Almost all businesses rely on internet access to some degree to make sales and interact with customers. Whether that be direct sales online, taking bookings or onsite sales using your PoS systems, or a wide range of other customer touchpoints. If your internet goes down, it means that you’re losing sales and brand interaction, potentially giving your competitors the upper hand.
You could even be hurting your brand. If you cannot help customers because your internet is down, they may not come back. Worse, customers may tell others about a bad experience thanks to your internet connection being down, hurting your reputation damage and costing you even more sales further down the road.
The need for speed
Ultimately, it’s a question of reliability. Exactly how much internet downtime is costing you will depend on how reliable or unreliable your internet connection is. Reliability also directly affects connection speeds; the more reliable your connection, the faster your speeds will be. This is because of how the underlying technology that delivers ultrafast speed internet (that’s the full-fat version) to your business works. Reliable connectivity is the lifeblood of virtually every business for so many reasons. It’s never been more critical to ensure that you are using modern technology and not repurposing infrastructure from the 1800s, namely copper! To keep your customers happy and your staff productive, you will want to ensure you have an optimised internet connection that performs when you need it the most
As with a lot of technology, terminology with a healthy mix of marketing speak can be a little confusing for some. Connection speeds are often quoted in two parts. For example, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may quote your connection speed as 80Mbps/20Mbps. But what does that mean?
The first part is the download speed. In the example above, the download speed is 80mbps, which is a fairly decent speed. This would be the more important figure for household users or small offices of 5 people or less where internet usage is typically browsing, emails, video calls, etc.
The second part is your upload speed. For most businesses, this is just as important as your download speed. Slow or inadequate speeds can result in a bottleneck, making the entire internet service seem unusable. If you have electronic Point of Sale (EPoS), credit card terminals, property management systems (PMS), other case management systems, customer management systems (CRM), a slow upload speed will be an issue for you. A high volume of video conferences data also requires high upload speeds to avoid buffering and jittering.
For hospitality businesses, download speeds are also important in guest rooms, public spaces, meeting/conferences rooms, restaurants, etc. Guests streaming, video calling, voice calling etc., require good upload speeds as well as download speeds.
In working environments where staff work from home and need to access a server via a VPN or if your CCTV is viewed remotely, this counts as uploading data.
Something else you need to consider is that commercial broadband speeds (just like residential) are often quoted with an “up to” prefix. This is the maximum available speed for any given location. The actual average speed may well be much lower than this. An important take away here is that unlike full fibre based services, part copper-based internet services or connections are distance specific. Quite simply, the further the business premises is from the phone exchange or street cabinet, the more the speed and performance degrades. Clearly, this affects many businesses that are not fortunate enough to be very close to the exchange or cabinet.
“Semi-skimmed” versus “full-fat” fibre
As a business, you should be using a full-fibre connection. According to Ofcom, 85% of UK premises had superfast broadband as of September 2020 , so you are most likely already using fibre. However, not all fibre connections are equal.
There are two types of fibre service:
Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) – SoHo (Small office/home) or, as we like to call it, “semi-skimmed fibre.”
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) – suitable for most businesses or “full-fat fibre”.
Broadband services are delivered via fibre-optic cable, which can carry far more data than copper wiring. In FTTC (the semi-skimmed version), the fibreoptic network ends at a street cabinet near the user’s premises, with the final part of the connection to the property being through existing old copper wires. Not only is this last part of the connection much slower, you will also share this cabinet with other surrounding properties, and speeds will fluctuate throughout the day depending on the usage of the other users. Sometimes, this is termed as ‘contention ratio’, with the significant downside being that speeds during busy times, e.g. evenings drop further when in usage is critical.
FTTP (full-fat fibre!), on the other hand, means that the fibre network extends right into the property, allowing for much greater upload and download speeds – up to 1gbps and in a growing number of locations in the UK, even up to a blazing 10gbps!. Most importantly for businesses, upload speeds are as fast as the download speeds (“synchronous speeds” in tech-speak). You also don’t have to share the connection with anyone else as the full fibre to the premises (FTTP) service is a dedicated line. This means no one else will be using up the bandwidth and slowing you down. There are also fewer physical connections to go wrong, making this type of Internet service or system much more reliable and robust.
Do I really need a “full-fat” FTTP connection?
So, you may now be wondering whether your business is large enough to make it worth upgrading your connection. Perhaps a better question would be whether you can afford not to? Remember that example of £5,850 per year of lost staff productivity we discussed earlier? Most business owners would probably consider lost revenue and profitably on top of this as an even more significant concern.
Once upon a time, FTTP used to be prohibitively expensive for all but the largest businesses, but now there is a growing number of ISPs who can deliver super, ultra and even hyperfast internet connectivity in shorter lead times for considerably less. These are referred to as “Alternative Networks Providers” or “Alt Nets” for short. At one time, in order to get FTTP, you had to pay for a ‘leased line’ from BT/Openreach. However, deregulation from the government came along and took away their monopoly. Clearly an excellent move for the sector that delivers cost savings, a productivity boost and uplifting profitability for 1000’s of businesses in the UK.
A feature of full-fat or full-fibre services often overlooked is the Service Level Agreement (SLA). A commercial-grade SLA mandates service uptime, minimum speeds and downtime is limited to 6 hours in the event of an outage. If they fail to meet these conditions, there is a service credit clause that means you will be compensated. The real-world reality is that the underlying fibre technology is very robust and not subject to distances, interference, other customer usage or even the weather which is a common complaint of FTTC/part copper services
Ultrafast fibre – The fuel behind your wireless network
If you want to ensure your customers and staff have the tools they need to be connected, productive and happy, consider the whole technology picture.
Whether your business is a hotel, office block, a care home, or retail premises, you need a great WiFi connection that is reliable and reaches every corner.
With most on-premise technology connected to or driven by cloud-based systems, robust and consistent full-fibre must be considered the fuel that completes the journey.
A commercial-grade WiFi network with cloud management can deliver ultrafast fibre speeds to your guests, visitors and staff via their devices in the same reliable way it arrives at your front door via the ISP.
Operational tasks such as system software updates, payment transactions, support, streaming content, and so much more can be more time-efficient and cost-effective without the need for engineer visitors. This helps businesses to be agile and more responsive to their customers’s needs.
Other considerations include cloud-based Guest WiFi services as part of your customer experience programmes. Commencing from data capture in a seamless and automated manner, customer engagement can be made simply during and post-visit. Nurturing loyalty in this way has enormous positive outcomes, including as part of your reputation management.
Freedom Hotspot helps clients in all sectors using its ‘OneNetwork’ strategy to ensure that clients benefit from a simplified approach to making the most of investments in WiFi networks, Guest WiFi and Ultrafast fibre internet connectivity.
If you need help getting a “full-fat” FTTP connection from a host of ISPs beyond BT/Openreach that are right for your business including a business specific Service Level Agreement (SLA) or indeed with anything WiFi, speak to the Freedom Hotspot team. Call us on 0800 311 2190 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about internet connectivity from Freedom Hotspot here.