FAQ small business Startup Technology work from home

What type of internet do you need to work from home?

We often get asked to help staff from our clients to setup a connection from their home to the office so they can work from home.  And in our recent article about what you need to work from home we briefly touched on needing an internet connection & router. 

The type of internet connection will vary depending upon several factors:

FactorDescription
LocationHow far you are from the main telephone Exchange and the number of other houses or businesses near you can dictate on the number of lines and the type of lines in your area. 
AvailabilityThe availability from different Internet Service Providers (ISP) in your area, not every ISP has equipment in the local area.  This is not normally an issue as most ISPs will be able to provide a connection via a wholesale agreement with BT Wholesale.
BandwidthThis is the speed of the connection which is measured in upload or download.  This may be limited by the cable type used to connect to you.  See USAGE below
Contention ratioThis is number of households or businesses using the connection at the Exchange.  It maybe 20:1 for business or 50:1 for households.  A 1:1 contention ratio would be a dedicated link and could be costly.
Service limitsMost ISPs set limits on usage for home or business use.  The package you have may have an unlimited download and a fair usage policy, which may mean that the ISP can throttle your connection.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)How quickly a line fault or connection issue will be resolved is determined by your SLA.
COSTEach service will have a monthly cost for a fixed length. Mobile tariff may have a usage limit or penalty for exceeding the limit.

Internet connection Usage

The internet connection will probably have multiple usage, these may include:

Home usageBusiness usage
Website surfing , Social mediaWebsite searching & Email
Remote Education  Remote working via VPN or RDP  
Online Gaming  Video conferencing  
Television – Catch up or Streaming services
(i.e Youtube, Sky+, iplayer, Netflix, Disney+ & Amazon)
Voice Over IP
 Data Backup  

Connection technologies

Over the development of the Internet, connectivity bandwidth has generally increased.  When the Internet was embraced in the late 1990’s, many users were connecting using dialup via a modem directly into their offices and made screeching, beeps and whistling when it connected, which hogged the phone line so you could not use the phone at the same time.   

56k dail-up Modem

The first ADSL standard was developed in 1998 with up to 8Mbit/s download and 1Mbit/s upload, since then telecoms and cable providers have improved the connection.  The technology allowed you to use the telephone line and the internet at the same time using an internet router, which no longer makes a noise when it connects and can be left connected.

Today we have Fibre (VDSL) in our homes which can provide speeds of up to 300Mbit/s download and 100Mbits/s upload.  The latest routers have wi-fi built in and act as first line of defence to prevent unwanted access from the internet.

Mbit/s – Megabit per second – this is a unit of data transfer rate which is commonly used to describe the connection speed.  It is often abbreviated or Mbps or Mb/s.  If you have a 1 Megabyte file being transferred over a 1Mbp/s 1:1 connection it would take approx. 7.63 seconds.   

Currently, in the UK the following connection technologies for homes are available:

  • ADSL
  • VDSL
  • CABLE
  • DSL/FTTP
  • Wireless
  • Mobile
  • Satellite

Often the ISP will sell their services with a minimum download speed or “up to xx Mbit/s” as they are unable to confirm if the cabling can support a speed until its installed.  As a result, lots of people realise that they are stuck with the provider for the contract term or must terminate early, find another provider, and end up with the same speed they had previously.

How to check what broadband Services are available:

There are several availability checker websites:

https://availability.samknows.com/broadband/ – This will show you how far you are away from your telephone Exchange and which ISPs have equipment there.  This information can be used to contact the company directly.

https://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/broadband/check-my-area

https://broadband.moneysavingexpert.com/

We are not affiliated with any of these services and not all give whole of market coverage.  It is worth researching via 2-3 companies’ sites to check availability.

Business or Home packages

Most providers will have business packages available that can offer an improved Service Level Agreement compared to home broadband services.  These may also include unlimited download which is useful if you are using the connection for both home and work usage.

Although these services may be more expensive, they can generally be billed to your business and will have a better contention ratio.  Most business connections will be 20:1 vs 50:1 for home broadband.

Draytek router

Most ISPs will include a broadband router which maybe suitable for home use, however for business we would recommend checking the firewall is enabled and the wi-fi is locked down. 

In our experience, if you have an issue with a business service connection, the ISP will have a dedicated business support team which will be able to resolve your issue quickly. 

Recommendations

We would recommend having the fastest connection available which is most stable and cost effective for your business.  Some providers provide a fibre broadband connection with a 4G mobile backup which can be used while the line is waiting to be installed or if the fibre is down.

This could mean that you have a dedicated broadband service for your work and separate connection for your home usage and or a 4G backup mobile connection.

It is worth comparing the Connections technologies which are available in your area as you may find a local Wireless Internet Service Provider has a better solution for you. 

For some businesses who want to ensure their staff connections are secure, you will need to replace the ISP router with a VPN enabled router which provides an encrypted link to the office network. 

As the internet usage increases, we expect that the connection bandwidth you need will also increase.  We are constantly looking at the latest technology to see if it will benefit our clients so are anticipating good things to come from 5G.

If you would like assistance with your connection or assistance working from home, please contact us on 0333 332 6600.

Connection Technology Names

StandardDownload Mbp/sUpload Mbp/sDescription
ADSL8.01.0Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, this enabled faster data transmission over copper telephone lines.
ADSL Lite1.50.5This allowed further range from the telephone exchange as it could provide greater resistance to noise on the lines.
ADSL212.03.5This extended the capability of basic ADSL but often capped at 8 Mbit/s download and 0.8 Mbit/s upload to improve stability.
ADSL2+24.03.3This extended the ADSL standard by doubling the frequency.  This was introduced in 2008 and 90% BT Openreach Exchanges were upgraded by 2013.
VDSL553Very high-speed Digital Subscriber Line.  This standard was developed in 2001 but was not deployed to BT Exchanges will 2012.  This technology uses fibre to cabinet (FTTC) combined with copper to the end premise.
VDSL2200100Although the standard can reach 200 Mbit/s download, typical speed is between 40 Mbit/s to 60 Mbit/s download.  BT Infinity now BT Superfast Fibre is an example broadband service with up to 76Mbit/s download.
CABLE100-1000100-1000Cable providers such as Virgin media or Gigaclear have their own fibre/coaxial cable network in some locations.  They often provide television services as well as telephone and broadband over the same connection.  Some providers will provide a equal download/upload or a slower upload speed depending upon your package.
FTTP on Demand100-1000100-1000Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) on demand provides high speed connections without the copper telephone cable.  A Fibre connection is provided direct from the local exchange.  This maybe suitable for blocks of flats or shared business units.
Wireless10-100010-1000Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP) use a Wireless-mess and fixed Point-to-Point wireless to deliver broadband to rural locations.  The service would require an external wireless antenna but can reach up to 20+ miles to the transmitter. 
Mobile 3G14.45.8With mobile phones usage increasing, mobile internet providers are constantly improving their networks.  3G from was released in 2001. 
Mobile 4G30075From 2006 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) began providing a real alternative to working without a fixed line. 
Mobile 5G20 Gbit/s10 Gbit/sFrom 2019 5G providers have began providing the successor to 4G and is expected to allow technologies such as Internet of Things including mapping technology for driverless cars and more importantly working from anywhere.
Satellite10-10001-50Satellite broadband has been around for a few years and is like the Wireless broadband in that it required some equipment to be installed with a satellite dish.   Download speeds are good but the upload and latency issues (i.e. the time to send a request via a satellite) can result in what feels like a slow connection.