Why speed tests aren’t enough when choosing business connectivity

31 Mar 2019

It seems simple enough. If you’re a busy IT manager or business decision-maker, and you’re looking to choose a connectivity partner, just load up an online speed test or read a results article. Unfortunately, this approach is likely to set you up for disappointment or disaster. Choosing the right business connectivity package is a multifaceted process that’s about more than just speed.

Much like FTTH (Fibre to the Home), FTTB (Fibre to the Business) is a highly competitive market, and ISPs typically try to differentiate themselves on two points: price and speed. Regularly published speed test results and online DIY tools further stress the importance of the latter. However, focusing on a single “on the spot” speed test results in a one-dimensional assessment that doesn’t factor in the typical fluctuating connectivity requirements of a business, or its collective organisational experience.

Consider collective user experience

A once-off speed test lacks the nuance required to effectively match a connectivity solution to a business. The final decision needs to deliver a consistently premium experience for every system user, and that requires a look at the realities of an organisation’s throughput. In other words, you need to determine how much data is travelling over your bandwidth channel, from low to maximum – considering surges, lulls and the average rate. Strictly speaking, you must consider what your business is using the Internet for, and how that usage shifts and changes underdifferent circumstances.

For example, one employee alone in the office, transferring files early in the morning, won’t have to contend with the strain of video Skype meetings occurring simultaneously in several boardrooms, or the demands of the company’s VoIP system during a period of peak business. Usage not only shifts during the day but over longer periods as well. Month-end billings will ramp up connectivity demands from a finance department, and different industries will have increased seasonal workloads, such as an accounting firm during the SARS eFiling period.

At the same time, forethought is necessary. The uptake of cloud-based services (many of them business-critical), is escalating because of such benefits as greater performance efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Of course, accessing these applications – which can include everything from virtual servers to real-time multi-layered security – requires high-performance, reliableconnectivity. Any connectivity solution you choose today should seamlessly upscale tomorrow to accommodate cloud migration, whether selective or extensive.

Look at your specific industry requirements

Relying on a list of speed test results to choose your connectivity service also neglects specific sector requirements. Manufacturing has very different connectivity needs to the medical industry. As an example, in finance and banking, latency and security are key concerns, leaving these industry players no room for lacklustre line performance. They need guaranteed throughput and non-contention despite the heavy data transfer loads on their networks.

Choosing the right business connectivity package is a multifaceted process that’s about more than just speed.

Many companies do have a good idea of their overarching connectivity needs, so it becomes a question of matching them to ISP offerings. This said, even if you have an information gap, established business connectivity partners like SEACOM have the expertise, knowledge and product diversity to match a variety of customer requirements – whether small, medium-sized or largecorporates – to the right connectivity package.

When it goes wrong

One thing to never neglect in your considerations is support. Unlike people, IT systems don’t leave the office at the end of the workday, rest over weekends or take long smoke breaks. IT infrastructure operates on a 24/7 basis, yet many FTTH or FTTB providers limit support from 8am to 5pm on weekdays. Even when providers do offer 24/7 support desks, it is of vital importance tounderstand if they are truly enterprise-focused – able to resolve your company’s issue timeously, and not put your call in a queue after a Netflix query, gaming-related latency complaint or someone struggling to Skype their grandmother in Toronto.

When you need it, 24/7 business-centred support adds immense value beyond the promise of speed. Consider what is included in the connectivity contract presented to you. This sets premium providers like SEACOM apart and provides our customers with extra reassurance.

How to get it right

You still might be tempted by the convenience of consulting a table, listing the average upload and download speeds and latency on lines from different providers. This said, broken down into steps, finding the best connectivity match for your business in a suitably comprehensive way is not an onerous process.

Step 1: Settle on your allocated yearly budget.

Step 2: Determine your current connectivity needs based on application and business requirements, including a consideration of user experience.

Step 3: Reach an understanding of your business scalability needs in the long term to help ensure a futureproof solution.

Step 4: Identify any reliability concerns for the products and services you provide.

Step 5: Outline security concerns and the solutions available.

Step 6: Identify possible connectivity solutions that meet the performance requirement and benchmarking options – using price,expertise and reviews as appropriate qualifying factors.

Step 7: Narrow down your options to the top two, then consult with the appropriate solution architect or sales representative to confidently reach a final decision.

Step 8: Enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’ve done your due diligence.

Final advice

The average person likes to do things on their own. That kind of resourcefulness and self-sufficiency is empowering – yet deciding on business connectivity by using a single tool, or approaching it from a single perspective, is like using a medical website to self-diagnose an illness. In both situations, it’s best to consult with an expert to avoid headaches and stress in the long run.

With a special focus on, and proven high-quality provision of, business connectivity and solutions, SEACOM is the specialist you should consult for comprehensive, reliable connectivity to support and grow your business.