There are a wide range of fibre-based, wired or wireless technologies available that can provide your business with the speed you need.
Traditional broadband, known as ADSL2+ (asymmetric digital subscriber line) is delivered via copper telephone lines. According to Ofcom, download speeds for ADSL2+ in Essex average 9.7Mbps. ADSL2+ is the widest available broadband option in the country but speeds reduce the further you work from your local exchange.
Fibre broadband is the next generation of broadband. It can offer faster and more reliable service than ADSL as it uses a different technology – fibre optic cable. In Essex, fibre broadband averages download speeds of 55.3Mbps (Ofcom, June 2014). Distance from the exchange is less of an issue, but since the fibre networks are still in development, limited availability means not every premise can get it yet. Under the current Superfast Essex programme fibre broadband will be delivered in two ways: largely fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and some fibre to the premises (FTTP).
If your business needs greater and reliable speeds (both upload and download); must be online and operational 24/7; has multiple employees or customers using the network or has employees based at multiple locations, you may find that a Dedicated Leased Line is the way to go. Leased Line services are a lot more expensive than fibre broadband
because they provide a dedicated line just for your business, meaning it will not get affected at peak times or by increased demand from other customers. However, with this option you get much higher speeds, better reliability and more comprehensive support options.
Wireless, Satellite and Mobile broadband can be good options for more rural locations, especially if other technologies aren’t available.
Wireless solutions provide an alternative to or an extension of a wired network. A wireless network is only wireless at the final stage (known as the “last mile”). Last mile refers to the technology that carries signals from the exchange – the “last mile” – to and from your business. Wireless connectivity can be provided so long as you have clear line of sight. Upload and download speeds of up to 50Mbps can be achieved.
Satellite options use a satellite dish to provide two-way access to broadband services. Satellite can now offer download speeds of up to 20Mbps. The main advantage of satellite broadband is that it can be provided virtually anywhere, so long as you have a clear line of sight. Because of this, it can be affected by the weather as moisture in rain can cause errors on the link. A general rain shower shouldn’t affect things but a large storm could cause disruption. Satellite services also tend to have more stringent monthly download caps and latency (a signal delay due to distance) so this can make activities like video conferencing difficult. Also, some applications may not function at the optimum broadband speed as a result of the timing delays.
Mobile broadband can be used not just on your phone, but on laptops, tablets and other wireless devices too – wherever there’s a strong enough mobile signal. 3G is currently sold with a maximum download speed of 7.2Mbps and is available to 79% of premises and 61% of roads in Essex. 4G averages speeds of 8 – 12Mbps but as it is relatively new, it’s only currently available to 20% of premises and 16% of roads in Essex. However, Ofcom expect that 4G coverage will quickly overtake 3G and provide a substantial improvement in the availability of mobile broadband.