What is Ethernet Connectivity and How Can it Benefit Your Business?
Find out about the different types of Ethernet and how a dedicated connection can help your business bloom.
When thinking about internet connections for business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that broadband is the only option available. In fact, there are many options to get your business online such as Ethernet, otherwise known as a leased line. But what is Ethernet? Ethernet has many advantages which makes it an ideal choice for businesses who can’t afford downtime. Many people think IT downtime only costs them a few hours, but when your systems go down you can suffer loss of sales, customer service issues and ultimately loss of custom. This article will explain the benefits of Ethernet and why it could be the ideal choice for your business.
What is Ethernet?
Simply put, an Ethernet connection provides internet connectivity. Ethernet connections, also known as leased lines, offer private connections that can be tailored to your business needs. The biggest benefit Ethernet provides in comparison to other connectivity options like broadband is its reliability. Ethernet connections are backed by Service Level Agreements or SLAs. These detail target fix times, and even guaranteed uptime of the services you are purchasing.
Broadband may be cheaper than Ethernet, but one of the downsides for business is that it’s an asynchronous connection, meaning downloads are faster than uploads. Broadband is also a contended link which means that at peak times performance may suffer as more people are using the connection. It’s likely to be subject to caps on the amount of data you can download. With an Ethernet connection, since the circuit is reserved for your use only, there are no worries about contention from other businesses or individuals using the link, meaning performance levels will remain the same at all times whereas broadband is a shared connection once it leaves your building. In addition, the speeds it can deliver will vary depending on the type of circuit used.
Ethernet business benefits
To answer the question what is Ethernet, we also need to look at what it can do for your business. To some extent, this depends on the types of things you use the internet for. If your internet usage is fairly light, things such as sending email, shopping online, or using some cloud storage for backing up your essential files, you may well find that a broadband connection – fibre broadband in particular – will be good enough to meet your needs. But if you need to operate outside of normal office hours, remember that you’re likely to suffer from contention issues due to lots of other people being online accessing streaming and other data-intensive services in the evening. Contention can be a problem at other times too of course, particularly if you’re located in an area where there are lots of other businesses all of whom are accessing the internet using broadband at the same times of the day.
Ethernet really begins to come into its own when you start to make more intensive use of the internet for business purposes. Nowadays more and more of us are moving to the cloud, not just to store data, but to run systems on an as-a-service basis. If you are heavily dependent on the cloud for any of your day-to-day operations, then the guaranteed speed offered by a leased line connection in addition to its two-way speed advantage begin to make a lot of sense.
Ethernet is also useful for businesses that are distributed over a number of sites. In these circumstances, it’s common to use services like video conferencing or VoIP phone calls to keep everyone in touch at low cost. But these services use a lot of bandwidth, so will run much more smoothly when using an Ethernet connection, particularly because the upload and download speeds are the same, eliminating bottlenecks.
These equal speeds can help with other aspects of your operation too. For example, if you regularly need to upload large files – sending documents to other users, exchanging data with suppliers and customers, or saving information in the cloud – then you’ll benefit particularly from a leased line’s asynchronous connection.
What are the different types of Ethernet?
When it comes to the technology involved, what is an Ethernet connection? It’s important to understand that there are different types of Ethernet meaning whatever your business size or budget, there will be a leased line to suit your business needs. There are four principal types of Ethernet which I will summarise below:
The first and most popular connection is fibre Ethernet where there’s a dedicated fibre connection from your premises to the ISP. Boasting speeds of up to 10Gbps, fibre Ethernet offers the fastest connection but is also the most expensive and takes longest to install taking up to 70 days. This fully managed end-to-end fibre solution offers unparalleled levels of reliability and speed and can be implemented in most locations regardless of whether or not fibre is available. Delivering speeds of up to 10Gbps, fibre Ethernet makes sure that the most demanding applications can be run smoothly.
Ethernet first mile
It’s still possible to get leased lines delivered on copper circuits in areas where fibre is currently unavailable. This often uses something called Ethernet first mile (EFM), where leased lines are provided using a combination of linked pairs of cables and some clever signal processing technology, so they can achieve fast speeds over a conventional copper circuit. Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) provides a solution using multiple copper wires to connect your premises straight to the Ethernet core network. The dedicated, uncontended connection provides a high symmetrical bandwidth. Offering ultrafast speeds of up to 35mbps, EFM is the ideal solution if you would like all the benefits of fibre Ethernet at a cheaper cost. If your business would like complete control of its connectivity and any loss of service would have a fundamental or operational impact, EFM would be an ideal choice.
GEA (Generic Ethernet Access) or EoFTTC (Ethernet over Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) is a cost-effective solution where existing fibre or copper cables connect your business to the nearest street cabinet, and then a dedicated Ethernet line carries your data to the core network. In this case, a fibre optic trunk circuit terminates at a street cabinet and the remainder of the circuit to your business arrives over a separate connection. EoFTTC offers ultrafast speeds of up to 20mbps, and is now available in most parts of the UK. This solution promises symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 19 Mbps, with unlimited data usage. With install times of as little as ten days, this is a great option if your business needs a quick turnaround.
Point-to-Point circuits are high availability, low latency private circuits which are perfect for connecting two or more offices in different locations, ensuring your data is more secure and network performance is more reliable. Offering up to 10Gbps upload/ download speed, a point-to-point connection is ideal for connecting two or more sites. Point to point circuits are highly secure and come with robust SLA’s.
Why use Ethernet?
As your organisation grows and more people need to use the internet connection, it may be time to start thinking about Ethernet instead of broadband. This applies too if you are sharing information regularly with other businesses, as part of developing an integrated supply chain, for example. The added reliability and speed you get from a leased line will help deliver on digital transformation projects. This, in turn, will give all users of the system a better quality of user experience while using your network, leading to smoother operations and improved productivity.
It’s important to note the security advantages of Ethernet. Because Ethernet is a dedicated connection it becomes much harder for data in transit to be intercepted by hackers. In addition, you can add your own standards of access control and encryption solutions to protect your information further should you wish. With new legislation such as GDPR on the horizon, along with increasingly strict industry compliance requirements in many sectors, the security advantages of a leased line should be a major consideration.
Service Level Agreements (SLA’s)
Despite a growing dependence amongst businesses on the internet, recent research carried out by One Poll has discovered that slow internet connections cost the UK economy £11bn a year in lost efficiency, as millions of staff are left unable to work during periods of IT downtime. How would your operations be hit if you were to lose internet access for a day or more, or even for a few hours? It may be that it would be an inconvenience that you could live with. But more likely you would quickly begin to lose business and money.
Because Ethernet is a commercially-focused service, the levels of service surrounding it are geared to business users. The service level agreements (SLA’s) with the supplier should offer you guaranteed levels of uptime than you would get with a broadband connection. Also, if there were to be a problem the leased line SLA would ensure that it is fixed in a guaranteed time. Levels of support are better too, giving you a service that’s geared to business needs and the ability to talk to someone to get problems or configuration issues resolved. In deciding on a leased line service, therefore, the choice of service provider is just as important as the technology. The best suppliers will be able to offer you a tailored service level agreement that ensures that the circuit meets the needs of your business and also means that you get a reliable service that will be there when you need it.
If downtime would cost your business custom, then the guaranteed speeds and SLAs that come with a leased line connection more than make up for the extra cost. Because Ethernet delivers the same connection speeds at all times of day with no contention, there are no slow-downs if you’re working outside normal office hours meaning an Ethernet connection delivers consistent speeds for staff whatever the time of day.
For more information on the best leased line solution for your business, contact leasedline.co.uk and speak to our team directly by calling us on 0808 115 4281 or get in touch online today.Call Us On 0808 115 4281