How Fast is Ethernet - Inside Cables

How Fast is Ethernet?

There are few things more frustrating than a slow connection. Find out how fast Ethernet is and how it can help you avoid a slow connection.

You’ll have come across this at home, struggling to pay a bill, or seeing buffering when trying to stream a film. If you’re heavily reliant on the internet for business – you’re using cloud services for example – then it’s an even bigger problem and could well be costing you money.

So, what can you do about low speeds? You might consider upgrading to a faster connection, but there are a number of different types out there, so which is going to be best for your needs? It can all seem rather complicated so let’s try to simplify things a bit and understand what internet speed means and how the different types of connection operate.

Understanding speed

When you see internet connections advertised, you’ll usually see the speed expressed in megabits or gigabits per second (Mbps or Gbps). In fact, this isn’t a measure of the speed at all, it’s a measure of bandwidth. It defines how much data you can transfer in a particular time. Find out what bandwidth means here.

You can think of this as akin to water flowing down a pipe. A narrow pipe restricts the flow, switching to a wider pipe doesn’t make the water flow faster, it simply allows more to pass through in the same amount of time.

There are other factors at play in addition to the headline speed too. With broadband connections, there’s less outgoing bandwidth than incoming bandwidth; this is known as an asynchronous connection. In addition, the connection to the exchange from your nearest street cabinet is shared with other users in your area. This means that there are multiple people using the same bandwidth, so there will be less available to you at times of peak demand, something known as contention.

As you can see, therefore, there are multiple factors involved in how fast your internet seems.

Internet use

How fast an internet connection do you really need? In the early days of domestic broadband 0.5 Mbps seemed a lot faster than the dial-up connections that had gone before. Now, if you have fibre, you’re likely to take 10 or even 20 Mbps speeds for granted.

But domestic use is very different to business. Many organisations are increasingly reliant on the net. They use cloud storage, as-a-service applications, and voice over IP telecommunications, all of which need a fast, reliable connection to run smoothly. This is where the shortcomings of broadband – the asynchronous link and the contention – show up as a problem, whereas in a domestic situation you’d barely notice them.

Businesses, therefore, are increasingly turning to alternatives in the form of Ethernet connections.

How fast is Ethernet and what is it?

Ethernet is the same technology that is used to run most local area networks. Developed by Xerox in the 1970s it allows networked machines to communicate with each other using twisted pair cable. Since the late 1990s, this has typically been at speeds of 1 Gbps.

Now, however, it’s possible to take Ethernet beyond the boundaries of the office and use it to provide a direct connection to your internet service provider. An Ethernet leased line is more expensive than broadband but it eliminates all of the disadvantages of broadband we’ve discussed above.

An Ethernet link is synchronous, so there’s equal bandwidth available in both directions, allowing cloud services to run smoothly. It’s also dedicated to your use, so there is no contention to worry about. There also no limits on the amount of data you’re allowed to transmit as there often are with broadband connections.

How Fast is Ethernet - Ethernet HubHow fast is Ethernet? The answer really depends on your connection. Ethernet speed with a fibre optic connection can give you up to 10 Gbps connection. If you’re not in an area where fibre is available, you can still get an Ethernet connection. This is thanks to a technology called Ethernet first mile which provides the link using a combination of copper cabling and signal processing technology. Speeds of up to 35 Mbps are possible and it has all the other advantages of synchronous connection, no data limits and no contention.

As you can see the answer to ‘how fast is Ethernet?’ is about more than just speed. But there are advantages beyond the technology too.

The business case

We’ve seen that an Ethernet connection can provide technical advantages, but it benefits your business in other ways too. Because it’s a business focused product it comes backed by a service level agreement (SLA) aimed at commercial users.

This SLA will usually ensure a minimum service standard along with guaranteed fix times in the event of a problem. Ethernet leased lines are also a monitored service. This means that the service provider keeps an eye on the connection and is able to spot any developing issues before they become sufficiently severe to cause a failure.

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Alternatively, check out affordable packages on BT leased line.

With new legislation such as GDPR on the horizon, it’s worth mentioning that Ethernet connections have security benefits too. Because your connection to the ISP isn’t shared, there’s less chance of your data being intercepted in transit.

Ethernet leased lines can be used to connect your own premises too. If you have multiple sites, this effectively allows you to run the same local area network across all of them. If you’re using VoIP telecoms, for example, this will mean that you will be able to use the same service from each of your sites.

Ethernet lines are more expensive than broadband, as you might expect. They also have a longer lead time for installation. However, this can be offset against the benefits to your business. The more you rely on the internet and the cloud, the greater the beneficial effect you’ll feel. A more reliable internet service could well give you an edge over the competition and that has to be worth the extra cost involved.

If you want to improve your internet, or you aren’t sure which service would be right for you, call our team on 0808 115 4281 or get in touch online today so our team can help find the best solution for you and your business.

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Rehan Patel