Find out what ultrafast broadband is and how it could help transform your business.
Internet connectivity is an essential tool for businesses. We rely on it for communications such as email, instant messaging and voice over IP (VoIP) telephony services, amongst others. Any loss in connectivity is expensive for a business but can be especially costly for small businesses.
Small and medium-sized businesses are taking advantage of the full range of online hosted services that have been developed in recent years. These include customer relationship management (CRM) tools, hosted VoIP services, hosted productivity suites and cloud storage solutions. These solutions reduce the number of front hardware expenses and minimise the stresses on IT departments.
All of these solutions have one thing in common; they require bandwidth, specifically upload broadband. And that is an issue with the current broadband offering within the UK, in that it does not deliver the bandwidth required by businesses and alternative Ethernet options are often too expensive a consideration for many smaller businesses.
Thankfully, this year sees the rolling out of ultrafast broadband, promising to deliver Ethernet-speed bandwidth at broadband prices.
Ultrafast broadband might be the next step for your business. It offers the opportunity to increase productivity and efficiency of your online services and therefore your staff alongside providing easy access to the latest cloud technology. It also reduces the risk of downtime, thereby saving you time and money.
What is ultrafast broadband?
The fastest broadband available currently is superfast broadband, delivering better speeds than standard and high-speed broadband, and now available to more than 27 million UK homes and businesses.
In 2017, Ofcom reported that the average UK download speed was around 36 Mbps with a mere 4 Mbps upload, calling the usability of hosted services into question without relying on enterprise quality broadband. Ultrafast promises far more – up to 330 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.
How is it delivered?
The two technologies acting as the driving force behind the ultrafast broadband revolution are G.Fast and fibre to the premises (FTTP) G.Fast relies on similar copper connections to superfast broadband, with new cabinet technology pushing the speeds to new heights.
Current superfast broadband is delivered via fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). This means that the street cabinet has a fibre trunk connecting it to the provider’s core network. The remainder of the connections to premises is made by copper connections.
FTTP uses fibre technology, similar to that of fibre Ethernet leased lines, so there is no loss of speed over long distances as is often found with FTTC and G.Fast, which can be limited due to the copper leg of the line. With FTTP, the ultrafast speeds will be limited by the package you receive from a provider, with the infrastructure being more than capable of 1 Gb per second.
FTTP is superior technology, offering the gold standard for broadband connectivity, but G.Fast will also provide impressive speeds at reasonable rates, with availability initially being defined by where your business is located.
Who can get it?
The ultrafast broadband rollouts are only just beginning, with G.Fast covering just 250,000 premises as of January 2018. By 2020, however, over 10 million premises will be covered by G.Fast, and at least 2 million will have access to ultrafast broadband via FTTP routes.
Is ultrafast broadband right for your business?
If your business currently relies on asymmetric digital subscriber lines, such as ADSL or FTTC broadband, then the speeds of ultrafast broadband are capable of massively enhancing your business by more than quadrupling download capacity. Current broadband customers will experience faster and more productive processes after upgrading and that is without having to invest in hard-wired Ethernet access.
Speed-wise, it will come down to your usage. 300 Mbps download is certainly enough for the majority of small and medium-sized businesses, but the asymmetric nature of the connection is its sticking point. 50 Mbps upload may start to struggle with heavy use of cloud-hosted services. For medium to large-sized businesses with heavy use, fibre Ethernet is still the best choice for incredible speeds with symmetric bandwidth.
Its reliability, however, is dependent on how it is delivered to you. FTTP and G.Fast both offer high levels of reliability, but FTTP is more dependable due to its pure fibre delivery, excluding the use of copper lines.
Another important consideration is the service level agreement (SLA) your provider offers. For organisations where connectivity is business-critical, even a small amount of downtime can incur huge expense. For these businesses, using specialist providers which offer the right SLA, or a more traditional business leased line with a high uptime guarantee and low fix time targets will be a better option.
Is it worth it?
Where ultrafast broadband will shine is in the price/performance comparison. For smaller and startup businesses where cost is a major factor, ultrafast broadband represents a huge step up in price/performance, yet should be a serious consideration as an alternative to existing broadband offerings and a serious competitor to generic Ethernet connections.