This is our last article of a series of articles that outline the different stages of a business’s growth and the different types of internet data connection that are most suitable for each stage. Today’s article concerns Stage 3 which is best suited for Medium to Large business or where a business is experiencing fast expansion and even has multiple sites.
Stage 3 Expansion – Medium to Large businesses and Multi-site
The Expansion stage is usually when a business is operating out of medium to large premises or has multiple locations with a large number of employees; or when the business has a heavy reliance on web-based solutions such as cloud services or internet-based phone systems and call centres. In both of these situations a new data connection is essential – at this stage, it is important to make sure you upgrade your connection to the point where you can run all bandwidth-hungry services efficiently. A common mistake is to underestimate the amount of bandwidth/throughput required and not upgrade far enough so that a few months later you find yourself having to upgrade again which results in unnecessary expenditure.
When your business is at this stage you need a Business Grade data connection offering:
- A reliable high-speed Internet connection
- Symmetrical, guaranteed bandwidth
- Dedicated 1:1 bandwidth (contention-free)
- Supported by a comprehensive SLA (Service Level Agreement)
- Scalable to suit your current business needs and future growth
There are two core services to consider for businesses at this stage – EFM (Ethernet First Mile) and EoF (Ethernet over fibre). Both offer their own advantages and disadvantages.
EFM (Ethernet First Mile)
EFM – Ethernet First Mile – is a dedicated data connection delivering guaranteed, uncontended bandwidth. This is unlike a broadband service which ‘shares’ bandwidth between users across the local BT network.
An EFM connection is also synchronous meaning upload and download speeds are the same. This delivers a very reliable data service for your business that can easily handle most web-based services and is also resistant to common connection problems. Due to running over bonded copper pairs EFM offers a high degree of resiliency since if one pair fails, up to 75% bandwidth can be retained.
The best way to look at EFM is as a lower bandwidth, more cost-effective version of EoF. One of EFM’s main advantages its cost – where it’s available and you’re happy with the bandwidth on offer it can be an easy choice in comparison to EoF. A 10Mb connection over EFM would cost from around £140 /month whereas the same speed over EoF could be from about £299 /month, this means that if your business is looking for a lower speed connection (up to 20Mbps) with all the benefits of a conventional fibre leased-line then EFM may be the better option.
EFM also entails a shorter lead time (typically 45 working days or less) due to being a copper-based service – this makes it ideal for companies who need leased-line connectivity but have cost or timescale issues relating to installation of fibre.
EoF leased line (Conventional Fibre Leased-Line)
EoF or Ethernet Over Fibre is the highest level of data connectivity available across the UK telecoms network. It offers dedicated bandwidth over a single Fibre Optic Line to deliver speeds of up to 1Gbps. Like EFM, EoF is a dedicated service and offers symmetrical bandwidth with enhanced SLA support meaning there is no better form of connectivity out there.
The main advantage of EoF is the level of connectivity it provides. EoF can provide the highest speeds currently available across a fixed line connection in the UK. As these speeds are synchronous it means that if your business is planning to adopt cloud-based solutions or internet-based phone systems then there is no better service available as bandwidth can be scaled to meet your requirements as your business grows. EoF is also very well suited to organisations with multiple office locations and can form the basis of a resilient P2P (Point to Point) connection or MPLS with one site offering internet breakout for all offices within the group. EoF also offers the strongest SLA in the industry with a 4 hour guaranteed fix time compared to EFM’s 6 hours.
Both EFM and EoF are the two best fixed-line data connectivity services currently available to businesses in the UK. EoF offers higher top-end speeds with more scope to grow with your company than EFM although lead-times can be long and are subject to survey. Consequently, if it’s available and bandwidth is acceptable, EFM can be the preferred option based on lower costs and shorter lead times.