Do you know your business’ internet speed? Is your connection speed able to serve your workforce (which may be distributed across multiple locations) and all your applications? Is it agile enough to handle your traffic fluctuations?
If your answer to any of those questions is “I’m not sure,” it’s time to kickstart a process to make sure your internet speed meets all your business needs. Whether it be quarterly, yearly, monthly, or even daily, it’s important to have your IT team monitor your internet speed.
But first, what even is internet speed? How is it measured?
The measure of the time it takes for data to transfer from a source (like your device) to the designated server and back is your network/internet speed. The unit of measure depends on the type of connection – for broadband connections (the most common type businesses use), the speed is usually measured by:
- Megabits per second (Mbps)
- Gigabytes per second (Gbps)
- Terabytes per second (Tbps)
There are many tools you can utilize to determine the speed your internet connection has, like Speedtest.net. When testing the speed, there are two things to keep in mind:
- If you have a shared internet connection, you will see different speeds depending on the time of day. When more subscribers are using the internet, you are sharing bandwidth. It’s important to make sure the speeds you’re getting at least meet the minimum promised by your provider during those peak times.
- If on the other hand you have a dedicated internet connection, you should expect to see the same internet speed you pay for, 24/7, no matter the time of day.
Speed and bandwidth: what your business needs to understand
Not all businesses need high bandwidth and high speed internet. Your business might need high speed, but maybe not high bandwidth. While it is easy to get the two confused, as they are related, bandwidth is different from speed.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred from the source to a destination in a given amount of time. For some businesses — like a hospital — more bandwidth is needed to be able to transfer heavy amounts of data (think scans or other medical machinery). Other businesses, like a factory, also need to transmit heavy data flows to keep robotics and artificial intelligence-based technology working.
On the flip side, a simple Google search requires very little bandwidth, as it takes much less data being sent from your device to the search engine server.
Knowing your business needs and goals are important when selecting internet plans to ensure you have the appropriate bandwidth and speed to accomplish business activities successfully.
What about download and upload speeds? Does your business need them to be symmetrical?
Upload speed is the time it takes for data to go from your device to the internet. Download speed is the time it takes for your device to receive data from the internet. If the upload and download speeds are the same, you’ll have symmetrical speeds.
Symmetrical upload and download speeds reduce latency (or lag). Having low latency is especially important for things like videoconferencing and Internet of Things. If you were to have asymmetrical speeds during a video meeting, it would be difficult to have a conversation in real-time. For IoT devices, your data may not sync instantly and a sensor might not be able to communicate quickly enough.
How can you ensure you have the best internet speed for your business?
The first step in deciding the right internet speed is to evaluate how your customers, employees, partners, suppliers, and any other stakeholders interact with your business. What types of data is being exchanged? How fast does the interaction need to happen?
You also need to evaluate:
- If your speed fluctuates throughout the day, will your business be impacted? If you are a stock trading company, a slow connection at any point could be devastating.
- Does each of your business locations have the same function? Do they have different needs? A home office may have different needs than a manufacturing facility.
Answering these questions can help you decide between different connection solutions, like:
- Business fiber
- Wireless broadband