Internet speeds have come a long way. Back in 1993, when the World Wide Web was first launched, public connections were restricted to ‘dial-up’ modems capable of speeds of just 56 kilobits per second (kbps). Assuming your modem operated at full speed (which it often didn’t), it would take a minimum of 10 minutes to download a song, and 28 hours to download a film (definitely not HD).
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From 1996 onwards, faster alternatives to dial-up – collectively labelled under the catch-all term ‘broadband’ – began to appear commercially. By splitting the signal in a single line between telephone and internet, connections became much more efficient, eventually allowing for download speeds of up to 10 megabits per second (10Mbps) and beyond to become standard. At these speeds, the first video streaming platforms like Skype and YouTube became viable.
Then, as the 2000s wore on, the first fibre broadband services emerged – using fibre optic cabling to quite literally transmit data signals at the speed of light. The 100Mbps barrier was broken, meaning it was now possible to download dozens of songs and feature-length movies in seconds, while live video and movie streaming became close to a buffer-less experience (and hence the arrival of Netflix).
But perhaps most importantly, the era of superfast and then ultrafast broadband opened the door to cloud computing. Driven by connection speeds up to 2000 times faster than the original dial-ups, it now became possible for businesses to access and run IT services hosted not on their own on-premise servers, but in remote data centres. And they could do so without any significant performance issues, without any latency or lag.
And yet it is largely because of the benefits that the cloud has brought to business IT, and partly because of the ongoing quest from businesses for seamless, flawless connectivity, that no one has rested on their laurels, even at 100Mbps. As cloud computing and communications services have vastly increased data traffic over public broadband connections, as businesses have come to rely on connectivity more and more as a critical operational asset, the search for faster, more reliable internet has been ongoing.
As we approach a new decade, the new standard for business class internet connection speeds has become one gigabit per second (Gbps) – 10 times faster than 100Mbps. For organisations looking for premium performance from their connections, 10Gbps is increasingly commonplace. We’ve entered the era of gigabit internet.
Why your business needs gigabit internet?
We should remember that 100Mbps is still considered a premium connection speed by most standards. Across the UK, the average domestic internet speed reported by Ofcom in May 2018 was 46.2Mbps, and had been rising rapidly year-on-year due to BT Openreach’s national fibre broadband roll out.
So why would you need a gigabit broadband connection for your business 20 times or more faster than the national average? The simple answer is, quality of service.
Think about what proportion of your IT systems, and beyond that your core business systems, rely on an internet connection these days. Instead of running telephones on traditional phone lines, you more than likely use a toll-free VoIP – Voice-over-IP – service. Instead of running bulky business management software programmes such as Salesforce, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics and so on from your own servers, you probably run at least part of these as SaaS cloud services, accessing the tools and desktops you need remotely via an internet connection.
It saves on the purchase, installation and maintenance costs associated with running complex platforms. But you rely on your internet connection to make everything work. Throw in remote data storage, running your own websites, using video conferencing to hold virtual meetings and so on, routing traffic between branch offices using MPLS IPVPN and more. At any one time, all of these different assets are making demands on your bandwidth just to function. To guarantee optimum, glitch-free performance across them all, you need considerable speed and bandwidth to spare.
Cloud computing also raises the issue of upload speeds. Traditionally, standard internet connections have been known as asymmetrical, because they do not have an equal balance between download and upload speeds. So you might get 80Mbps when downloading, but only 20Mbps when uploading. This is because most standard internet use is all about ‘incoming traffic’ – the web pages you browse, the media you access, it’s all about downloading content to your device, with comparatively little going in the opposite direction.
With business cloud computing, however, this is not the case. Whether it is taking part in two way voice or video conversations on a platform like Microsoft Teams, or filing resources in a cloud-based archive or database, businesses generally need to upload as much as they need to download. Business IT is very much about generating and communicating data as well as using it, so it has to be a two-way street.
Business class gigabit internet is designed to accommodate this by being symmetrical – providing equal download and upload speeds. So for 1gb broadband, you get maximum download speeds of a gigabit per second, and maximum upload speeds of a gigabit per second.
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How does gigabit internet work?
In principle, gigabit broadband functions no differently to other types of ultrafast internet connection, making use of fibre optic cabling for speed-of-light data transmissions. The main difference is how much of the connection route makes use of fibre cabling, and how much still relies on old-style copper telephone lines.
In the UK, the majority of ‘fibre’ broadband connections are what is known as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet, of FTTC. This means that fibre optic cabling is used to link central exchanges to the on-street cabinets that then distribute connections to individual properties. In FTTC set ups, these connections between cabinet and your home or business premises are still run over copper lines, limiting the connection speeds you can get.
To get really fast connections, you need to run fibre optic cabling all the way from the exchange to the premises – what is known as Fibre-to-the-Premises, or FTTP. This is what makes 1gb broadband speeds and higher possible.
In many countries and cities around the world, major public infrastructure programmes have already been launched (or completed) to roll out FTTP at large, effectively bringing gigabit internet to the masses. However, the UK is lagging behind, with just 3% of premises currently accessing 1gb internet speeds or higher. If you want gigabit fibre to your premises, you have to go through a specialist provider like M247.
There are, however, some benefits (for businesses at least) to this shortage of public gigabit internet connections. The service we provide is what is known as a leased line, running a dedicated fibre connection straight to your premises. This is a completely private connection, giving you exclusive access to the bandwidth and gigabit-plus connection speeds – no slowdowns when all of your neighbours also start running bandwidth-hungry applications, and fewer security risks.
With all of those resources available just for you, our fibre leased lines are capable of delivering 10gb internet connections and faster. These business-grade connections are also symmetrical by design, providing equal download and upload speeds, and can guarantee 99.95% uptime, with 24/7, 365 service monitoring should any faults occur.
Finally, to maximise the benefits of gigabit internet for your business, you also need on-site equipment to match the fibre cabling. You need routers capable of handling gigabit broadband traffic, including gigabit WiFi routers, you need gigabit-ready switches and you need gigabit ethernet for running the wired portions of your local area network. Again, this is something that M247 is able to advise on and provide as part of our dedicated to-the-premise gigabit internet service.
Why choose M247?
M247 recognises the need to improve business connectivity speeds to future proof your business and ensure high levels of productivity. Our ultrafast gigabit network offer speeds up to 10Gbps through fixed 1GB leased lines and wireless leased lines directly to your business. More and more businesses are upgrading to gigabit internet speeds as improved internet connectivity is essential for businesses wanting to grow and fully reach their potential.
- Symmetrical, uncontended gigabit speeds up to 10Gbps
- UK and Europe wide coverage
- Unlimited, dedicated service for your business
- Guaranteed network availability with 99.95% uptime
- 24/7/365 proactive monitoring