BUSINESS TIME FOR GIGABIT
A GIGABIT BROADBAND PLAN IS NOW THE BEST OPTION FOR BUSINESS OWNERS, SAYS BILL BENNETT. HE WALKS YOU THROUGH WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT.
S ince October 2016 New Zealand’s Internet service providers have been offering gigabit fibre broadband plans. To use one, you need a connection to the government-supported Ultrafast Broadband fibre network which now covers roughly half the country. You might also need a faster fibre modem than the one you use now. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of signing up and paying the monthly subscription fee.
A gigabit connection is a very fast pipe to the Internet and data will come to you about 50 times faster than it can on the best copperbased connections. You can send data about 100 times faster.
A gigabit connection is so fast that there are few business applications that require all the bandwidth it offers. At least for now.
If you were a scientist searching for new sub-atomic particles you might think a 1Gbps broadband plan is a touch on the skimpy side. Likewise, if you worked for a major corporation and needed to crunch real time data from hundreds of thousands of customers in a ‘Big Data’ project a gigabit plan might not satisfy your needs.
On the other hand, if you ran a TV news programme taking live video feeds from all over the country and around the world, you’d probably get by fine on a gigabit connection.
Although few everyday business applications need an Internet connection running at one gigabit per second, a gigabit broadband plan is still a smart buy for business owners.
Spark’s head of business marketing, Richard Sandford, says the fastest broadband speeds are vital in industries where there is collaboration. He says you need them if you spend a lot of time uploading and downloading large files.
He believes this is particularly important for companies who service ‘glocal’ markets – that is, small companies who trade on the world stage. Many small, specialist service companies compete on a global scale. “If they don’t already, having unlimited broadband makes it easier for them to open up to the world. New Zealand is renowned for innovation, and communications is a gateway for that,’ says Sandford.
New Zealand has many small video production companies who
send material overseas. “They do filming and editing, then send huge files to their customers. This can take hours with slower connections; but with gigabit speeds they can do it in minutes,” he says.
Video conferencing is a useful tool when your clients are on the other side of the world. Sandford says there is nothing more frustrating than when you’re on a video conference to, say, New York and the connection suddenly freezes.
Gigabit broadband connections are most useful when coupled with an unlimited data plan. Get both in your Internet package and suddenly there are no constraints on what you can do online. There is no thinking you can’t do something with the Internet because the line is too busy. And no worrying if long video conferencing calls to customers across the world will see you go over your data allowance.
This matters, but it is even more important if you use a broadband connection to run your business from home.
Sandford says many business users, especially those working from home, are buying residential broadband plans. He says that business users are often looking for the consumer broadband experience as well as using it for work.
Prices for residential gigabit broadband plans with unlimited data start at around $125 a month from no-frills service providers and go up to around $150.
Spark’s broadband-only Fibre Max plan with unlimited data costs $140. Pay another $10 a month and you can have phone calling as well. Residential plans include Spark’s Wi-Fi hotspot network and email.
Spark’s consumer broadband plans also include the company’s Lightbox streaming TV service. This last feature hints at why gigabit residential plans make sense for anyone who does their business computing from home.
Sandford says streaming video is now an important part of broadband culture. Many homes have several devices capable of streaming digital video and they all share the same connection point.
Say you run your business from a busy, tech-crazy household. You might have a gamer pushing their Xbox to the limit in one room; two or three family members each watching different streaming television in other rooms. Each of those connections is using a lot of bandwidth, yet you can still juggle video team calls to colleagues while updating databases and noone misses a beat.
“There’s a clear move towards people blurring their business and non-work lives. With a gigabit connection you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Everyone gets a really good experience,” says Sandford.
One of the lesser known aspects of video streaming is that services automatically adjust to give you the best quality image. If you have a gigabit plan, everyone will see the best quality pictures all the time.
Gigabit plans are the fastest everyday broadband plans you can buy. Despite the name they are rarely a full one gigabit per second or 1000 Mbps. That’s because there are network overheads.
Sandford says Spark tested the technology and found actual speeds can vary. He says it depends on where you are and the routes to your online destination. In practice, you might see real speeds of 920 Mbps on a good day and should generally zoom along in the region of 700 to 900 Mbps on a fast fibre connection.
Don’t worry about this. You won’t notice the difference between 1000 Mbps and 700 Mbps in everyday use. And 700 Mbps is still more than enough for anyone. Even at the low end of the range your connection will be fast.
One of the most compelling reasons to choose a gigabit account has almost nothing to do with technology. It’s more about simple business management.
Sandford says almost every business wants to see cost certainty.
“They don’t want surprises or bill shock when use goes way over expectation or the plan limit. If you have a gigabit plan with unlimited data, then you know that you’ll get the same bill every month.”
The fastest broadband speeds are vital in industries where there is collaboration.” – Richard Sandford, head of business marketing, Spark.