In the business world, losing connectivity means losing custom. Find out how EoFTTC can help.
You’re probably already familiar with Ethernet. It’s the most widely used local area networking technology, first introduced in the 1980s and developed over the years to support faster speeds and longer distance links. Ethernet over FTTC offers the benefits of dedicated fibre connectivity with high speeds and business-class SLAs, but with lower setup costs compared to EFM and Fibre Ethernet.
It works by using Fibre technology (or copper if Fibre not available) to connect you to the nearest street cabinet. A dedicated Ethernet line then carries the data back to the internet. EoFTTC (Ethernet over Fibre To The Cabinet) provides speeds of up to 20mbps is available so on the surface the performance looks comparable to broadband, however, there are some significant differences.
Service level agreements
Compared to standard fibre broadband the major difference with EoFTTC is the SLAs (service level agreements) the service provides. Because Ethernet over FTTC services are designed for business users, they have the edge in terms of the levels of service you can expect from the service provider. The service level agreement will take account of the fact that the service is important to your business and that you need to get up and running again quickly in the event of a problem.
The SLA for EoFTTC services will ensure that you have higher levels of guaranteed uptime, usually around 99.9 percent. You can, therefore, have confidence that the service will always be available at the times when you most need it. This is a key factor if you need a reliable 24-hours a day connection. You may, for example, be hosting your own web or email servers. You’ll also benefit from a better target fix time than with broadband – usually around eight hours – so that, if a problem does occur, you can be sure it will be fixed quickly.
The benefits of a synchronous circuit
In addition to SLA’s another major difference of EoFTTC compared to broadband is that EoFTTC provides a synchronous circuit. So, while broadband offers you a 20mbps or more download speed, it’s asynchronous, so uploads are much much slower, perhaps 1/20th as fast. This is because it has to share the telephone line with voice traffic and thus needs to leave some bandwidth free. By contrast, EoFTTC is synchronous, so you get 20mbps in both directions.
While you probably won’t notice the difference in speeds at home where most of your traffic is incoming in the form of web pages and streamed media, it is a drawback for business use. Should you be relying upon a cloud service, need to send large files to another location, upload high-quality files for printing, or backup your business data to remote storage, then slow upload speeds can be a serious pain.
There’s another drawback to broadband in the form of what is called contention. What this means is that once the line leaves your building it is no longer restricted just to your use. Once outside it gets shared with other people, perhaps 20 or more in a typical UK scenario.
While you might not notice this most of the time, you’ll find that when all your neighbours are online in the evenings all trying to watch catch-up TV, your connection will slow down because of the extra traffic. Don’t think that you can get around this by switching ISP’s either as once outside – unless you’re with a cable provider – all the circuitry is managed by Openreach and shared between providers.
Again Ethernet over FTTC has the edge here because it has a 1:1 contention ratio. In other words, it’s not shared at all; the circuit is yours and yours alone all the way to the data centre. This means that you’ll have no issues with connections slowing down at peak times.
EoFTTC vs broadband
Most broadband providers allocate IP addresses (the underlying destination codes that make the internet work) dynamically in order to eke out the limited number available. This means that each time you go online you could be given a different address. Once again, in domestic use this is something you’ll never notice and don’t need to worry about.
In a business situation, however, where you want to run your own web or mail servers for example, it’s useful to have an IP address that doesn’t change. EoFTTC offers a static IP address as part of the package, so you have more flexibility as to how you use the circuit.
The amount of data you transfer each month is likely to be greater for businesses. This is especially true if you’re making heavy use of the cloud or of VoIP communication services. With broadband, this can be a problem as there’s often a cap on monthly data usage and if you stray over the limit you’ll be landed with an extra charge.
Even if the ISP says the service is unlimited there will often be a fair use restriction that can trip you up if the ISP thinks you’re downloading too much. You can also find that you might get unlimited downloads at night but are subject to limits during the day when you really need the capacity for your operation. Again EoFTTC scores here; because the line is for your use only you’re free to transfer just as much data as you want.
There are two sides to every coin and you do need to consider the possible downsides of EoFTTC. The main drawback is price; Ethernet over FTTC services are generally more expensive than broadband services, but EoFTTC is none the less a lot cheaper than a full-fibre leased line. Smaller businesses and start-ups will need to take account of the cost when considering what type of service to use.
EoFTTC pricing starts from around £130 per month, depending on location. The actual costs of a particular installation will depend on where you are and therefore on the length of the circuit required, as well as the type of circuit you need. If you’re prepared to sign up to a long-term contract you may be able to negotiate a better price, or at least get the installation charge waived. Make sure you won’t be caught out by signing a long contract, however; consider that you may need to move premises, for example.
Cost is often the first blocker to those businesses looking to upgrade their existing connectivity setup. In response to this, the government is currently offering eligible UK businesses the opportunity to claim up to £2,500 to offset the cost of an Ethernet connection through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which means now is the perfect time to look into investing in an Ethernet solution
Business and service benefits
If you’re only a small business with a couple of staff, broadband could well be adequate for your needs. However, once you have more than just a handful of employees using your systems, or you have more than one business location to service, then the advantages of Ethernet over FTTC that we’ve discussed above begin to make themselves felt.
Having a synchronous connection makes it easier and quicker to transfer large files and will mean that as-a-service cloud applications will run more smoothly. It also makes for more efficient use of VoIP telephony or video conferencing, both of which work better on a fast, uncontended, synchronous connection.
There are benefits too in having consistent connection speeds at all times of the day. Since there’s no contention on an EoFTTC line, you needn’t worry about slowdowns if you’re working outside office hours.
Because the EoFTTC circuit is a leased line that’s reserved solely for your use, there are other operational benefits too. With cyber-attacks constantly in the headlines, security is a worry for all businesses. With an EoFTTC line, there’s less chance of your data being intercepted in transit. You can set your own traffic priorities too so that your most important applications such as your cloud applications or VoIP calling are given priority over backups and other less time-critical traffic.
The internet plays an increasingly large role both in our personal lives and our businesses. If you’re running cloud-based software or relying upon cloud storage, a fast, dependable connection is essential. If you can’t access your systems when you need them then you’ll be losing customers and losing money. Can you afford to ignore the benefits of EoFTTC?