Anyone who has used the internet for a decade or more doesn’t need to be reminded of how much difference a fast internet connection can make to your life – even if you’re only online to read the news, chat to friends or look at family pictures. And for business, it can make the difference between profit and loss.
If you cast your mind back to the days of dial-up and trying to get your Windows 98 to connect to AOL, you’ll remember the utter frustration accessing the internet entailed. Not only did you need a landline phone and a screeching modem, but when you did manage to get online, connections often dropped at the most inconvenient times, such as when you were trying to send an email or file. And as for trying to download video content, sophisticated software or high resolution images, you could forget it, unless you resigned yourself to it taking all night.
Luckily the days of dial-up are long behind us and most homeowners and businesses have access to some sort of broadband. Speedy internet connections are now more important than ever – and as computers become more sophisticated and require more memory and data, your connection to the internet needs to be faster and faster just to keep up with the technology.
But broadband in Australia is a complicated affair. Many providers claim they offer broadband but it doesn’t always mean that you’re getting the top speeds, or even enough power to do business effectively. A basic DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), the type that used to carry your phone lines, can offer at most 7 Mbps, while a cable link offers up to 50 Mbps.
Spend more money and you can get a fiber internet connection which, in theory, can offer a gigabyte per second (1 Gbps). It could be some time before such dizzy speeds are available to Australian users and all the recent issues surrounding Telstra haven’t helped matters. But it is certainly good advice to get the best speed you can afford, as it can make a major difference to your company and its productivity.
A speedy internet connection is not just important when it comes to things you’re actively doing online such as seeking web content and sending off emails. Remember that there is always something going on in the background that takes up bandwidth and affects speed, such as virus protection and your operating systems.
With this in mind, here’s a quick rundown of why your business will benefit if you’re in the fast lane of the information superhighway.
You save time
As we’ve already said, when internet connections are slow, it takes time to get things done online, and time is money. Those precious minutes when staff are waiting for documents, images or files to download is unproductive time. And this can add up to many hours each month, hours you still have to pay wages for. A fast, efficient connection can ensure these tasks are carried out nearly instantly, so that your team can be getting on with the next task right away.
You boost sales and services
If people are seeking your services online rather than in the high street, they are probably trying to save time themselves. So optimised internet speeds are vital for this type of business. After all, people are increasingly impatient and so page download speed is ever more important.
Take Amazon, perhaps the world’s biggest online retailer, for example. They estimate that for every one second delay in the loading of pages, they will lose US $1.6 billion in sales annually. Apparently, four in 10 Americans simply give up trying to access any mobile shopping site that won’t load within three seconds. Of course, we Australians are a more patient people (we have to be with Telstra in charge of our internet) but your customers still won’t give much time to a site that’s not working swiftly. And you will have a lot of competitors out there who are just a click away from your slow site.
Support multiple users
The chances are that at any point in the day, your internet system are supporting several users and devices. Your desktop machines are online of course, but your staff will be logged into your wi-fi systems on personal devices on the same network. And of course, the more people who are accessing the internet in your office, the more of your total bandwidth has to be shared, slowing it down for everyone.
To remain efficient, each user needs at least 1 Mbps of download speed to view web pages and email efficiently. Uploading content, files and images requires even more power. And if you use video conferencing you’ll require state-of-the-art connections to get the best results. Basically as your company grows and you demand more from your technology, you are going to need faster and more efficient internet. In an online world, it is one of the best ways to stay competitive and ahead of the curve.
Enjoy VoIP phone services
Most small and medium sized business owners now know that there are benefits to using internet telephone solutions such as VoIP and using the internet rather than landlines to carry your voice, video and messaging. It saves you money on international calls but it can take up a great deal of bandwidth, especially if lots of your team are making calls at the same time.
Better broadband can handle more simultaneous calls. So if your company is reliant on phones, remember that the cost of increased and faster bandwidth is still much lower than the cost of overseas calls on traditional landlines. This is an area where paying more for faster internet can save you money in the long term.
How much speed do you need?
Of course, while everyone wants the fastest speed they can afford, not every company has to spend top dollar. Many businesses will find that their current setup is just fine for now. But as you add new apps and update your systems you are going to need more juice. Well, there are some things that you can do to improve speed without paying too much. Simply changing your routers or your providers can help give you more speed.
But you should do regular scans for viruses. Malware and botnets could already be in your systems and causing you security issues, but they also take up your bandwidth. Getting rid of them can boost your speed. Another good tip is to plug your desktop machines directly into your routers rather than relying on Wi-Fi connections. This can speed things up greatly, as can updating your firmware and software often. Not many people seem to know that routers and modems have their own software and this can be updated or patched by going to the manufacturer’s website for the latest updates.
First of all you need to know your current speed and this can change depending on the time of day among other factors. There are a range of online tests that will measure your upload and download speeds, Speedtest.net being an easy to use application.
Beware of people touting extra powers
There are always a lot of companies promising to boost your internet speeds, sometimes tenfold. But all too often, the facts and figures behind such promises are based upon the most ideal broadband speeds at optimal conditions. They may also require the best fiber, cable, routers and servers which would be expensive to arrange across a whole company.
If you want to get the best internet speeds possible for the best price, you’re really going to need expert help. Of course, you need to be sure your current hardware can handle the extra speeds. When you are spending money to update hardware and online connections, do the math and try to work out if the extra speed will drive extra productivity to cover the costs of your investment.
The Director of Empower IT, Salim Sukari says, “These days, the speed of the your internet dictates the speed of your whole company. The faster it works, the most you can get done. But first, consider your needs and the applications you are using before you spend money. You may be able to get a better performance from your current setup with some expert tweaking. So talk to the team here at Empower IT and we can ensure you’re working at full capacity, however you use the internet to run your company.”
Want a better internet connection or think you could benefit from an upgrade? Worried that your business is being hampered by slow uploads? Come and talk to the team at Empower IT, we can help.