What’s the correct broadband product for my requirements?
There are many different broadband products currently available to businesses and organisations.
Making the correct choice can be a confusing and potentially disastrous decision if you get it wrong.
So what are the choices and how do you make the right decision?
ADSL & ADSL2+
ADSL is the broadband product most organisations have experienced and until recently was the most common form of broadband. ADSL is provided on an analogue (copper) line and is able to provide speeds up to 8Mbps (Mbps = megabytes per second).
ADSL2+ is a development of ADSL and under ideal conditions is able to reach speeds of up to 24Mbps.
The crucial thing with utilising the bandwidth for an ADSL product is the UPLOAD statistic. Upload is the data bandwidth that is utilised when you upload something from the internet, for example a video. The lower the upload, the slower the speed you are able to stream data at. Typically ADSL2+ is only able to obtain an upload of approximately 1Mbps. The reason that a video would be slow is because the amount of data that you are able to upload is restricted.
This is a severe limitation particularly where the ADSL is being accessed by multiple users all wishing to access data from the internet.
ADSL can sometimes provide a better bandwidth solution to Fibre to Cabinet solutions under certain conditions – see more below.
Drawbacks of ADSL:
Low upload meaning it’s not generally suitable to share voice and data.
No ability to expand bandwidth – the product is the product
Provided on copper cable which can often lead to reliability issues with old infrastructure
Contention (multiple different users on the same bandwidth) may affect the available bandwidth
Cheap products generally result in poor quality support; choose a commercial product for business use and not a domestic grade product, commercial products will have lower contention and thus better quality. Consider what you require the broadband for, will the available bandwidth be sufficient?
Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) also known as VDSL
This Broadband product is also commonly referred to as ‘Infinity’ or ‘Superfast’ and also ‘VDSL’.
This was BT’s answer to the problem of rolling out faster broadband as quickly as possible across the UK.
This solution means that a fibre connection is provided to a local cabinet which replaces a conventional copper cabinet. It is then possible to connect across to the copper cabling providing the last part of the routing utilising legacy cabling. The closer you are to the cabinet the more likely you are to be able to get a high speed. The maximum available is 80/20Mbps. In reality this will only be available to those premises located very close to the cabinet. The bandwidth drops away as distance increases. Those premises furthest away may find that ADSL will provide a more stable/better product as FTTC tends to have synchronisation problems at the limits of its range. FTTC bandwidth tends to drop away more rapidly than ADSL. FTTC should be available for over 90% of premises in the UK.
For those premises that are able to get a reasonable FTTC connection the much higher upload opens up the possibility of utilising a single FTTC to operate with both voice and data. This is called a converged FTTC and it means that the voice is managed separately to the data thus ensuring that the voice quality is maintained throughout the network.
By 2025 BT intend to have closed down the conventional telephone network, this will mean that products such as ISDN will be end of life by this date. Converged FTTC opens up the ability for organisations to utilise a single data connection to run both voice (using SIP or Cloud telephones) as well as data. For SME organisations this is a great solution in that it can reduce monthly cost sometimes by a significant amount by replacing legacy connections.
Converged FTTC also enables High Definition Voice to be utilised this is because the higher bandwidth allows more data to be employed on voice traffic meaning much higher quality is available.
Drawbacks of FTTC
The last portion of connection to the premises being copper may result in reliability issues.
The further the distance involved the more likely there will be issues.
The product is the product – no possibility of additional bandwidth
Contention in the form of ‘traffic shaping’ can result in quality issues
Chose a commercial provider and check that the product will not be subject to traffic shaping.
Evaluate the bandwidth that is available – this will be a range which a supplier should be able to tell you before you order. The likely bandwidth is likely to be midway with the figures that are provided. The actual bandwidth will not be known until the connection is made. If you wish to carry voice and data on a single FTTC it’s important to choose a ‘converged FTTC’ from a supplier such as Gamma Telecom.
Select a good commercial router that is able to support VDSL, cheap ‘free’ routers will throttle back the available bandwidth.
Get these things right and a good FTTC connection will provide most organisations with a more than adequate solution.
Fibre to premises.
The ‘Rolls Royce’ of data connectivity. This provides a direct fibre optic connection into premises and can allow data speeds of up to 1Gb. Fibre to premises (also
known as a Leased Line) generally needs to be surveyed to ascertain the method with which fibre optic cable can be provided to the premises in question. A grant is available to the customer of £2,800 (ex VAT) towards any excess construction charges that may be charged. It’s relatively common for the installation of fibre to premises to be free of charge because any charges tend to come in below this figure. As part of the process of provisioning for a fibre connection a survey is undertaken in order to determine access.
Fibre to premises is provided on what is called a 100Mb bearer – this means that you are able to rent data speeds in 10Mb increments all the way up to 100Mb. Fibre to premises can also be provided on a 1Gb bearer meaning that you can start at 100Mb and increase from there.
Fibre to the premises is a ‘private’ connection, this means that you rent the whole bandwidth and there are no contention issues. It’s also a fully equalised data service meaning that you get the sane bandwidth both for upload and download. This a 100Mb connection gives you 100Mb up and 100Mb down.
Fibre to Premises is generally the solution for larger businesses that require a guaranteed, stable bandwidth. It’s also suitable for businesses that may be in relatively remote locations that cannot be served adequately by FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet).
Businesses that invest in FTTP would operate all of their data services including telephony on a single fibre connection. The removal of any legacy copper cabling (as with FTTC) increases the reliability of the connection significantly.
Fibre to the Premises is becoming increasingly common in terms of availability and with that the price is becoming more affordable. Future development of new estates will probably entail fibre being made available.
Consider using a provider that will also be providing your telecoms or IT services, this will allow any faults to be dealt with by that provider.
Cheap is not always the right way to go, ensure that you obtain more than 2 quotes and take references out for your chosen supplier by checking with existing users.
As with FTTC, if you’re using the connection for both voice and data it’s important to ensure that you use a ‘converged’ connection.
Ensure that you consider the installation of an adequate firewall to ensure cyber security.
ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) Standard broadband provided over copper
ADSL2+ Improved version of ADSL able to provide speeds up to 24Mbps
FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) High Speed broadband where only the last part of the connection is copper)
Converged Connection: A broadband connection that is able to be shared for voice & data
FTTP (fibre to the premises) Ultra High Speed broadband where the whole connection is fibre optic