Business internet options compared

A list comparing the pros and cons of various business-grade internet connections

By - April 28, 2012
Business internet connection no internet

Is there a “best” way for a business to connect to the Internet? Is one type of connection “better” than another? When should a business consider changing its mode of access?

According to Andre Joubert, GM of MWEB Business, there is just one answer to all these questions: it depends.

“How to connect to the Internet depends on how much Internet traffic your business generates, how large your average files are, your budget, where your business is located, what you use the Internet for and how important the speed of the connection will be to you,” said Joubert.

“All the various connectivity options – fibre, ADSL and the different flavours of wireless – have pros and cons. The trick is to evaluate each and then make a more informed decision based on your business’s needs and circumstances.”

Andre Joubert

Andre Joubert

While businesses have a wider choice of connectivity options than ever before, there is a connectivity trend that has remained constant over the years: the need for speed continues unabated.

Much of what business people do online today – e-mailing large attachments, online courses, video conferencing (or simply Skyping), downloading applications and services and virtually everything that falls within the broad ambit of cloud computing, would not be possible without fast, reliable, uncapped Internet connectivity.

Businesses consume more data than they did last year, and the year before that. It wasn’t too long ago that a 64Kb modem was the best available; now – for many businesses – anything less than a 4Mbit line would be unthinkable.

“With the demand for speed of connectivity increasing, a good rule of thumb, is for a business to purchase as much speed as it can afford – regardless of the type of connection used,” Joubert added.

In order to assist businesses to choose the best connectivity option for their needs, MWEB Business has compiled the following table with some of the more important pros and cons to bear in mind when considering how to connect to the Internet:

Connection type

Pros

Cons

Fibre
  • Exceptionally reliable
  • Scalable – easy to upgrade when more bandwidth/speed is required
  • The higher the speeds required, the more affordable it becomes
  • Fibre cable has no resale value and is therefore less likely to be stolen
  • Expensive – particularly for lower bandwidth requirements
  • Limited availability (although this is slowly improving)
ADSL
  • Affordable – excellent cost for performance
  • Bonded solutions enable even faster speedsGood latency
  • Copper cable is a valuable commodity so is often stolen
  • Poor quality of copper connectivity in some areas may affect performance
  • Asymmetrical – faster download than upload so poor for applications that require faster upload speeds
  • More complex to upgrade for additional speed than fibre
  • A best-effort service at network level
Wireless – 3G
  • Quick to deploy
  • Can be cost effective (depending on package)
  • Mobile (on-the-move Internet access)
  • Available in most metropolitan locations
  • Can be expensive
  • Performance/latency can be variable
  • Coverage may not be available
Wireless – Microwave (point to point; point to multipoint)
  • Quick to deploy
  • Can be cost effective
  • Must operate on a licensed spectrum in order for it to be more reliable
  • Interference can affect reliability
  • Reliable connections cost more
  • Coverage – not available everywhere (must have line-of-sight so physical structures can prevent its use)
Satellite – VSAT
  • Available everywhere
  • Quick to deploy
  • Can be cost effective (depending on package)
  • Latency can be a problem
  • Affected by weather conditions
Leased lines
  • Flexible bandwidth options
  • Reliable
  • Uninterrupted service, consistent line qualityFast and secure
  • Cable theft can be problematic in some areas
  • More expensive than ADSL

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