A fiber-optic Internet installation can offer numerous benefits to business IT pros and landlords. Due to the relative newness of this technology, you may be wondering if the benefits outweigh the cost or cons. While fiber-optic Internet connectivity is a much newer technology than broadband Internet on copper cable, many businesses have found significantly higher returns on their investment in fiber.
Fiber-optic Internet is many times faster than even the highest-speed copper Internet connections, with options available that range from 5 Mbps to 1 Gbps. During periods of high demand for Internet access, your business should not notice the Internet slowing down.
Research indicates that slow Internet connections cost employees “one week per year of productivity.” While the time your teams spend waiting on slow Internet can seem minor, it adds up significantly over time. Your Internet connectivity should never inhibit productivity. It should be a tool that supports your employees’ desire to work productively.
2. Cloud Access
From customer relationship management (CRM) tools to data storage, the cloud is an important business tool for apps, hosting, and more. 96% of organizations are now using the cloud in some capacity. The speed and bandwidth capabilities of fiber Internet mean faster access to your data and applications stored in the cloud.
Your business can benefit from fewer delays in accessing cloud-hosted information via your software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools and other platforms, which means your sales and customer service representatives will no longer face delays with communicating with prospects or customers. As businesses move more and more services to the cloud, fiber-optic Internet is becoming critical.
Fiber Internet connectivity offers significant reliability advantages over copper Internet connectivity, due to the fact that fiber is much stronger than copper. Fiber-optic Internet is not susceptible to inclement weather conditions, which can damage or stall data transmission via copper cabling. Fiber is also resistant to human or electrical interference unless fibers are physically cut.
Unreliable Internet connections can have real costs to businesses. Any amount of unplanned downtime can bring business communications and productivity to a complete stop. If your company requires an Internet connection to make phone calls or access applications, reliability is a necessity.
4. Signal Strength
With traditional broadband Internet using DSL or Ethernet over Copper, the signal degrades as the user moves away from the swtich. The signal strength of fiber-optic Internet does not degrade as quickly over distance. Organizations in relatively large spaces could benefit from better signal strength throughout the facility. This could be particularly true for employees in workspaces that are located a significant distance from the telecommunications room, which may be negatively impacted by distance with broadband Internet.
For businesses with a high need for data transmission, it’s relatively easy to “hit the cap” on your cable Internet bandwidth. While fiber-optic Internet for business is not truly unlimited, the bandwidth availability is significantly higher, and speed does not decrease as high demands are put on the network. The following user activities can place particularly high demands on business bandwidth:
- SIP trunking
- Web Conferencing
- Streaming high definition video (example… training video)
- File sharing
- Cloud Applications
Signs of low bandwidth availability can include slow speeds, delays, and pixelated video quality.
If your current Internet connection is not sufficient to support your company’s legitimate bandwidth demands for telephone service via SIP trunking, video conferencing or accessing cloud applications, you could significantly benefit from an upgrade to fiber-optic Internet connectivity.
6. Symmetric Speed
“Symmetric speed” is a term used to refer to equal upload and download times on an Internet connection. With fiber Internet, your employees can benefit from equal upload and download times.
Is symmetric speed necessary? It’s certainly not critical for business operations, but it’s beneficial. TechZine writes that improvements in symmetric speed are improvements that reflect “how networks are really used.” Today’s employees are more likely to upload video content, files, or make phone calls while downloading content while they work than they were a decade ago. Symmetric speed enables users to accommodate heavy demands on downloads and uploads simultaneously via their data connection.
Latency is a term used to describe delays that occur while processing data over an Internet connection. Fiber-optic Internet eliminates many of the latency issues users experience on cable Internet, particularly when downloading or uploading video or high-definition content. The business benefits of lowering your latency could include:
- Better voice quality for VoIP users
- Ability to move more apps to the cloud
- Downloads and uploads of huge files without disruption
- Improved collaboration between employees
Would-be hackers and information thieves can gain access to business cable Internet with relative ease, due to cable tapping or other relatively simple methodologies. The only way to penetrate fiber-optic Internet is to physically cut the fibers, which will cause the signal to disappear. Fiber-optic Internet is one powerful way to increase your company’s protection against cyber crime.
The average cost of an information security breach is R3.8 million. Companies who leak protected information can face stiff financial penalties and customer defection. While media coverage of high-profile security breaches often focuses on large organizations, companies of all sizes are at significant risk of an attack. While an upgrade to fiber-optic Internet connectivity won’t mitigate all of your organization’s risks, it’s certainly an important means of protection.
9. Resistance to Interference
Copper cable Internet that supports broadband is sensitive to electromagnetic interference, which can be caused by the proximity of heavy machinery. Fiber Internet signals do not degrade or disappear due to electromagnetic interference. If your organization shares a telecommunications room with other businesses, fiber-optic Internet can protect your connectivity from disappearing if other organizations are using equipment that can interfere with your connection in the same space.
10. Cost Savings
Fast Internet is “widely considered” to be a productivity tool for businesses. As mentioned above, eliminating speed issues could result in a week’s worth of productivity increases each year. If your business suffers from unreliable connectivity due to region or weather, you could be losing thousands of dollars each year. Productivity issues that are directly attributed to slow or unreliable cable Internet could disappear with fiber.
Perhaps more importantly, your business will gain flexibility and scalability with fiber-optic Internet connectivity. If your IT team is hoping to move more applications and services to the cloud, a fiber connection can support these initiatives. Software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud storage, and VoIP are all business services that have enormous potential for cost savings and benefit significantly from fiber connectivity.
11. Support for HD Video
For many companies, teleconferencing and video conferencing are important tools for employee training, marketing, and sales. With a fiber-optic Internet connection, businesses can increase their investment in video conferencing as a business tool without sacrificing available bandwidth. Research indicates that increased investment in video conferencing can save companies thousands of dollars per employee each year or even month, particularly if you’re able to cut out excessive business travel.
What are the Cons of Fiber-Optic Internet Service?
While minor, the cons commonly associated with fiber-optic Internet service may include:
- Financial investment in installation
- Potentially higher monthly service fees
- Limited access to providers
Despite the increased costs of fiber Internet service and the financial investment required for installation, many businesses believe they’re able to achieve a high ROI due to productivity and availability gains