Fast Internet, Being able to count on fast, stable, and efficient internet access allows you to take advantage of all the development possibilities offered by digital.
How do you make the right choice for your company’s connectivity without getting lost in the myriad of offers available on the market?
Here is a short guide that can help you simplify your choice.
Without fast Internet, your business does not exist.
The internet and voice connection is one of the pillars of corporate efficiency. Everything now depends on the Internet: computers, smartphones, Cloud servers, virtual switchboards, and management internet IoT devices.
Without the Internet, businesses would not be able to function.
A downtime (i.e., the failure of connectivity) is one of the worst Internet for those who do business because it can paralyze all activities, damaging the image and losing the Internet.
Despite this growing awareness, many companies continue to see internet access as a commodity of choice, pursuing the seemingly cheaper offer. It is also often based on misleading data, such as the nominal access speed advertised by the Operator.
The choice of the best connectivity for companies must instead be made consciously, evaluating the less visible services and making them efficient in every situation.
Here are some aspects to always keep in mind:
- availability of the best access technologies for each company site
- high-performance transport network for latency times, packet loss, and round trip delay
- ability to manage internet traffic by the operator to avoid slowdowns
- backup services that ensure business continuity if the main line fails
- assistance services able to predict faults and resolve them quickly.
At this point, it is right to take a few seconds to analyze, in broad terms, how a telecommunications network works.
How a telecommunications network works
A telecommunications network is a set of devices, transmission channels, and procedures that allow two remote terminals (telephones, smartphone, computers, webcams, etc.) to exchange information.
The data line that connects the terminals, whatever technology it uses, is only one of the components of this network architecture and by itself cannot determine the quality and value of Internet access.
Some lines may have slightly higher costs with the same access speed because they can guarantee high quality and safe performances. An element that every company must take into consideration.
The access and transport network, together with the operator’s traffic management capabilities, create value for your business.
The access network connects the company headquarters to the first zone exchange. For this reason, it is also referred to as the “last mile.”
Various transmission means such as Copper, Fiber, or Radio are used to carry out this access. The most common access technologies use copper and optical fiber, or a combination of them. The names used at the beginning of the article (FTTC, FTTH, ADSL, and FWA) refer precisely to these combinations.
The choice of the type of access depends on the technologies available in the area and the Customer’s bandwidth needs.
Many areas of our country, for example, are not yet reached by fiber. Or many companies are too far from the local headquarters to be able to use certain technologies. An example can help to understand better: the distance of the company headquarters from the street cabinet or the zone control unit affects the performance of copper accesses to make the service not available.
In addition to the distance, the performance of the access network depends on other physical characteristics (such as attenuation, signal/noise, optical attestation, etc.), which can change over time. The role of an operator who wants to provide a quality service is to constantly monitor these parameters to anticipate or mitigate degradation in performance.
Once the access line (FTTC or FTTH) has reached the first exchange or the street closet, the transport network guarantees the Internet connection. This is the network managed by the Operators and interconnects all the national and international access networks.
The backbone of a TLC operator is made of high-performance optical fiber and must be built with the highest levels of reliability and safety. The operator must manage his proprietary network with traffic control and redundancy systems that ensure low latency and avoid slowdowns or blocks in services.
An increasingly crowded internet network
The importance of this last point must never be underestimated.
The access technologies are the same for all suppliers. The quality of the service offered by the operator is measured above all by the ability to avoid performance degradation due to network saturation.
A recent example is related to the start of the lockdown. In that period, the Italian internet network was severely tested by the increase in internet traffic generated by people who worked in smart working or who used streaming video services.
Many users have experienced slowdowns due to the exponential increase in data transiting on the network and what is commonly called overbooking.
Explaining overbooking is simple.
To make the data travel as quickly as possible from one end of the network to the other, the capacity of the connections must be as high as possible and sufficient for the data of all the customers who use the web.
Overbooking means selling a more significant amount of bandwidth than what the technological potential can be used to support.
Under normal conditions, not all consumer users consume large bandwidths at the same time. But at peak times – which can also happen at certain times of the day – performance can drop significantly.
Regardless of the maximum speed of the access network and its type, the more overbooked it is done, the lower the line performance will be and variable over time. This is because network resources are shared by many users, businesses, and consumers without distinction.
This is exactly what happens with airlines that choose to issue a greater number of tickets than the flight capacity: someone will get on board, but someone will inevitably remain on the ground.
Control makes the difference.
Once again, control makes a difference and determines the value of a telecommunications offering.
In this context, in fact, the Operator must have a high capacity for monitoring and controlling the network to avoid unwanted degradation of performance due to saturation, what is called “bottlenecks.”
Each Operator who intends to provide a service with guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) must therefore be able to measure and constantly adapt their services to their Customers’ actual habits and real needs.
Choose the most suitable internet access technology.
Knowing that the performance of an internet line depends on many factors, and not just on access, is essential.
However, the first step in choosing connectivity remains that of the access technology.
Knowing these technologies is also essential in choosing a possible backup line for your company. In this case, exploiting differentiated technologies makes it possible to reduce the risks associated with network failures.
Dedicated or shared fiber
Very often, in the operators’ offers, we speak generically of fiber. But not all fibers are created equal.
In all FTTH (Fiber To The Home) connections, the fiber optic connection directly reaches the user’s site.
What makes the difference, in terms of performance and price, is the fact that the Fiber is dedicated or shared.
The dedicated fiber directly connects the router at the Customer’s premises with the operator’s PoP.
The fiber access cable is used only by the single Customer. This network architecture ensures consistent performance, with speeds up to 1 Gbps symmetrical and greater resilience.
With shared fiber (e.g., in FTTH connectivity with GPON technology), the connection passes through a building switch or a street cabinet (OLT) before arriving at the PoP and is used by several users.
The theoretical speed of a shared FTTH can reach up to 1Gbps in download, but the real performance depends on many factors, such as simultaneous use. Only the constant monitoring of the operator can protect the quality of the service.
Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC)
Another type of access technology is FTTC (Fiber To The Cabinet ).
In this case, the fiber optic connection arrives in an external booth very close to the user’s site and then reaches the site with a copper twisted pair in VDSL or VDSL2 technology.
The maximum download speed of a VDSL is around 100 Mbps (20 for upload).
However, the actual performance of this access technology depends on the distance from the street cabinet: over 700 meters, the performance is significantly reduced due to a phenomenon called attenuation. Above 1500 meters, the version becomes similar to that of an ADSL.
xDSL is still the most widespread access technology in Italy.
The user’s site is reached by one or more copper pairs in ADSL (asymmetrical) or SHDSL (symmetrical) technology connected directly to a DSLAM installed in the zone exchange (Line stage).
Also, in this case, the main factor affecting performance is the distance from the control unit: the attenuation begins to be felt around 1500 meters, making the technology unusable at 5000 meters.
Radio and FWA
In areas with low coverage, not reached by the fiber, or too far from the zone control units, the choice may fall on the radio or Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology which allows broadband or ultra-wideband connections.
The user’s site is reached by a point-to-multipoint radio link with the shared band or point-to-point with the dedicated band with Hiperlan or WiMax technologies.
There is undoubtedly the right technology for your business needs, regardless of the size and complexity of the organization.
The most important thing when choosing is to consider the quality of the service as a whole. The performance and resilience of the operator’s infrastructure, the monitoring capacity of the network, and the levels of after-sales assistance must always be carefully evaluated: only in this way does the internet connection become a pillar of the growth of your business.