Over the years we've seen the availability of connectivity evolve as the mind-set of customers and consumption trends change.
When I first started in IT the best you could get would be a 56.6kbps modem. If you’ve got a home broadband connection giving you 16mbps downstream then you’re getting nearly 300 times the speed compared to my old analogue modem.
The technology continues to develop and when we look at most businesses they use a mixture of connectivity options, which I will explain in more detail below.
To set the context: 1mbps = 1024kbps | kbps=- kilo-per-second data rates | mbps = megabit-per-second data rates
Primary Internet Connectivity Options
With classic ADSL you’re limited to 2mbps downstream and typically 256kbps (1/4mbps) upstream speeds. You’ll only really be using classic ADSL if you’ve got a very poor telephone line or you’ve forgotten to upgrade.
This variation of ADSL appeared after classic ADSL. Download speeds vary with a maximum downstream speed of 8mbps and maximum upstream typically of 832kbpps (and this is only if you’re close to the exchange).
Not satisfied with the 8mbps delivered via ADSL Max, BT developed their network and now provide speeds of up to 24mbps downstream and a theoretical maximum of 1.2mbps but I’ve personally not seen one perform this well. As with all the other ADSL technologies this one is also exchange proximity dependant so if you live or work next door to the exchange you’ll see the best performance.
VDSL / FTTC
This is a relatively new technology we’re seeing more of. FTTC stands for Fibre To The Cabinet or sometimes people to refer to it as Fibre To The Curb. It can provide speeds of around 80mbps downstream and around 20mbps upstream. It’s a relatively low cost connection and if it’s available in your area would be suitable for most domestic internet requirements.
EFM (Ethernet First Mile), like ADSL, is delivered via a copper cable. This helps to keep the installation costs down but unlike the ADSL technologies EFM typically provides the same speeds downstream as it does upstream so if you’re sharing files or have remote workers this can be a great technology without the costs of a traditional fibre optic leased line. Speeds available for EFM vary dramatically with some companies proposing speeds of up 1gpbs (1000mbps) both upstream and downstream. In reality if you’re going to use those type of speeds then you’d should consider investing in a fibre leased line.
Fibre Leased Line
Fibre Leased Line is typically the most expensive of the connectivity options as not many business premises or homes have ‘to the door’ availability. This means BT or another provider will charge installation fees for the connection and it could even involve digging up roads (one of our customers had to pay to have a 4 mile driveway dug up!) However, whilst fibre is comparably expensive it’s normally a worthwhile investment as it doesn’t degrade like copper circuits can and vulnerabilities are limited to human error.
These are considered primary internet connectivity options, and can be mixed to provide a level of business resilience. However, they will typically physically enter and exit a building via the same point so maximum resilience would mean combining alternative connectivity technologies that do not rely on cables run through the ground.
Wireless Internet Connectivity Options
3G / 4G
With the ever-improving speeds we’re seeing from the mobile carriers it is now common place to have a 3G or 4G router connected to a network as a backup device. In the event of your primary circuit failing you can configure your firewall to route traffic across this backup circuit whilst your communications or IT provider resolves the issues.
WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a wireless communications standard designed to provide 30 to 40mbps and enables the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and ADSL.
Unfortunately WiMAX isn’t available in all towns and cities across the UK. Where it is available it’s a great solution to a backup circuit and sometimes as a primary circuit depending on your other options. Like 3G and 4G connections it can be configured to switch over automatically when a primary circuit fails.
The early implementations of satellite broadband provided very poor user experiences. This has changed over time and now the performance achieved is comparable to other cabled technologies. However satellite will always suffer from latency issues due to the distance the data has to travel from the satellite to the earth. Of the backup connections it could be considered the best one as it is independent of mobile coverage or Wi-Max availability and typically has a very large coverage.
Evaluating what connectivity option is right for your business is often subject to multiple factors, such as the distance between the local exchange and your business premises. If you would like Mirus to provide more detail on technologies available in your area, and what would be the best return on your investment for your needs, then please do get in touch via 0845 519 5055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org where we’ll be happy to assist.