Access to fast and reliable broadband is something that not everyone across the UK enjoys. Whilst average speeds in rural areas are increasing, largely thanks to the take up of faster services such as fibre, it’s thought that 3% of premises across the country don’t have basic broadband speeds of 2Mbps.
According to Ofcom, there’s also a disparity between the fastest and the slowest speeds available, “with some premises receiving just 0.1Mbps and others 350Mbps.”
Whilst the government aims to deliver fibre to 95% of UK premises by 2017, Ofcom describes this as an aggressive target and meanwhile, many consumers and businesses are still “under-served” thanks to the expense of installing fibre in areas where there is low take up.
This means, Ofcom said in a report, that,
“Small businesses also lose out compared with households when it comes to access to superfast broadband. And with average UK upload speeds of just 3Mbps, business applications such as video conferencing and large file sharing, can become difficult.”
So for those businesses that don’t yet have access to faster fibre connections, what can be done to bridge the gap until it becomes available?
Bonded broadband is one technology that could offer the solution.
What is Bonded Broadband?
Bonded broadband is fairly simple in its theoretical application and describes two or more ADSL lines being bonded together in order to create a larger, single pipe to enable faster download and upload speeds.
It’s not to be confused with ‘load balancing’ which is a means of routing requests through a network as they arrive in order to provide a faster service. Bonded broadband instead operates as just one pipe on which the data travelling is shared proportionately over each line. Bonded broadband enables available bandwidth across all lines to be used effectively to maximise performance and throughput, enabling businesses to benefit from the latest ‘cloud’ based applications.
Specialised broadband bonding routers provide the functionality required and between 2 and 12 lines can be bonded to provide ‘superfast’ leased line equivalent speeds.
What Size of Business is Bonded Broadband Suitable For?
Any size or type of business can benefit from bonded broadband. From small businesses with just a few employees that need access to a reliable and fast broadband connection, to larger enterprises that need to install on multiple sites. Bonded broadband can offer cost savings for any business by utilising low-cost and easily available ADSL lines.
Bandwidth depends on the number of lines that are bonded and can be added as necessary, both simply and cost-effectively.
Supported broadband lines include:
- Fibre broadband
- Leased lines
- Satellite broadband
Businesses can use existing lines to bond further lines from any ISP in order to create a high-speed connection. In order to provide improved resilience, businesses should also consider using more than one ISP to provide the bonded broadband. This ensures that should the ISP infrastructure suffer downtime, the bonded broadband connection remains unaffected. Downtime is costly for every business, at network and internet level, and as such using a bonded broadband connection mitigates a certain amount of downtime risk.
Whilst multiple ISPs can be used, bonded broadband services aggregate these in order to offer a single, high-speed, resilient and cost-effective service.
For businesses that currently use leased lines, bonded broadband can offer a less expensive alternative that’s often not tied in to a long-term contract in the same manner that leased lines are. This allows for a more profitable and agile business that has more power over both the cost and the contracted terms of its telecoms.
Does My Business Need Specialist Equipment?
To take advantage of bonded broadband your business will require a specialist provider. When it comes to equipment, your provider will discuss your options with you –you’ll need some new network equipment such as broadband bonding routers and pricing varies depending on throughput and number of bonded lines.
For smaller businesses, who perhaps just need 2-4 lines, it’s often possible to self-install once the lines have been enabled by the service provider. The vendor will provide pre-configured routers, which you will just have to plug in and go.
Larger organisations, which require WAN connections, will need to speak to their provider in order to understand the equipment necessary and effectively plan the project.
Isn’t Bonded Broadband Expensive?
Depending on the solution that your business requires, and the service provider that you choose, bonded broadband can offer cost savings. Further to this, the improved connectivity and in turn productivity can enable significant revenue savings. For businesses that currently rely on leased lines, the benefits are numerous and can include, as discussed earlier, an opportunity to free the business from an ongoing, expensive contract.
In terms of disaster recovery, bonded broadband also offers significantly improved uptime than generally found when using a single ADSL line and ISP.
Bonded broadband is a great alternative for fibre for businesses that don’t have it available in their area. Rural areas in the UK still struggle for connections that offer a decent speed in many places and as such, bonded broadband offers a means for enjoying a stable, fast and resilient broadband connection that otherwise couldn’t be achieved.
Companies who do have access to fibre broadband are able to bond multiple lines together. As well as providing a very high-speed, resilient connection, significant cost savings can be achieved when compared to a leased line.
Whilst the current government has stated that it will ensure that 95% of the UK will be able to access superfast broadband services during its term in power, this isn’t achievable for some areas of the country. In such areas, such as rural, hard-to-reach places, the government has said that it will use satellite broadband services to ensure that these areas have access to broadband. However, this is a very expensive solution that may be out of reach for many. Bonded broadband offers an alternative to this, which is stable and of a lower cost.