Choosing an appropriate Internet speed for your business can be more difficult than it seems. The pandemic and all the challenges that have come with it have only made this choice more difficult.
What Is Internet Speed?
Internet speed refers to how much data your business can download and upload each second. The common measurement for Internet speed is megabits per second, which is abbreviated Mbps. You may also see Gbps, which is gigabits per second: 1 Gbps = 1,000 Mbps.
If your business has a 25 Mbps Internet connection and the server you are connecting to supports 25 Mbps transfers, you cab download 25 Mbps. But if two people are using the connection at the same time, your speed is reduced to 12.5 Mbps. At four connections, it is further reduced to 6.25 Mbps.
What Is Broadband?
At one point, the term broadband simply meant high-speed internet. But the Federal Communications Commission needed a more precise way to quantify it. The FCC assigned a committee to study the problem, and it eventually settled on broadband being 25 Mbps download.
There will come a time when the FCC will need to reevaluate this benchmark. When broadband was defined, 25 Mbps was rather good and not that common. Since, the FCC has even recognized that broadband as defined likely is not good enough for the average household. It recommends 100 Mbps.
How Much Does a Business Need?
The average internet speed for American businesses is around 19 Mbps. That is less than broadband, and a speed that most experts would agree is too low.
For home use, it is generally recommended that you use broadband internet as a starting point. If you have one user in the household, 25 Mbps is good enough. If, on the other hand, you have three residents, you should target 75 Mbps.
Quantifying usage for an average business is trickier because each business is unique. You have to identify what your employees do online and how much speed that requires. Once you have a per-person speed, you can multiply it against the average number of people working at a time to get a value
Download vs. Upload
The FCC actually quantifies broadband as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Download is how fast you can receive data. Upload is how fast you can send it. Many people learned during the pandemic that their upload was not up to snuff for video conferencing. You will have to take this into account as well.
Types of Broadband Internet
The main types of broadband internet include fiber optic internet, cable, digital subscriber line and satellite. Which options you have available to your business will depend on where you are located. There are also business solutions available, such as T1 and T3, but these are generally cost-prohibitive for most small- to medium-sized businesses. Starlink will soon make broadband satellite internet a much more practical option for many businesses. Cellular and fixed wireless can be an option too, but many businesses prefer to reserve wireless for their backup internet service.
What About Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi can provide much greater flexibility to your employees. Depending on your business, you may also want to extend Wi-Fi to your customers. But it is important to note that Wi-Fi exposes you to more security vulnerabilities and will likely increase your Internet costs due to that.