Is Netflix slowing down your business internet connection?
According to iiNet as much as 15% of their traffic could be attributed to Netflix streaming in the near future. However consumers and businesses are not so happy, tweeting of the impact of bandwidth hogging services like video streaming slowing down their Internet.
The scenario seems eerily similar to the spat last year when Internet backbone provider Level 3 accused Comcast and other ISPs of slowing Net speeds.
With the continual discussion of the NBN enhancing the way we do business in Australia, there are many misconceptions about what “faster” bandwidth actually is and other factors for consideration when evaluating a broadband service.
Broadband Internet: Consumer grade vs. Business grade
With the adoption of cloud services, the dependence on a consistent Internet connection is becoming critical for businesses of every size. Cloud accounting platforms like XERO and MYOB LiveAccounts rely on a consistent and reliable internet connection in order to work effectively.
Many businesses choose to save money by purchasing a consumer grade ADSL or NBN connection. At prices of around $100 per month, these seem a pretty cost-effective way for SME businesses to get a fast Internet connection.
The next step up to a business grade Internet connection costs considerably more, coming in around $500 per month. That’s a lot of money for what, at first glance, appears to be a similar service.
What does the extra $5000 per year get you? There are three important considerations: Contention, Service Levels and Security.
1. Contention: Why your shower suddenly goes cold.
There are a number of ways telco carriers can decrease their costs on consumer grade connections, the main way being contention.
Have you even been enjoying a shower and the water suddenly goes hot or cold? Elsewhere in the house a tap has been turned on and it affects your water flow. A similar scenario happens in your street when other households are downloading large files from the Internet; your connection also goes cold. This is what telcos refer to as contention, which is a ratio of the number of users sharing the same physical link to the network.
Although a carrier may offer you 100Mbps, they run it at a contention rate. They can do this as not everyone on a street will be using 100% of the bandwidth at all times, so they average out what they forecast the overall usage rate to be. This results in sharing of the overall street’s bandwidth and a slower connection at busy times.
A business grade Internet connection instead provides an un-contended link, a contention ratio of 1:1. This means no one else is sharing the link with you and your business can utilise 100% of the bandwidth.
2. Service Levels: What is your service guarantee?
Typically, the fine print of a consumer grade connectivity agreement will include disclaimers about being able to reach full download/upload speeds and what their service uptime is rated at.
For business grade, you pay more for increased levels of:
- Guaranteed download/upload speeds (E.g. 100 Mbps up/down uncontended) Guaranteed Uptime (E.g 99.99% uptime) Guaranteed redundancy (E.g. The ISP has multiple links to the internet in the event a cable is severed) Guaranteed issue response time (E.g. 24/7 phone support with 30 min response time)
Often there are financial penalties if a telco provider does not hit their service level guarantee.
3. Security: Hackers love bandwidth
With consumers demanding faster Internet and Australian carriers scampering to keep up pace, the infrastructure does not always grow in a secure fashion. Hackers prefer high bandwidth Internet connections to and from exploited devices as it enables them to complete their exploits faster and cause more damage.
The majority of consumer Internet connections do not come enabled with any security features or services. Most consumer grade wifi routers do come with a default firewall configuration, although often it is disabled or difficult to configure and update.
Business Critical Infrastructure
Mass Service Disruptions (MSDs in telco speak) such as the deluge of new Netflix traffic highlight the challenges faced by Australian telco networks. Organisations need to carefully consider the benefits of dedicated business grade Internet connectivity and it’s impact on mission critical systems relying on network intensive applications such as cloud apps and POS systems.