If slow broadband is hurting your bottom line then it’s worth investigating the National Broadband Network alternatives that might already be available in your area.
It’s been a long time coming but Australia’s national broadband rollout promises to eventually reach every corner of the country. Once it arrives in your street you’ll enjoy download speeds of somewhere between 25 and 100 Mbps, depending on which NBN broadband technologies are deployed in your area. But that’s little consolation if your business is hurting now and your suburb or town isn’t even included in the latest NBN rollout plan.
If you’re a large business then you might be able to afford to pay for your own dedicated high-speed fibre, DSL, microwave or satellite link rather than waiting for the NBN. If you’re a small business that can’t justify the expense of a dedicated link then you’re probably stuck on ADSL running over the copper phone lines.
Relying on ADSL means you’re at the mercy of your distance from the telephone exchange and the quality of your copper phone line—some lines have fallen into disrepair but at this point Telstra is reluctant to repair a flaky phone line unless you’re actually having trouble making voice calls.
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A few broadband providers have popped up to cash in on the slow NBN rollout by tapping into the pent up demand for decent yet affordable high-speed internet access. Your options include fibre rollouts like DGTek, wireless providers like VividWireless and microwave services like Lightning Broadband. Some are only cherry picking the most lucrative neighbourhoods, so it’s hard to say if or when these NBN competitors will reach your area.
For now the easiest alternative to ADSL is to access the internet via the mobile phone networks from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. LTE 4G mobile broadband is often faster than ADSL, for both downloads and uploads, but the trade-off is that it can be a lot more expensive so you need to use it sparingly.
You can access mobile broadband via a USB dongle, a battery-powered mobile hotspot or by generating a Wi-Fi hotspot using your smartphone. Some telcos also offer ‘Wireless Broadband’, which uses the mobile networks but relies on installing a new modem in your office. This can work out cheaper than mobile broadband, although you may be capped at slower speeds than you can get through other mobile devices.
If slow broadband is costing your business in terms of lost customers or productivity then it might not be hard to build a case for switching across to wireless/mobile broadband—although it can be more susceptible to network congestion during peak times. You’ll also find a range of fixed wireless providers aimed at businesses, which focus more on reliability than speed.
In terms of price and performance you might find it more practical to rely on a mix of ADSL and wireless/mobile broadband, jumping between them depending on the task at hand; you’ll need to weigh up your needs and decide on the best tool for the job.
The NBN will reach your office eventually, but if you can’t wait then it’s worth investigating other ways your business might satisfy its need for speed.
Anthony Hill is the Head of Technology at Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and tech support company.