As a business grows, so does its technology needs. And if you’ve reached 20 or more employees, it may be time to move to a fiber-based product for your Internet needs.
With fiber, a company can increase its bandwidth simply by calling its provider, instead of going through the hassle of having equipment physically installed as with a T1 line, says Ryan Batey, enterprise sales manager for Atlanta with Comcast.
“The beauty of it is the scalability and reliability of the product,” says Batey. “It allows the Internet connection to grow with the business’s needs, getting away from a legacy network to a next-generation network.”
Smart Business spoke with Batey about how fiber-based technology can help your business operate more quickly and efficiently as your data needs grow.
How is the use of data changing the way businesses access the Internet?
Technology needs have reached the point where businesses are requesting larger bandwidths. In the old world, T1 lines were really popular. But if you needed to increase your bandwidth, you had to add another T1 line, increasing your bandwidth in increments of 1.5 Mbps. With T1 lines, your provider has to go in and physically install another T1 line. After you bundle seven T1 lines, you have to go to a larger DS3 circuit, requiring you to buy equipment with a DS3 card, which is capital-intensive.
With the scalable solutions available today with fiber-based products, you can start anywhere from 1 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps on the same circuit. As the needs of your business increase, so can the bandwidth. Fiber-based solutions give you the ability to buy a very specific bandwidth because you’re not restricted by the size of a T1 line that is very typical of legacy networks. And when you increase your bandwidth, even if you’re going from 1 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps, your customer interface and your equipment stay the same. The configuration is remotely changed by your provider, requiring just a few keystrokes to open the port.
What are the benefits of employing a scalable Internet solution?
No. 1 is the next-generation Ethernet technology handoff. Every office today that has computers, their local area network (LAN) is wired with Ethernet, so it’s a simple handoff for customers. Scalability is also a plus, as it can grow as your business does. And if you’re using a fiber-based product, you get reliability and a connection that is proactively monitored 24/7/365.
In addition, fiber can increase efficiency and free employees to do tasks other than waiting for data to load. For example, with a 1.5 Mbps T1 line, it would take you approximately 66 seconds to download a 100 Mbps file; with a 100 Mbps fiber connection, it would take approximately one second, and since the circuit is symmetrical you can upload and download at the same time and the same speed.
What types of companies can benefit from using fiber?
Most of the Fortune 5000 companies have already transitioned to this technology, and many medium-sized companies are reaching the point where they’re large enough to justify a fiber-based product.
Typically, once a company reaches 20 employees, it makes sense, or if you are a smaller company and use data-intensive applications, fiber is a good choice to increase efficiency.
For example, an engineering firm that moves around large CAD files would benefit from this technology. The government is also a major beneficiary, and the medical world is a big consumer. With a big push to make all medical records electronic, those records continue to consume more bandwidth, and this solution allows medical systems to scale and grow with the same circuit without having to install any more lines or equipment.
Is there a large upfront cost to get started?
Typically, no. The provider will try to absorb the capital expenditure to put the fiber in. There may be a standard installation fee, but you don’t have to buy internal equipment because you can plug it straight into your existing firewall or router. If you don’t already have that, you would have to purchase a firewall or router for security. In addition, monthly costs have come down substantially over the past few years, making it more cost-efficient for businesses to make the move to fiber.
How can a business determine if fiber is the right choice for its needs?
No. 1 is determining what kind of mission-critical data you are using. You have to ask yourself: Can I afford a service interruption? What kind of impact would an outage have on my business? Do I need someone proactively monitoring the connection 24/7/365?
If you decide fiber is right for your business needs, the provider will build fiber into your facility from its network. Because of permit requirements associated with roads, right-of-ways and railroad crossings, etc., the typical time for an install is 90 to 120 days. And once the fiber is installed, the business simply needs to program its routers with the new IP addresses.
Ryan Batey is enterprise sales manager for Atlanta with Comcast. Reach him at (770) 559-2156 or Ryan_Batey@cable.comcast.com.