The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing major changes to Internet services. One of these changes is the definition of “Broadband”. For the last several years, that benchmark has been 4 megabits a second (4mb/s) download and 1mb/s upload. The chairman has proposed the to be changed to 25mb/s download and 3mb/s upload.
Although a definition does not change anything in regards to most companies perception of Internet service, it does bring in perspective the reliance that businesses and individuals have on connectivity to get work done. Beyond raw Internet speed, there are several considerations that companies today need to worry about when choosing Internet services for their company.
Many companies today have moved computing services out of their offices into hosted environments that we commonly refer to as the “cloud”. For example, if your company uses an online service, such as Office 365, for email, you are using a “cloud” email service. For obvious reasons, no matter if your email is on your Microsoft Exchange server in your office, or in a Microsoft data center in the cloud, you would have to have Internet access to connect to it. On the other hand, if your company had a piece of software, such as an accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that is used to run many operations inside the business, Internet access may not be essential to that application if it runs on servers inside the company’s building. If that software is moved to the cloud, now the Internet connection becomes essential. Disconnection from the Internet is as disastrous to that company as a server crash once was. Having redundancy in Internet connections is now important to that company, which incurs extra monthly expenses that may not have been budgeted. That redundancy can be worth much more that the monthly cost if one of the providers goes down for an extended period of time. It may be worth more to your company to invest in redundant Internet connections than having a higher speed single connection.
Over the last several years, we have seen a dramatic increase in hacking of corporate networks, with severe damages to large and small corporations. With higher speed connections, the ability of hackers to inflict damages increases exponentially. Additionally, as companies put more and more data on the Internet, security must be increased respectively to keep up with accessibility. Intrusion prevention systems, gateway anti-virus and anti-malware systems, and proper desktop and network security are essential to a good online experience.
Just because you bought a brand new Ferrari, doesn’t mean that you can go 200 mph in a Los Angeles traffic jam. The same goes with Internet service. When upgrading Internet access, there may be hardware limitations to your company being able to use that speed. Many companies are still using 100mb/s switches inside on the local area network (LAN) and using firewalls that are only capable of routing a fraction of that speed. Before signing up for the gazillion megabit Internet service, make sure your internal network can support it.
The need for speed
Just because the high speed service is available to your company, you need to analyze if your company would benefit from the higher monthly expense. Many companies still just use Internet connections for basic web browsing and email. Other companies share huge data files with clients, connect to offsite data services, or stream high definition videos to multiple computers. An analysis of your total Internet usage and the business purpose of that usage is important before signing any contracts.
In the end, it is a good thing that more companies are using the Internet to do business. Thinking of the productivity increases over the last decade due to broadband Internet, it is easy to see that innovation has followed increase connectivity. Another decade from now, we will probably thing of 25mb/s as we perceive high-speed 56k modems from a decade ago – ancient digital history.