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Costs of connectivity

It goes without saying that a fast, reliable internet connection is crucial for pretty much all modern businesses. In fact, if a recent and rather annoying broadband advert is to be believed, the only viable non-networked business would be a (presumably self-employed) full time off-grid spoon whittler. By virtue of the fact that you’re reading this, I’ll make the bold assumption that this doesn’t apply to you or your business, and that it would be useful to understand a little more about your various data connectivity options.

ADSL – ‘The green, green grass of home’

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, to give ADSL its fancy name, is probably the most familiar form of internet connection as it’s what powers most home broadband connections. It was developed to enable much faster data transmission over old-skool copper telephone lines than the original ‘dial-up’ modems, whose screechy song was the background music to the late 1990s, and which annoyed everyone else in the house by tying up the phone line. It works by using high frequencies to transmit data, while leaving the lower audible frequencies alone. The ‘asymmetric’ bit of the name refers to them offering faster downloads than uploads, consistent with common internet usage.

For domestic usage, the advantages are price and ubiquity – it only needs a regular phone line connection, an off-the-shelf modem/router, and a fairly modest monthly cost. But it’s not really suitable for modern businesses – it’s simply too slow, with a maximum data rate of around 10-20Mb/s. With the increasing reliance on online services such as Google Apps and Office 365, even 3 simultaneous users could grind this type of connection to a halt.

VDSL – ‘Scream if you want to go faster’

Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line is an evolution of ADSL, which uses ultra-fast FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) data transmission, only using slower copper phone lines for the final few hundred metres. It’s commonly marketed as ‘fibre broadband’. This can boost download speeds to over 50Mb/s, and can even approach 100Mb/s depending upon distance from the street cabinet. The cost is only slightly higher than ADSL.

As another annoying advert suggests, surely this is a ‘no brainer’ upgrade over ADSL? Indeed it is, providing you can get it – it’s not as ubiquitous as regular ADSL, though there is a continual drive by service providers to extend its reach, with a current focus on London.

EFM – ‘I am the one and only’

ADSL and VDSL are both asymmetric internet connections, which effectively share ‘fatter’ internet connections with other users. This can mean that at busy times you’ll be competing for bandwidth, so your connection speed and stability won’t always be consistent. EFM (Ethernet in the First Mile) is a ‘leased line’ which offers your business a dedicated internet connection i.e. bandwidth not shared with anyone else, with the added benefit of equal download and upload speeds.

This dedicated connection offers additional reliability and stability, but is considerably more expensive than ADSL or VDSL, and has a pretty low maximum data rate of 35Mb/s. Consequently, EFM is slowly being phased out, to be replaced by the ‘gold standard’ method below.

Fibre – ‘There’s no limit!’

Like EFM, this is a leased line which offers your business an extremely reliable symmetric connection, without sharing bandwidth with other homes or businesses. The difference is that, whilst EFM uses regular copper cabling to connect you to the provider, fibre connections use optical fibres which are capable of massively faster speeds – up to 10Gb/s. For internet-reliant businesses, fibre is the obvious choice.

Whilst the headline monthly cost may appear higher than EFM, the much higher speeds mean that the effective cost per user is actually considerably lower. Plus, as it becomes more ubiquitous, fibre is getter cheaper and cheaper all the time.

The main consideration here is that installation can take a long time, so give us a call on 02071003650 and get your order in nice and early!

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