Our 24/7 connected lives offer some real advantages for consumers and both sales opportunity & productivity improvements for business. Technology is a thing of beauty… until it isn’t. When your broadband line goes down, you are really, really isolated. Is there anything that can insure you against such a disaster?
Indeed, there is. Consumers have the option of using their 3G or 4G wireless service as a backup for DSL and Cable. The latest smartphones let you set them up as wireless hotspots. Just network your PC, laptop, notebook , tablet and printer to the smartphone and you can carry on. The connection speed may not be as fast as you are used to and you have to be very careful not to exceed your monthly quota. Even so, in a pinch, you can continue to use the Internet when the landlines go down.
Another emergency option is to plunk yourself down in a Wi-Fi hotspot and connect through OPB (Other People’s Broadband). Worst case, you’ll have to buy some lunch or coffee to stay a welcome guest. Other hotspots are in stores or at public libraries where you aren’t expected to actually buy something… at least not right away.
One glitch in this approach is that the same disaster that took your line service down may have also affected the WiFi hotspots in your area. I had this happen when some overzealous backhoe operator chopped the fiber trunk cable in half. It took a couple of days to get 100 plus fiber strands spliced back together. My preferred hotspot and others in the area had been hit by the same outage. I wound up going across town to find a place that still had signal.
While these extraordinary measures can save the day for consumers and some very small businesses, clearly camping out at free WiFi hotspots or glomming onto your smartphone’s diminutive bandwidth budget isn’t going to work for the majority of small office & retail or larger business operations. If your company depends on Internet connectivity to conduct business, a broken connection means you are temporarily out of business.
Fear not. There are solutions for every size company that can keep you connected worldwide no matter what. The Internet itself is amazingly robust. It was designed to handle all types of natural and man-made disasters and still get those packets from source to destination. The weak link is the last mile connection. The reason for this discrepancy is that the Internet core has path redundancies designed in. Any last mile connection is a single point failure just waiting to happen.
This suggests that the way to create a more robust broadband connection is to add redundancy. A popular way to do this has been to has been to order multiple diverse connections to the Internet. For instance, a company might order two T1 lines and specify that they must come from different suppliers and not in the same wiring bundle. You can scale this up to higher bandwidth options, including fiber optic services. The key is that you must be sure that there isn’t a line cut or equipment failure that can take out both your services at once.
There is also a business grade 3G/4G wireless solution from Accel Networks that works well for smaller companies. This is a fixed location receiver with a high performance antenna to ensure a high quality signal at your location. You can order it with enough capacity to handle things like Point of Sale terminals, inventory management, and general Internet access.
A highly desirable feature of redundant network solution is automatic failover. The Accel network continuity solution has this feature. Your users may not even know that the main network connection failed. Work continues using the backup link, perhaps at a smaller bandwidth level.
For landline solutions, MegaPath is offering a “Managed Broadband Failover” solution. They install and monitor CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) that handles the switchover between main and backup links. One really nice feature of this service is that the monitoring notes the main line failure and initiates troubleshooting and repair activities to get you back on the main circuit as soon as possible.
Are you concerned that your business is vulnerable to a loss of connectivity with the Internet, your data center across town, or your cloud service providers? Check out broadband network continuity services that can insure you keep running.