By Gary Young, Equinox
We are constantly bombarded with advertisements encouraging us to sign a contract for high-speed fibre-optic broadband. But is fibre-optic really the best option for your small business or for family use?
The answer is probably not! Let review what you need to know, why you shouldn’t bother to get it installed (although if you already have it – great) and what your options are.
Data is getting much cheaper on the 4G network, with networks such as EE and Lycamobile offering unlimited data plans (albeit with significant speed caps after a certain amount and some restrictions to tethering). For an unlimited deal, with no speed restrictions and no tethering ban look at Smarty.
These are good for anyone with a micro-business, and for larger small businesses they could easily become a sensible backup solution in the event of a broadband connectivity failure. 4G routers, bought with PAYG data sims, are easy to install and instantly on. BT is currently supplying them if you have a home broadband failure.
If your business has fewer than five people, this could be a sensible option and is already available wherever you have 4G coverage.
At the point 5G is rolled out across the country and devices are available, the data speeds promised by the 5G providers could make this a no-brainer. The only thing that could stop this is data costs, but with 4G data costs plummeting, there is no reason why 5G shouldn’t be even cheaper.
Whilst most opinions suggest that first generation 5G will be only slightly faster than 4G, most also expect this to ramp up rapidly.
5G routers and 5G phones are now starting to appear. EE has launched its 5G service in six cities around the UK, with another 10 expected during 2019. It will be fascinating to see the actual performance figures, compared to those touted.
Satellite broadband is not the cheapest option and so is only likely to be considered by families and businesses where alternatives are not available. Rural areas suffer from very low 4G coverage and 5G will only improve matters when the low frequency 700Mhz range is released by Ofcom. For many people satellite broadband is the only option in these circumstances, particularly for farms and rural business parks. Some companies, for example, bigblu are offering unlimited data packages. These have speeds averaging around 21Mbps from about £55 per month.
Wireless leased lines
Wireless leased lines are another alternative to fibre. There are a number of pros, and cons:
- The lines can be provisioned much faster. Assuming you can install a receiver on your roof, you can be connected in a matter of days. Standard leased lines have lead times that start at 30 days and go up from there. Six weeks is not unusual.
- Speeds of up to 1Gbps are common and can go as high as 2Gbps
- There is no reliance on BT
- You have to have access, and permission, to be able to install a receiver on your building’s roof. Unless you own the building, that may not be that simple. You then need to run a connection from the roof to your network.
- There has to be clear line of site. In some areas, that may not be an issue, but in metropolitan areas with ambitious building programmes, what seems like a great solution at the time can quickly disappear as a new building goes up in between you and the transmitter.
All four of these options are alternatives to fibre-optic broadband. Three are available now, with 5G available in a few cities. Installation can be achieved pretty quickly, with 4G available by zipping into Currys.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Young is Director of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Mike works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs. He is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business. www.equinoxcomms.co.uk