Business internet – why quality is more important than speed

As a provider of cloud services since 2003, we have seen a major evolution  in the field of networking as well as internet connectivity options for businesses.  This evolution has been driven not only because of technology advancements – but also in the way end users in organisations interact with IT.


Unfortunately, we continue to see in some cases – a degree of confusion in some IT teams to understand what the evolution means. And, how to transition from an old-school server-farm based environment to a cloud-enabled, customer facing organisation.


There are a few simple considerations that need to be taken into account for any business. But within those simple considerations, there is a virtual minefield of contingencies that decision makers need to think about.


Firstly, we would like to share why quality is more important than speed. Then we will share our simple way of thinking on what each business needs to consider as part of their choices.


The most important thing is the travel time of data, not theoretical speed

Theoretically, there are few limits to the maximum speed you can achieve in terms of connection to the internet from your premises. You can buy the fastest speed possible and have multiple connections to your premises. But thinking only in terms of maximum speed is like choosing a car solely on this value.


Having a car that can travel at 250-300km/h may seem like a great idea but you are still limited by the speed limits on the roads, the traffic you encounter when you drive and the routes available to get to your destination. They are a much bigger determinant of travel time than the top speed of your car. Why? Because unfortunately unless you have your own roads, you are subject to other users on the road (as well as the road rules).


Your internet connection is just your driveway to get onto the road

The connection you buy to the internet is simply the first step in the movement of data. Obviously the requirements to this are very similar to what they were when we had server farms on premise. You can determine how much traffic exits the premise, at peak times and at slow and this will determine the type of connection you will need.


If you have a Gigabit connection to your premise, you can move a gigabit per second to the exchange – when it works.


Why quality is more important than speed

In normal movement of data, the speed of connection is just the top speed possible. If there is no other data in the same pipe, there should be no trouble getting the speed you pay for. Unfortunately, just like traffic – there are most likely always going to be other users trying to push and pull data from the internet at the same time you are.


Our super car that can travel really fast, takes the same time as an old clunker when traffic is bad. Your internet connection is basically the same. Understanding the contention rate your provider operates at is more important than the top theoretical speed. Contention rates of 50:1 are not uncommon in Australia but 20:1 is where most providers operate at. What this means is that for the fixed amount of bandwidth speed, there are likely to be roughly 20 other users using the same bandwidth.


Telco’s are not always transparent when it comes to the actual quality of traffic compared to maximum possible speed. Although, they are required for the NBN to advise of typical peak speed. This has been a vast improvement from a consumer point of view but where does it leave business.


Other factors that are still limiting the performance of your business internet

There are a number of other factors that determine performance. Availability of fiber vs copper, how it connects to the premise, the network in the building and of course the distance to the exchange.


Most of you are familiar with these other issues that determine your internet speed and you are somewhat limited based on where your premises are. Without bashing the NBN, the roll out is taking its time but there are many other options available while you wait or that even provide better connections that the NBN offers.


We work with over 20 last mile carriers across Australia which allows us to cater to the specific performance and economic requirements of businesses. As a wholesaler, we also get greater transparency to the actual performance in a given area and can tailor the right solution to each business.


From the exchange on.

Now that your data has started its journey – the next consideration is how that data gets from the exchange to your other premises, or your customers or wherever it goes. Just like normal vehicle traffic, when you join the main road out of your little area – so are many thousands of others in peak area.


One of our team describes his morning commute as pareto in practice. The first 80% of the trip takes just 20% of the time. The remaining 20% of the distance takes 80% or longer. The slow down is where all the pockets from individual areas meet the main road and then of course exit later on down the route.


Regardless of the fastest, lowest-contention connection to your premises – when your data leaves the exchange – your data joins everyone else in traffic. This simple cannot be controlled purely through a simple internet connection. If the contention rate jumps from 5:1 to the exchange to 1000:1 to the internet – it is going to slow you down.


Many businesses have dedicated Wide-Area Networks to connect their office or premises and this was particularly common when servers were on-premise. This meant that they had their own special VIP lanes to get through traffic faster.


To build your own network or use another

For the same reason why we do not build our own cars or build our own roads, often it will make more sense to leverage an existing network of roads. Imagine having to build your own road every time you want to go somewhere new? That just does not make any sense.


It is the same for your movement of data. Unless you have dedicated resource to continuously plan, manage and monitor ,and, can achieve at least a 10:1 ROI on that individuals time – it makes more sense to most businesses to leverage existing investment.


Managed Private Wide Area Networks are simpler for businesses and are a lot more cost effective than old-school  build your own methods. They offer the same degree of control and customisation as a DIY effort, but often provide a better degree of control to the last mile of each of your premises rather than compromising on some to keep it all with one telco.


Our own owned and operated network spans the eastern seaboard from QLD to VIC offers high-speed public cloud interconnects and is completely customisable so it fits your business needs like a glove.


It all comes down to numbers

When it comes to the performance and economics of the situation – economics in business generally wins. But looking purely at the cost of the local connection and basing a decision on speed alone will not deliver the best result for a business.


Especially for businesses who rely on an internet connection to trade – these decisions are not one to leave to chance but are worth talking to an expert rather than just a telco. Talk to your reseller or feel free to get in touch.