- 30 May 2016
- Posted by: Danielle Donaldson
- Category: Technology
Working in offices in London, people often endure ADSL Internet connections that are slower than they get at home. What can you do about this? There are alternative options available on the market for business internet connectivity but procurement and installation can be surprisingly complex.
Here is an introduction and some of the pros and cons of the different types of internet connections available:
Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL) are the basic broadband standard for London and use copper telephone cables to deliver up to 24Mbps (that’s Megabits per second – not to be confused with Megabytes). However, the further you are from the BT exchange the lower the speed you can expect. If you’re 4 km from the exchange you can expect only 4Mbps or less. As the line is asynchronous, the bandwidth is asymmetrical meaning the upload speed of ADSL is much lower than the download speed – often only 5-10%. This means a typical office sending information with web-based applications across multiple users will find ADSL extremely limiting. If personnel are working outside the office using VPN access then they will be the worst affected by this lack of bandwidth up from the office LAN to the Internet. Bandwidth on an ADSL line is not dedicated to one party, it’s shared across multiple parties and each party is, therefore, competing for the available bandwidth. If users in neighbouring offices are uploading or downloading video, your own Internet performance could be affected. This is known as contention and every service that is contended will have a contention ratio. For example, a service with a contention ratio of 20:1 is a line competing with twenty others for the same bandwidth
Pro’s: Cheap to install, from £25 per month to rent, approx. 2 weeks to install a new line
Cons: Low speed, asymmetrical, contended service
Fibre Broadband or BT Infinity
Also known as Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC), this technology is also delivered over standard copper lines. The key difference is that the copper only goes from your premises to the nearest street cabinet. From the cabinet to the local exchange there is a fibre optic cable. That means bandwidth is higher. Residential areas around London were some of the first to receive fibre optic services so home connections often deliver 100Mbps or more. These services are becoming available in some parts of central London but for other areas timescales are unclear.
Pro’s: Inexpensive to install and use, fast with relatively high upload bandwidth, quick to install
Cons: Contended, asymmetrical service, low availability in central London
Ethernet in the First Mile uses 2 or 4 copper pairs to give dedicated (ie uncontended) bandwidth of 10 or 20Mbps. Again, this depends on the distance to the exchange.
Pro’s: Uncontended, symmetrical service, around 6 weeks to install, cost is lower than fibre – from £200 per month
Cons: Ageing technology, limited expansion possibilities, less bandwidth than Fibre
Fibre leased line
A Fibre leased line gives a dedicated level of bandwidth. The most commonly installed lines are 100Mbps bearers but increasingly 1Gbps lines are being installed. Contracts from 10Mbps right up to the full bearer speed can be taken out. 12, 24 or 36-month agreements are available.
Pro’s: Uncontended service, high speed, reliable
Cons: Can take 6 months or more to install. Cost is often £500 per month. Installation requires wayleave agreement with landlord which can cause legal costs. Cannot be delivered to all premises due to physical and legal complications
Wireless Internet Connections
There are 3 technologies that can deliver Internet connectivity without a cable:
Geo Satellites orbiting above the equator communicate between a satellite dish on the customer’s roof and the ISP’s Gateway.
Pros: Can be used wherever a satellite can be mounted
Cons: High latency – ie feels slow. Signal can be affected by heavy rain and thunderstorms
Base stations at elevated locations in a city communicate between an antenna on the customer’s roof and the ISP.
Pros: Fast to install, symmetrical – ie upload speed = download speed, can opt for speed from 2Mbps – 10Mbps, Speed can be increased on demand so good for backup connection
Cons: 4G is predicted to become the industry standard wireless internet.
4G networks offered by Vodafone, EE and Broadband UK. Business class services may use a microwave Ethernet link and 10” dish
Pros: Set-up is quick and inexpensive, packages from £25 per month, mobile broadband also available for small data volumes – from £10 per month useful as a failover service, Uncontended business services have SLAs
Cons: Available bandwidth much lower than fixed line – generally around 10mbps, not yet available throughout London.
If you upgrade from ADSL or EFM to a fibre leased line then you may need to replace your firewall with a superior device which is capable of handling the higher performance and can accept 2 inputs – the fibre line and an ADSL or 4G back up. The firewall should be configured to fail-over automatically if the primary service fails.
There are many factors to be considered before you decide which connection type suits your organisation.
Talk to Cubit about these and we’ll help you make the right decision