It seems that for far too long, the broadband industry has been advertising ambiguous claims on realistic speeds a consumer can expect day to day.
After conducting numerous surveys, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) felt approximately 80% of consumers were confused by the current language used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
In response, the ACCC recently released a set of guiding principles to help ISPs clarify information provided to customers regarding broadband speeds. It’s expected these guidelines will help consumers gain access to greater information, which will lead to a better understanding for everyone.
But it makes you wonder, is this really a question of misinformation, or a mild case of misbelief on the part of the consumer? Without getting too technical, there are many factors that affect broadband speed – most of which don’t have anything to do with the provider, but sit in that grey area of misunderstanding for the average internet user.
Knowing the basics of your internet setup can help you understand what’s going on when your internet is down, or not keep up with you. Read on for a summary of how your internet works, and the different options available if you’re not happy with your current setup.
Fibre Cable, ADSL or WIFI – How is your internet connection wired?
In general, fibre cable ADSL and WIFI generate high speeds by today’s standards, and give businesses the opportunity to communicate, upload, download, stream and configure within the cloud environment with minimal disruption.
Dropouts have become so infrequent, that we tend to ask the question, “Is the website I’m viewing compromised? Their servers must be down”. It’s only after a moment or two that we think to check our internet connection.
ADSL and fibre cable (NBN in Australia) are hardwired, and connect from a node (data distribution point) to the building structure (alternatively, this can be a basement in taller buildings).
Fibre Cable: While boasting faster outright speeds regarding data transfer, fibre cable is only as efficient as the infrastructure within the building. The main disruption to consistent data speeds is user traffic. During peak times, congestion can cause fluctuations in maximum speeds. It shouldn’t really be much of an issue if the infrastructure is greater than demand.
ADSL: In Australia, ADSL uses the previously existing rolled out copper infrastructure. Speeds are slightly inferior compared to fibre, but are usually unaffected by peak times and congestion. Data transfer speeds are reduced the greater the distance between your location and where the node is located. The current condition of the wires and the load it can withstand with increased capacity is the main disruptor of this technology.
WIFI: WIFI, the emerging technology out of these three internet access methods, has faster download speeds than its hard-wired competitors. Cost and widespread availability are its main limitations. It is greatly affected by increased demand and established capacity. Usually used as a backup or alternative for hardwired connectivity, WIFI is a perfect solution for people on the go.
What options are available when your internet speeds are compromised?
The first time you notice there are problems with your data transfer speed is usually when you’re using an application, online account or utility that is running via the internet. Before you know it, all the information you have been generating or accessing is gone. Or is it?
There are many cloud-based programs and applications available that offer offline modes and capabilities. Some of the systems we use are listed below.
Google Suite: G Suite enables you to not only record information offline and sync after the internet connection is stable, but the application allows you to set items specifically for offline use.
Office 365: Mirroring its server based equivalents requires an internet connection to access the product initially, however has all of its major applications available offline.
POS platforms such as Vend, Cin7, Kounta and soon to be DEAR: This is extremely valuable when working in retail, which can sometimes be a 24hr business. The ability to work offline is a necessity, especially when making transactions. So if you are midway through a sale and the internet goes down, the data will not be lost. Information stored when offline is usually synced when the device connectivity is online again.
Collaborative tools like Slack and Skype: As expected, these apps don’t send messages through the ether without an internet connection. However they do store messages and notes offline and resend information immediately after reconnecting. Both these platforms have a number of settings that can be adapted to offline use.
One of the most popular alternatives to working in offline mode is to ‘hotspot’ via a mobile device like a phone or a tablet. Essentially your laptop or device isn’t offline anymore, but connected to the internet. As mentioned previously, one of the major constricting factors is cost for data using WIFI, so it wouldn’t be recommended to sync your entire library to a device at this particular time. Just use it for accessing your accounting, job management or inventory software.
As you can see, there are many options available. And while the ACCC is right to insist on accurate, comparable and useful information for consumers, if you know what you’re looking for, and the right questions to ask, you can arm yourself with the knowledge to choose the best internet option for where you live and what you do.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or say hi on Twitter @ocius_luke.