Saturday, September 10, 2005

Retail and Restaurant Point of Sale Systems Bandwidth

Retail and restaurant point of sales systems capabilities have grown exponentially since the days of mechanical cash registers and cash boxes. Even the electronic cash register has often been a self-contained system until recently. Now systems are integrated to support inventory control and accounting. They are also networked, both within the organization and to the home office, credit card companies, suppliers and partners. Communications is critical and low cost bandwidth is the key to electronic communications.

The simplest application of an electronic data exchange is a credit card transaction using a terminal that creates a dial-up data connection over a phone line. Phone lines can also be used to download daily sales results to the home office. On the small scale level, a dedicated or shared voice line is about as cheap as you can get.

But what if you have a lot of data to transfer, many simultaneous credit card transactions, or want to stay constantly in touch with multiple sites. For that you need dedicated bandwidth. In other words, a reliable always-on digital connection. This can be a private point to point line, a secure Frame Relay connection or a VPN or Virtual Private Network running on the Internet.

The low end of dedicated lines is the business DSL line. This is a broadband Internet connection that uses a regular copper phone line. By definition, the Internet is a shared resource. To protect your data, you'll need to be running encryption software which creates a virtual private network. In other words, your data is secure even though the network is shared. The big advantage of using the Internet instead of other solutions is that you have access to a worldwide network that can connect just about anybody to anybody else. It's already in place and the cost is amortized over millions of users, so your access cost is pretty low. Sometimes under $100 a month.

The weaknesses of DSL have always been availability at particular locations and reliability of service. DSL is a technology that uses telephone circuits that were never designed for high speed digital use. Consequently, it is a short range service. You may find that the store across the street can get DSL but your location can't. The other issue is that DSL, even business grade DSL, doesn't generally come with a service guarantee. The carriers make their best effort to keep it operational, but outages can and do occur.

If it is absolutely vital that your broadband connection be available all the time and get top priority if there ever is an outage, then what you want is T1 line service. T1 was originally designed by the telephone industry for its own use. T1 connections can be installed most anywhere you can run phone lines and come with a service level agreement. A T1 line is highly reliable and can be configured as a private point to point line or a dedicated Internet connection. Multiple T1 lines can be bonded together to give you 2 to 6 times the capacity as your business grows.

Another option is Frame Relay. Frame Relay is a private network that connects locations to each other with a guaranteed bandwidth. Unlike the Internet, a Frame Relay network is managed to limit the number of customers to no more than the service can support. Since it is a shared network, you may wish to run your own VPN software to encrypt your data for the highest level of security.

If you have retail or restaurant point of sale systems, or other inventory control systems that need high speed digital bandwidth, let us help you find the most cost effective solution that meets your requirements. We have expert consultants available 24/7 who are happy to discuss DSL, T1 and Frame Relay options for your business. Go ahead and put in a quote request at T1 Rex anytime and a consultant will call you back at your convenience.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter