It’s 2018 and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to connectivity solutions. This is great, but the vast array of technology these days can leave you in a bit of a quandary when it comes to choosing your services, often leading to no decision being made at all.
With big differences in pricing, this can be a deciding factor in the services you opt for. In many cases this can lead you to taking out contracts in services that fall short of the mark, which is why we feel it’s important that you understand the options available before you sign on the dotted line and have no way out.
Generally speaking, more expensive means better quality but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best option for your business. So to make sure that you know exactly which connection you need, we’re here to outline some of the main features of each type.
Over and above the most widely available ADSL broadband and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet), there are faster and more resilient offerings available and Direct Internet Access (DIA) is a term often thrown about to describe them. In broad terms DIA is an internet connection that offers significantly faster speeds. Although this is true, the term is an umbrella and encompasses specific connection types that vary.
So, what are the options?
EoFTTC (Ethernet over Fibre to the Cabinet) and GEA (Generic Ethernet Access) use existing fibre or copper wires to connect to the street cabinet and then fibre connects to the local exchange, before (unlike FTTC) handing data over to the ethernet network. Think of it as an entry level form of ethernet connectivity. This solution has the shortest install lead times (circa 18 working days) compared to some of the other options. It is a cost-effective choice for businesses looking for reliability, as it comes with SLA’s to protect you in the event of any issues.
Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) is an affordable alternative to a leased line. It provides speeds determined by the number of bonded copper cables in the line. A box is installed on-site that ‘bonds’ the individual wires into a single service. 2 cables gives twice the former speeds, 4 cables provides quadruple and so on, regardless of whether it’s uploading or downloading. The speeds are lower than of a leased line, but it has much shorter installation lead times and offers the same reliable SLA’s. For smaller businesses using cloud technology, this is a great option.
G.fast is BT Openreach’s 330Mbps capable hybrid fibre technology. It was initially piloted in 20 locations around the UK and then rolled out to another 26. It works in a similar way to FTTC but is fitted with an extension ‘pod’ that houses the G.fast technology to increase speeds for the final leg of the connection – short loops of the copper wires to the premises. You need to be situated in one of the trial locations to benefit from this, but BT Openreach are planning to roll out further over the coming years.
FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) employs fibre optic cabling from the exchange right up to, yes you guessed it, the premises. The upload and download speeds of FTTP are significantly faster with some areas able to receive up to 1Gbps (or 1000Mbps if you wanted to compare) – the fastest speeds available anywhere in the UK.
A Leased Line offers uncontended bandwidth (i.e. they are occupied only by the customer, rather than sharing with others) and therefore consistent speed: even during peak times. You will also benefit from symmetrical upload and download speeds, fault thresholds and SLA’s for resolving any issues. Additionally, you can have built in resilience by opting for 2 leased lines on separate networks. One operates as a back-up for the other, to offer the most robust protection against downtime. Whilst this is the most expensive option, for commercial operations relying heavily on connectivity it is the most reliable solution.
If you’re struggling to find motivation to upgrade your internet connection, it is worth bearing in mind that by 2025 internet-based voice solutions will be the only available option as ISDN will have been phased out by BT Openreach. This along with the rapid movement to cloud-based services demands the need for better, more reliable, internet connectivity in all businesses, whatever their size or requirements.