Your Internet Connection Should Be Dedicated Symmetric Frustrated with low performing Internet service at your business? Perhaps you need a more appropriate connection.
Are you frustrated with the performance of the Internet for business use? Are you inclined to think that the entire thing is really more intended for entertainment and casual browsing that actually getting work done in a timely fashion? Yet, there’s really no alternative. Your customers and suppliers and all the information you need is online. Even your software packages and communications may be on the cloud now. Perhaps all you really need is a higher performance broadband connection that is more suited to the workplace.
What’s Wrong With My Internet Service?
Chances are that your Internet Service Provider is delivering the service you ordered exactly as advertised.There is nothing really wrong with it. It’s just that the particular connection you are using is not up to the job. That’s especially true if you are making demands beyond what the typical Internet user expects. Some of the key parameters you need to be aware of include bandwidth, symmetry, dedication, latency, jitter, and packet loss. Let’s take those one at a time and see why they make a difference.
Do fire fighters try to put out a blazing building with a garden hose? Of course not. A small pipe can’t deliver the huge volume of water needed. Same with bandwidth. A small or low bandwidth connection might keep up with emails, credit card verification, casual browsing and some video streaming. it can’t keep a dozen, a hundred or a thousand employees working efficiently. Once the “pipe” (yes, it’s actually called that) is at capacity you experience congestion. Too many packets per unit of time. Somebody has to wait their turn… and wait, and wait and wait.
You need bandwidth appropriate to the job. That means you’ll have to kiss DSL goodbye. T1 lines are reliable but way too slow these days. Same for budget cable broadband, 3G or even 4G wireless. Move up to fiber optic service if you can possibly get it without too much construction cost. Otherwise, Ethernet over Copper may work. Depending on the application, you might get by with 100 Mbps to 1000 Gbps DOCSIS cable.
Not all broadband is the same by a long shot. One big difference is symmetry of upload and download bandwidth. Symmetry means how much alike they are. Cable, satellite, DSL and similar connections that primarily serve the consumer market are not symmetrical. They are called asymmetrical. You may get 100 Mbps in the download direction but only 10 Mbps in the upload direction.
What difference does it make? Consumers don’t care. They mostly download. Businesses transfer large files between locations and upload them to remote web servers. Enterprise software packages transfer data in both directions. Offsite backups are primarily in the upload direction. If you can watch videos easily but can’t backup your files, you’ve got a symmetry problem.
We’re all dedicated to the job, right? That’s not what this is about. The two choices in bandwidth are dedicated and shared. Once again, those low cost broadband services are actually shared bandwidth. You and a dozen or a hundred other customers are all drinking from the same pipe. When everybody wants service at the same time, there isn’t enough to go around and things slow down. It’s really bad when they slow down during business hours and worse when you are working to a deadline.
Dedicated bandwidth services are yours and yours alone. Don’t get me wrong. The Internet backbones themselves are always shared. That’s not where the problem usually is. The real pinch point is that last mile between you and your service provider. You want that to be a dedicated connection if you expect consistency high performance.
Latency is a time delay. It’s a pause. Every circuit has latency. Even your local area network has some. The trick is to keep the latency so low you don’t notice it. What adds latency? Long distance connections with lots of equipment on the line. The worst is geostationary satellites. No matter what you do, there’s a half-second or more of time delay between action and response. Ten milliseconds of latency likely won’t hurt anybody. A hundred milliseconds will probably be noticeable. Half a second to a second? Maddening. Real time services such as VoIP telephone and video conferencing will be the most affected. If you need to use a satellite, be prepared to pause to let the other person speak or you’ll talk all over each other.
Jitter and Packet Loss
Jitter is a variation in arrival between packets. It’s another congestion problem. Jitter distorts conversations. Worse is packet loss. That means some packets get sent and never received. Data transfer protocols will simply request a resend. Voice and video will have holes in the stream that add more distortion. If packet loss is too bad due to a nearly unusable connection, even website performance and data backups will slow to a crawl.
Dedicated Symmetric Internet Connections
The gold standard in professional grade business Internet service is dedicated symmetric lines. Even better are dedicated symmetric lines that go directly from location to location, like branch offices or to a cloud service, and avoid the Internet altogether. If you are going to use the Internet, though, give yourself the best performance possible. Insist on a dedicated symmetric Internet access, preferably with a service level agreement. Plan on paying considerably more than you will for a budget connection, but consider it worth the price in productivity and better customer relations.
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