Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why you need a fast(er) Internet connection.

Everyone is familiar with high-speed internet, or broadband as it’s sometimes called, and almost every business has some form of it. Often, people will say “I have DSL, why would I need anything faster?”, or “Why should I pay $150/month for internet, we don’t need to pay that much just to surf the web.” All high-speed internet connections are not created equal however. A basic DSL connection may be somewhere around the 1.5Mbit download/.75Mbit upload speed, while a VDSL, cable or fiber internet connection can be upwards of 30Mbit download/5Mbit upload. This speed difference can have a huge impact on how long it takes to perform a task online.

Most people would likely say the internet has two main purposes – seeking web content and processing email, but more and more it's used for actual business operation. Plus, there are other things going on in the background that may not be obvious. One of the most critical uses for an internet connection is to receive updates for computer operating systems, software packages, and anti-virus programs.

In today’s computing environment, it is critical to run updated antivirus software and install security updates to the computer operating system and software running on it. These updates are often fairly large files, and can be released frequently. Having a faster internet connection ensures that updates are downloaded and installed in a timely manner.

While web browsing and email may seem like a simple thing, it is important to consider employee productivity. Many businesses use the internet for a large portion of their day to day operations, whether doing research online, ordering product, or simply sending and receiving email. These small tasks can add up to a significant part of an employee’s day.

For example, placing an order for products from an office supply store on a 1.5Mbit connection may take three or four times longer than it would take on a 10Mbit connection just due to waiting for webpages to load. This may only be a savings of 1-2 minutes, but consider all the tasks that are similar to this, and how often they occur.

As more and more companies work with digital copies of documents, architectural drawings, photos, and videos, the size of email attachments and downloaded files have grown drastically. A typical drawing file from a program like AutoCAD can easily run into the dozens or hundreds of megabytes. A 50 megabyte file would take 5 minutes to download on a 1.5Mbit connection, versus 40 seconds on a 10Mbit connection. Imagine downloading dozens of such files every day, and it becomes immediately apparent where time can be saved.

Other reasons to have higher speed internet that I haven’t covered include remote user access, website hosting, email server hosting, streaming video/audio, and many others. In my opinion, no business today should be running on less than a 5Mbit connection. If hosting any sort of server on-premises (email for example), or using streaming media, that number goes up to 20Mbit down/2-3Mbit up.

Often, the cost difference between a basic 1.5Mbit connection and 10Mbit connection is less than $60/month. And since you and your employee's time is your most valuable resource, it's important that you make the most of it. So ask yourself, how much time do you waste waiting for your computer to give you what you want?

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