“It’s not our broadband that’s causing the problem, I’ve got fibre and I get 80 meg!”
This is a phrase that we, as an IT support company, hear regularly. The problem is, is that your 80 meg (or whatever speed you’ve been quoted) is only a small piece of the puzzle. You also need to consider the following:
In most cases, your upload speed is only a fraction of your download speed. To put that into numbers, if you have an 80mbps (aka 80 meg), your upload bandwidth is only likely to be between 5mbps and 20mbps. So why does that matter? It matters if you want to provide remote access to your IT systems for your team and it matters if you want a daily backup of your data to the cloud. This type of connection with a slower upload speed is referred to as “asynchronous”. If you want the same upload speed as download speed, you need a “synchronous” connection.
In simple terms, this is the measure of how long it takes a packet of data to leave your computer, reach its destination, and return back to your computer. Again, to put it into numbers, when testing against Google’s DNS servers you would expect something like:-
- Enterprise class leased line 1-10 milliseconds
- Business or Home ADSL / VDSL line 20-50 milliseconds
- Mobile phone internet 70-300 milliseconds
- Satellite broadband
If you’re looking at the BBC News, YouTube or Netflix then poor latency won’t really affect you too much. But, when it comes to real-time traffic such as voice and video calling and remote access it can make it unusable if the latency is too high.
When browsing the internet or using other applications that use the internet, millions of data packets are sent back and forth between the website or the cloud server. These packets, when traversing the public internet, don’t always take the same route as each other. They can take longer to arrive at their destination and are therefore received in a different order to which they were transmitted.
Again, this doesn’t affect such services as BBC News, YouTube, Netflix, but when it comes to real-time internet traffic such as voice and video calling and remote access it can give a really poor experience.
Whilst you may have been quoted a certain speed by your ISP, such as 80 meg, if everyone maxxed out their broadband, typically, you wouldn’t get anywhere near what has been quoted by your ISP because it is shared by all other users at a national level. The figure that is quoted by your ISP is a maximum under optimum conditions. If you need guaranteed bandwidth, you need to consider an enterprise class leased line.
Your choice of router has an important part to play with the performance of your internet, especially in a business environment. 2 specific areas where performance can be affected is:-
- If there are more than 10 users are on your network – the more users you have on the network, the more “NAT sessions” are created. It’s not unusual to see upwards of 100 x NAT sessions per user, and of course that means using extra processor resource.
- Encryption of traffic is typically used when you have users using an encrypted VPN tunnel to gain access to your systems from a remote location such as home. On some of the entry level routers out there, it can put an enormous strain on the resources of the router, and as such, it can be very unreliable for everyone involved.
The other end
You may have an enterprise class synchronous leased line, with low latency, and an enterprise class router, but if the connection at the other end is poor, there is very little you can do about that. Even websites and other cloud services experience performance issues too.
The physical copper line
Poor speeds or unreliable broadband can be indicative of a fault with the line. Whilst you may have brand new “fibre-broadband”, this is typically only fibre optic cables from the local Exchange to the green cabinets near your home. After that, it is traditional copper cabling from the green cabinets to your home.
Wired or WiFi
There is no doubt that a wire will always work better than wireless in any situation. It is more of a question of what suits your needs best for the task in hand.
If you’re experiencing a problem with your internet connection, it is one of the first suggestions any IT professional will ask you, “are you using WiFi or a network cable?”
If your computer is generally slow, it is highly likely that your experience on the internet will also be slow. Check with other users on the network to see what their experience is like.
Visit our Working from Home with DCS page on our website for more tips and advice