Redundancy is a word many businesses would prefer to avoid, except for those businesses where redundancy means the inclusion of components to safeguard against the failure of vital equipment/services.
For example, radio stations build in redundancy at every level of their business that involves broadcasting their content: back-up microphones in studios; back-up studios; back-up transmission links; back-up power. Having these back-ups in place ensures the station can stay on air when some technology fails.
If your business relies on access to the internet, Nolan Braterman of Frontier Voice and Data argues that you should have a redundancy plan, to ensure your business doesn’t suffer when there is a broadband outage.
Broadband connectivity is vital for most businesses
Broadband connectivity has become important to businesses of all types and sizes. Shops and cafés need the internet for card payments. Basic access to emails and web browsing is vital to many companies and organisations.
Some businesses rely on internet connectivity to support their telephone systems. And then there are cloud-based applications and disaster recovery solutions that keep larger organsations ticking.
Here’s a (not so) fun fact: almost 80% of UK businesses experienced a broadband outage last year. 80%. That means the next time you’re at a networking event, it’s likely eight out every ten people you talk to will have had lost access to the internet in the previous twelve months.
Another fun-free fact is, the average waiting time for service to resume is six hours.
Of course, in many companies there is non-internet related work that can be carried out during an internet outage.
However, a recent survey revealed that among the businesses to lose access to the internet last year, just 25% were able to mitigate their down-time by doing tasks that did not require internet usage – there’s only so much stationery stocktaking needs to be done.
Companies with widely dispersed departments in a variety of locations can be particularly badly hit if their staff cannot contact each other.
The cost of lost broadband connectivity
So, loss of internet connectivity can cost. The average annual loss varies from business to business, but here’s a good rule of thumb:
- Solo (1 person) – £41
- Micro (2-9 people) – £527
- Small 10-49 people) – £3 ,950
- Medium (50 – 249) – £15,670
- Large (250+ people) – £497,433
Over a year, loss of broadband costs the UK economy £7 billion. What would £7 billion fund? Each of these costs £1 billion:
- 167,000 hip replacements
- 2 flagship hospitals
- 26,000 nurses (for a year)
- 27,000 primary school teachers (for a year)
- 22,000 secondary school teachers (for a year)
- 16,600 new social homes
- 3 million people’s disability living allowance (for a year)
Your options when broadband access is lost
If your internet fails, what can you do?
Heading to the local coffee shop with a laptop is one option. Tethering phone data to give your laptop internet access is another quick fix.
But free WiFi is generally not that great, not everyone has unlimited 4G as part of their mobile contract, noisy coffee shops don’t make great working environments, and all those coffees you’d need to buy to avoid grump glares from the staff won’t be good for your health or your pocket. You need a better solution.
And that’s where redundancy comes in. Get a second internet connection. If your main service provider drops out, your secondary connection can take over.
Broadband redundancy plan
You may query whether this is a worthwhile expense, but it could save you a lot of unnecessary stress, wasted time and money. In 2016, the cost of an outage to a business was on average £1,287. The general starting price for a second connection starts from £12.95pcm for a micro business.
Internet back-up solutions vary, and what’s best for you will depend on the size of your business.
For example, a 4G router or MiFi device will connect you to the 4G network, allowing you to carry out small tasks such as taking PDQ payments and sending emails.
The cost of this type of device is around £130. But if your business sees a significant amount of the workload requiring internet connection, a second ADSL line would be a more reliable option.
Remember, this second line should provide a broadband connection from a different source (ie provided by a different supplier from your main broadband supplier).
Reducing internet outages
Regardless of how you decide to mitigate the impacts of a loss of broadband connectivity, whether it’s a second line or a coffee shop loyalty card, there are a number of ways to help reduce instances of internet outages:
- Check that all your routers have been configured properly
- Check that your internet connectivity is suitable for your business purposes (a common mistake is opting for a cheaper residential connection)
- Carry out regular checks and audits to ensure all IT and telecommunication systems are able to deal with the demands of your business and are protected against outages and cyber-attacks
- Regularly review the market to see if there’s anything available that your business could benefit from, keeping an eye out for new features that can make working life easier and more protected
However, bear in mind that the causes of internet outages are mostly out of your control, indeed often out of the control of the broadband providers.
Adding a second low-cost connection means you can be confident that your business will carry on as normal.
And remember that a customer unable to contact you or use your services won’t necessarily be understanding. The chances are they’ll simply blame you. And you don’t want them considering you to be redundant.
About the Author
This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Nolan Braterman of Frontier Voice and Data. FVD is an independent communications supplier and carries a comprehensive, business grade suite of products to suit any type or size of company.
More on technology
- Telecoms contracts – What every start-up and small business needs to know
- How to choose the right cloud phone system for your business
- Telecoms mistakes to avoid when starting a business in 2017
- 10 tips to help you choose the right telecoms package for a start-up
- Buying a new phone system for your small business? Watch out for the ‘free phones’ scam
- Getting your IT right as your startup grows
- 5 Top small business tools that will save you time, hassle and money
- A Beginner’s guide to cloud computing for small and start-up businesses
- How to master your inbox in five simple steps
- Working from anywhere: live anywhere in the world, do business in the UK