18 October 2018

Why you might need a backup internet connection

It is quite the understatement to say that an internet connection is a vital part of daily business activity. However, despite it’s importance, most businesses do not consider implementing a redundant or back-up internet connection.

A redundant internet connection is simply a backup line that can be used in the event of the main line failing or becoming unavailable.  Before we discuss fail-over options lets take a look at the typical broadband options in Ireland.

Here in Ireland, our choice of Internet provider is pretty limited. The copper infrastructure is owned by Eir. Other providers such as Three, Sky and Vodafone can use Eir’s infrastructure to provide Internet services under their own brand but essentially, they are reliant on Eir’s infrastructure and network team.

Siro is ultra fast fiber broadband (up to 1Gb).  Unfortunately this is currently only available in certain pilot towns.  Similarly Virgin Media (formerly UPC) offers speed up to 360Mb and although it is much more widespread than Siro, it is still limited to cities and larger towns and not available nationwide.

We are beginning to see the emergence of LTE providers from companies such as Imagine.  Whilst the daily data allowances are generous there tends to be a big differential between advertised and actual internet speeds and speeds can vary a lot from day to day.  Speeds are somewhat related to your location with respect to the nearest tower and number of other users on the same connection.

There are lot of small localised WISPs (Wireless Internet Service Providers) located throughout the country – These tend to fill in the large rural areas where all other internet provider options are non-existent. These connections tend to work on the 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz ranges which are susceptible to interference . However, in general, the connections tend to be stable enough.  A limiting factor is the low speeds that they offer – typically around 3Mb.

Satellite connections are available to any location with typical speeds of up to 30Mb. However, given the relatively high costs, 8Mb is more affordable.  These connections suffer very high latency and are not suitable for certain internet traffic such as voice over IP (VOIP).  Another negative aspect to this service is that it usually offers low data allowances.  Essentially, it isn’t really suitable as a primary internet connection.

So why would I choose to have a backup internet connection?

A typical backup internet connection will cost around €50/month or €600 per annum. What would the financial impact be on your business  it there was an internet outage and your business was unable to function. Imagine – no email, no remote access to the network, no access to your cloud services.  You’d probably have no sales and staff would essentially be idle.  Quite often the investment of  €600 per annum is a lot less than the financial impact of an internet outage.

What should I consider when choosing a backup internet provider?

Similarly to when you are choosing a primary internet provider you want to look at aspects such as service, cost, speed, latency and up-time.  A major point is to ensure that the backup connection is a different technology than that of your primary internet line. There is no point in having 2 failed copper lines so match an alternative internet type to your existing connection. Note that even different providers can use the same underground ducting to bring cabling into a building or under a road.  If a digger accidentally digs up a duct it can bring down both types of connections! For this reason it can be useful to consider a combination or cabled and non-cabled (wireless, satellite) for primary and backup internet lines.

So, hopefully I’ve convinced you that it is worth considering getting a backup internet connection for your business. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below


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