Friday, March 25, 2005

Cheap Business Continuity Insurance

What happens to your business when you can't do business? Disaster, right? You've built a business with personal investment, sweat equity, investor capital and lots of calendar time. Anytime that business is closed when it should be open, you lose sales and you may be losing something even more valuable; customers. Customers that normally come to you and now go elsewhere may never be back. If too many fail to return, YOU may not be able to come back.

There are a lot of risks out there that can put you temporarily or permanently out of business. One that you do have control of is your connectivity. Think about it. Just how are you doing business these days? Most companies, even primarily bricks and mortar operations, now have critical electronic umbilical cords for life support. You almost can't do business anymore without telephones and Internet service. Some companies also have private line services to tie their facilities together.

What happens when you lose your electronic lifelines? If you're selling hotdogs from a push cart, maybe this isn't a valid question. If you're a stockbroker, you're gone. If you sell online using your own servers in the next room, you're gone. If your point of sale terminals don't work, you might as well turn off the lights and go home.

Now, consider the economics of using an "expensive" T1 line versus a "cheap" DSL or Cable Modem line for your Internet connectivity. Many times you can get the same advertised bandwidth, 1.5 Mbps, with any of these services. DSL might be a minor expense of $50 to $150 a month. T1 can run as much as 10 times that amount, or even more. So why would a cost conscious business person pay a premium price for bits on a wire?

When everything is working perfectly, you might not be able to tell the difference. T1 dedicated Internet does have the same high speed for both upload and download and its bandwidth isn't shared with anyone else. So T1 does generally perform better than business DSL or any of the consumer grade Internet services. But that's not its most valuable property. It's the service guarantee that's key.

T1 lines come with something called an SLA or Service Level Agreement. This is part of the contract between you and the carrier that spells out how fast they'll respond to an outage in your service and how much they'll reimburse you when it fails. You typically get a credit on your bill depending on the duration of the outage, be it minutes or hours. Yes, you pay more to have this "insurance" policy, but it gives your provider a huge incentive to jump immediately on any problem you report and get it resolved quickly.

Contrast that with DSL or Cable modem Internet which are "best effort" services. With these services, the provider isn't tied to any guaranteed level of service. When the line goes out, they'll do what they can with the personnel available and eventually you'll get your service again. It might take hours, it might take days. When T1 goes down, it will typically get attention within 30 minutes, likely 4 hours at the most, even overnight.

So, what are the true costs versus the advertised prices of T1 service versus DSL? You can answer that yourself. What is a lost hour or lost day or two of Internet access worth? Will you fail to book $1,000 worth of business? $5,000? $10,000? If so, that DSL line that feeds your desktop computers and web server could wind up being MORE expensive after the first outage.

Your telephone service was never related to any of this until the advent of VoIP. Now if you lose the DSL service that carries your phones, computers and web server, you really are down for the count.

Only you can quantify the risk to your particular business of not going with professional grade connectivity, but there are some other options you should also consider. Integrated T1 service splits the T1 line between conventional phone lines and Internet access. You use this with a PBX system in place of individual phone lines. You might even save money by ditching the DSL and a dozen conventional phone lines, and replacing them with an Integrated T1 line that has 12 telephone channels and 768Kbps of Internet access. With that you get an SLA. Another option is to replace consumer type ADSL or business SDSL service with a fractional T1 line. You get a fraction of the bandwidth for a lower price, but it's got that important service level agreement.

T1 Rex has a dozen top tier competitive service providers with prices lower than you might expect for T1 dedicated Internet access, T1 Integrated voice and data service, fractional T1 lines, and T1 local and/or long distance telephone lines. We also have a team of experts that can help you choose the most cost effective service for your particular business situation. Get a competitive T1 price quote now.

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

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