The rapid expansion of the internet has vastly changed the way we do business. The average speed of broadband  is now 160 times faster than it was ten years ago, and with better speeds, tools and applications, so businesses are consuming massive amounts of bandwidth. For a business owner this may mean an exponential increase in the consumption of internet-based applications which may call for that switch to broadband.

To tackle some common issues faced by SMEs when it comes to broadband and getting the best out of the service, Shane Chorley, Head of Carrier and Connectivity at Vox answers some frequently asked questions.

Q: How do I determine what impacts my broadband performance?

A: To ensure that you get the best performance from your broadband, you have to understand what you need, what applications and tools your business will use, and importantly, how many people will be connected at any given point in time.

For many, the technology becomes overwhelming and time consuming when you have bottom-line objectives to meet. But it does take a big load off when you can at least identify the biggest consumers of bandwidth – increasingly video, and always having things like Facebook, twitter and other social media tools running in the background..

So from this base, the next step would be to identify what applications require video consumption, how users are consuming it and for what reason. This should give you an idea of on steps to take such as blocking usage or just getting a better understanding of what your costs are. It does help to enlist the services of someone with technical knowledge to guide you through the process, make and implement recommendations of taking control of data usage. This will require an understanding however of what internet-based tools are necessary for optimal performance for your business.

Q: How do I know which broadband options are best suited to my needs?

A: The reality is that internet consumption is only going to grow, you need to keep up with that demand. It’s important to note, that the bigger the pipe, the more data you will consume.  In other words, if you move from a 4Mbp/s line, to an 8Mbp/s line, you won’t necessarily change your usage, but you may consume more data, quicker.

Adaptive bit-rates on applications like YouTube, mean a better quality streaming experience, through the faster line speed, and a lot more data consumption.

Unless mission critical, we’d recommend blocking data heavy tools and applications, in the interest of an optimised experience.

Tools that assist your employees, improve the way you do business and create innovation in your business are important and you should choose a broadband solution that will sustain this traffic.

The good news is that the cost of internet is decreasing, the bad news is that consumption of internet based offerings is increasing at a higher rate. For this reason, We would advise going for a bigger data bundle that what you currently use, in anticipation for additional usage, brought about by upgrades line speeds.

Q: We recently upgraded to a faster line, and suddenly the business is going through much more data, yet we are not doing anything differently

A: Many people are not aware that consumption is not directly related to what you do, but the Over The Top (OTT) application services, which have become very data hungry. Applications using video such as Facebook and Youtube all use adaptive bitrate, which understands your throughput ability and optimises the video quality based on your line speed.

As your speed goes up, the applications consume more data to deliver richer content, so the faster your line is the more data it will consume. If you upgrade from a 10 meg line to a 100meg line for example, you will increase your throughput by 30% by doing nothing differently.

So when upgrading to a faster line, be aware of the data implications.

My advice – understand what you need to work efficiently. Is speed currently an issue? Are there applications that are not necessary in your business that you can block users from accessing?  Do you perhaps need to relook your programs or servers and adapt to say a cloud-based model? once this analysis is done, it will be far easier to identify a broadband offer that caters to your individual needs as a business.