on 13 January 14
Fibre optic broadband used to be a relative rarity, but with the rollout of FTTC (fibre to the cabinet), the expense of implementing infrastructural upgrades in the UK has fallen, just as average speeds have risen. For businesses, harnessing fibre optic broadband is arguably essential, since without it you will not be able to access any of the auxiliary benefits which it brings to the table. But what are those benefits and are they realistically available to all companies that make the leap to FTTC?
The chief benefit of fibre optic broadband is the faster connection speeds that it can deliver when compared with older ADSL services running over copper landlines. At most the theoretical maximum performance of a single ADSL connection will be 24Mbps, with real world speeds often far below this upper limit. Some businesses in isolated areas a long way from the nearest telephone exchange will find that the signal will have degraded to the point where it can barely be called broadband at all.
With FTTC, the maximum theoretical speed jumps up to somewhere around the 80Mbps, with most customers receiving a connection that comes close to hitting the top estimate, because fibre cabling results in less signal loss over long distances. Upload speeds are also much higher, reaching almost 20Mbps on a single FTTC connection. And if you choose FTTP (fibre to the premises) then things get faster still, with 330Mbps downloads available in certain areas. FTTP is far from universally available and you may have to pay to upgrade your FTTC line to a full fibre service, but for bigger businesses with higher usage requirements it may be worth the investment.
Fibre optic broadband not only offers faster speeds, but also much lower latencies than ADSL, which is important for operating apps and services in real time with minimal delay or lag. This all means that it is deserving of the superfast label which is regularly applied to it in marketing material.
The flow of data is critical for many modern businesses and this needs to occur quickly, not just internally, but with outside sources as well.
With FTTC broadband, transferring large files will be less time consuming and labour intensive, meaning that colleagues can collaborate with one another even if they are not on-site at the same time. This is important not only for collaboration, but also for business continuity, because it is important for organisations to back up mission-critical data off-site in order to preserve it in the event of a disaster and make it easy to restore. With fibre optic broadband you can create regular backups with a third party provider and even eliminate the need for in-house storage altogether, relying on cloud-based platforms to help keep your business agile and make sure that it is resilient to otherwise damaging situations.
Although businesses may rely on bespoke software platforms, using standard web browsing software is also likely to be important from day to day. When multiple employees are trying to get online at the same time, an older broadband service may be a bit of a bottleneck, but with FTTC you will have more bandwidth to support smooth, fast browsing for several simultaneous users.
If you are thinking about adopting a number of cloud computing services then web performance could become more important further down the line. Browser-based cloud interfaces are regularly required to link in with key solutions and you will want to facilitate the unhindered operation of such platforms.
Cloud adoption will not be right for every business and you may want to facilitate mobile and remote working using traditional methods, such as running a VPN. Slow connectivity can be a major obstacle, so with FTTC on tap a business will be able to transfer data securely to remote locations without compromising productivity. If you have employees who work from home, or want to give them the option to do so should they be unable to access the office, then fibre optic connectivity combined with a VPN could be a real boon. The domestic availability of FTTC also has an important application in such a set-up so it might be worth encouraging adoption among staff.
VoIP & Video Conferencing
Analogue telecommunications are still widely used, but in a business environment they are sorely outdated, having been superseded by VoIP and video conferencing. VoIP is an extremely malleable platform which can be hosted remotely in its entirety, allowing a third party provider to control all of the technical aspects while business users get on with reaping the benefits.
By basing telephony in a cloud environment, it is easier to manage calls, forwarding them to the most appropriate member of staff even if they are off-site and ensuring that geographic limitations are no longer in place.
Video conferencing has its own benefits, as with high bandwidth fibre broadband you can hold entire meetings and presentations with large groups of people without all having to gather in the same physical space. This is not only a major convenience, but also a cost-saver, because it means that you do not need to spend time and money on travelling for get-togethers and can effectively commune with clients, customers and business partners wherever they happen to be. If collaboration is an important part of your business, then VoIP and video conferencing will be invaluable, while both being facilitated through superfast broadband.
Businesses today need to be responsive to the shifting of the social media machine, which is always churning and generating new opportunities. Many companies will have dedicated employees or entire teams targeting relevant networks, even running marketing campaigns.
While a lot of social media is text-based, it is also vital to make the most of multimedia content to catch the attention of potential customers, so being able to upload photos and videos in no time at all via a fibre optic broadband connection will be beneficial for most organisations. The degree to which fibre optic broadband can benefit your business is difficult to overstate, because there is an almost endless array of additional advantages which have not yet been mentioned.
Most industry experts and politicians are in agreement about the idea that superfast broadband connectivity is vital to the future of the UK's economy and the businesses which adopt this technology as soon as it is available will be putting themselves at a competitive advantage. The call to increase FTTC broadband adoption is not one you can afford to ignore and with ongoing investment, areas which are currently lacking this option should soon get the relief they deserve.
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