Broadband is a blanket term for a range of technologies that allow access to the internet at much higher speeds than normal dial-up connections. While current 'narrowband' systems can typically carry information at a rate of 56kbps (kilobits per second), broadband often allows rates of 512kbps and can offer speeds many times faster.
The main types of broadband technology include ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) - a technology that allows normal telephone lines to carry more data - and cable modems, which allow you to connect to a higher-speed cable network in your area. Other alternatives include SDSL (Synchronous Digital Subscriber Line) satellite technology and high-speed wireless networks.
One of the most important thngs to remember about an ADSL broadband service, is that there is a contention of the overall available bandwidth amongst other local telephone exchange ADSL subscribers. This means that if an ADSL service is locally popular,
you must be prepared to accept connection speeds that are possibly less than those advertised by the service provider. Typically, for a 2Mbps "downstream" (ie. data coming from the Internet) service, there will be a choice of whether to subscribe to a
20:1 or 50:1 contention ratio, which naturally has service cost implications. Upstream (ie. data going out from your network) transfer rates could also be affected (usually there is a maximum upstream bandwidth of between 256Kbps and 448kbps), depending upon how many subscribers are using the service, and at what time of day it is.
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Before deciding upon whether or not to use broadband you will need to assess what your business needs are, both present and future. Do you want to encourage working from home (teleworking)? Do you want to improve customer services (CRM systems)? Do you want to embrace the e-commerce revolution? Do you just want to be able to send/receive email and browse the Internet?
For some companies, there is a requirement to keep webservers and other publicly accessible services inhouse (ie. connected to the organisation's local network). In such a case, despite the extra costs involved, a leased line connection to the Internet would probably be the most suitable medium. This is due to the uncertainty of how much upstream bandwidth will be available for Internet users to access these services - the last thing a company wants is to have a website that is slow to access, or even unavailable to their customers! However, there is also the option of farming out the webservers to a third party hosting company so bi-directional bandwidth requirements do not become so much of an issue.There is also the question of how many of your end users need access to the Internet, and the type of data/information they are downloading. It could well be that such activities are reviewed and decisions made as to whether or not to impose restrictions via firewall/security policies
Although ADSL and cable-modem broadband coverage is improving all of the time, there are still areas of the UK where local telephone exchanges or the local cable provider does not have enough impetus (or potential demand) to make upgrading their infrastructure viable. However, over 85% of the country is already broadband-ready.
The following link to Zen Internet can be used to see if your location falls inside an area where ADSL is available:
If you are unfortunate to be one of the locations yet to be upgraded to broadband-ready status, it may be worthwhile contacting Wanwise directly so that we can investigate if there are plans to upgrade the local exchange in the foreseeable future.
Regardless of whether you choose ADSL or a cable provider for your broadband connection, as a minimum it is recommended that you use a suitable modem or router and a separate dedicated hardware firewall to protect your company's network from possible hacker and other malicious attacks from the Internet. You will also need to decide which of your network devices need access to the Internet and if they need to be publicly visible (eg. a company webserver or SMTP mailserver). If you are thinking about remote branch offices or home workers gaining access to the company Intranet or file/print/mail servers, then you will also need to consider how these are going to connect (eg. will each have its own firewall, or for single users, will a remote VPN software application be sufficient instead?)
The next decision will be whether to purchase and configure the necessary equipment yourself (and thus maintain an element of control over maintenance and asset management), or pay extra for a "managed" service, where the equipment is owned, controlled and maintained by the broadband provider.
The diagram below shows how a typical corporate ADSL Internet connection might be set up:
Another aspect of an Internet service often overlooked, is one of hardware and adhoc maintenance and support. You will need to decide how important your Internet connectivity is to the running of the business and arrange support/maintenance contracts based on those requirements.
Wanwise Limited is able to take away much of the headache of either setting up a brand new Internet connection, or migrating to a new Internet provider (eg. upgrading from a dialup service to broadband).
By using the benefit of solid previous experience in the ISP environment, technical consultancy can be arranged for all aspects of such a project. We can design customer-specific network topology diagrams, help choose what broadband service and security options suit your needs, configure all of the associated networking and firewall equipment, and give adhoc post-installation technical support.
For those clients more ambitious in their requirements, Wanwise can tailor our solutions accordingly.
For example, roadmapping how to inter-connect multiple offices securely via firewalled virtual private networks (VPNs).
Why not contact us and discuss your interest in this technology in more detail?