5 things small business owners should know about bandwidth

In the year 2000, some 40% of Canadians used the Internet, according to the United Nations. By the end of that decade, that number ballooned to 75%. It's difficult to imagine many companies that could operate successfully without at least some online capabilities. Smart firms, both large and small, are using online technologies, such as Google Docs, VoIP, and anytime web conferencing to their best advantage, allowing employees to work from anywhere and making it easier to connect with customers in a meaningful way. In the U.S., the audio and web conferencing market, for instance, was US$1.5 billion in 2009, and it is expected that by 2014 that market will grow to US$2.7 billion.

You may have noticed that your network speeds have decreased over time as your business increasingly adopts these new applications. Not only can the reductions be frustrating, but they can sap productivity levels, too. This is where the need for increased bandwidth comes in. Bandwidth refers to the volume of information per unit of time (ie. bits per second, or bps) that a transmission medium (like an Internet connection) can handle. It has been likened to a "data highway". The wider the highway - or wider the bandwidth - the more cars - or data - can travel on it at the same time. The narrower the highway, the fewer the cars can get to their destination quickly.

If your business computers are using the Internet continuously, and accessing it to run big applications, then you probably need to look at adding bandwidth. Here are some tips to get faster connections while keeping costs down:

  • Understand your bandwidth needs. There are numerous bandwidth calculators available online, but the easiest and most effective way to determine the appropriate amount of bandwidth for your company is to ask an expert (like those at Primus Business Services) to survey your network needs. Remember, having more bandwidth than you need does not increase productivity and is just pouring money down the drain, so it's advisable to know your true requirements.
  • Monitor your bandwidth. This will help you determine if there are spikes in activity at certain times of the day, so that you find out the cause of those spikes as well as a possible solution. If you don't have in-house IT staff, consider consulting an expert.
  • Survey long term usage patterns. Tracking your network activity over long periods of time can help you not only determine what your normal usage is, but can also let you see when usage spikes are out of the ordinary. Most importantly, monitoring over the long term will help you plan your future bandwidth needs. An IT expert can easily set this up for you.
  • Examine your employee culture. Are your employees using office computers to download personal material like movies, pictures and music on USB devices? It's understandable if they are, because they likely don't have the bandwidth capacity in their homes that is available to them at work. You may want to provide this as a perk to your staff, but realize that it's costing you money.

  • Check out Primus BEX - Business Ethernet Xtended. This service delivers high bandwidth at affordable rates to companies of all sizes. What's more:
    • BEX is scalable to meet your growing needs. You can increase bandwidth quickly and improve the performance of online business applications.
    • BEX offers the ultimate connectivity and bandwidth for multimedia applications. Your bandwidth is not shared, so your traffic is congestion-free. This enables you to work faster with your customers without the hassles of lost connectivity.
    • BEX utilizes your existing phone infrastructure, making it ultra reliable. Upload and download high-bandwidth data up to 20 Mbps over a reliable dedicated line.