This Industry Viewpoint was contributed by Michael Scott, General Manager, Wolfe
“Our company completely runs off the Internet.”
High speed connectivity has been a must-have for enterprises for quite some time. After all, growing bandwidth-intensive Internet traffic -- VoIP, video conferencing, sharing large files, social media, the Internet of Things, SaaS – all mean that organizations depend on having the necessary bandwidth capacity in order to function efficiently, day to day.
The same oft-heard observation increasingly holds true for today’s small and medium-sized businesses. Many of these companies, particularly those serving markets that require big bandwidth such as healthcare and hospitality, are now looking seriously at Gigabit Ethernet options, from 1 Gbps and beyond. Yet an important consideration for both an enterprise and a SMB is leveraging the benefits of fiber at an affordable price point.
Let’s take a look at several of the business challenges giving rise to the need for ultra-high speed connectivity.
Collaboration, Efficiencies and Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is one of the growing numbers of bandwidth-intensive applications that small, medium-sized and enterprise-level companies are implementing. Although the first benefit that typically comes to mind is savings associated with travel costs, an industry survey by Wainhouse Research and Polycom found that increased efficiency and productivity ranked slightly higher. Quicker decision making was another benefit cited. And with more of today’s employees working remotely, video conferencing is also a way to allow them work from home and still feel connected with their colleagues.
However appropriate bandwidth levels, especially with HD conferencing as an option, are required for optimal use from these bandwidth-intensive applications. For example, imagine taking part in a videoconferencing session with your organization’s senior level management team and midway through, participants begin to experience jitter and delay. Or, they are simply dropped and are forced to reconnect. What no one wants to happen is that those on the important call must downgrade to voice because the bandwidth level of the connectivity solution cannot adequately support the application. In that case, the entire meeting feels awkward. And if customers are involved, it may even leave them questioning a company’s professionalism.
High speed Internet connections are important amenities in industries such as hospitality as well. It’s a given that guests and customers in hotels and convention centers today expect to use high-definition streaming video on their laptop, tablet or smartphones and video chat from their hotel room or the business center.
Medical Digital Imaging
Digital imaging in healthcare is an area that promises tremendous advancements, if the appropriate high-bandwidth is available. For example, a digital radiography company that designs advanced imaging technologies for dentists was using an IP over copper solution that could only deliver 10 Mbps. Not only was the capacity insufficient, but the price the company was paying simply couldn’t justify the slow speed.
According to Ben Hackney, technical support manager at XDR Radiology, “There were issues with some of the copper pairs in the building that resulted in intermittent quality issues. With our heavy IP traffic, we wanted a more reliable alternative.”
XDR Radiology (www.XDRRadiology.com) is a Los Angeles-based company that designs advanced digital radiography software and hardware for dental practitioners. Instead of traditional X-ray photographic film, XDR’s sensors almost instantaneously develop high-quality digital X-ray images. To help dentists and staff transition from film to the new digital technology, the growing company provides comprehensive clinical support, from unlimited software upgrades, training, troubleshooting, re-installation to radiographic consultation. However, this level of support requires reliable and ultra-fast Internet services. For example, XDR Radiology frequently transfers large libraries of images, often downloading 1 gigabyte files. With a 10 Mbps connection, a file could take five hours to download.
“The Internet is the most important thing to our business,” said Hackney. The company implemented a customized, all-optical 1 gigabit Internet solution, delivered over dedicated fiber. As a result, a file that previously could take as long as up to five hours to download now takes under 30 minutes.
Customization is Key to Cost-effective Gigabit Connectivity
Both enterprises and SMBs are shifting more applications and services to the cloud and they depend on the Internet for business-critical operations, from daily email, VoIP and video conferencing to running a complex customer support center. However, whatever the size of an organization, ROI and price is always a prime consideration. A one-size-fits-all solution is not always the most cost effective when it comes to providing gigabit connectivity.
One approach is customization. The key is to conduct one-on-one meetings and extensive research to determine a company’s unique business requirements and provide a custom-designed and custom-provisioned network solution. It’s a proven methodology that can cost-effectively provide the speed and reliability of gigabit connectivity that’s becoming a necessity for today’s successful businesses.