A lack of good broadband often hinders growth and companies’ ability to support new contracts and associated data exchanges. Real Business spoke to Farrpoint on how we could be on the brink of change.
(1) Please describe your company in your own words.
FarrPoint is an IT infrastructure and technology consultancy. We are completely independent from manufacturers and service providers so our sole focus is on delivering the best outcome for the clients. We provide a range of strategic and technical consultancy services to clients across the public and private sectors. Our core functions cover the delivery of strategies and high-level designs, specification and sourcing, delivery management and investment reviews. We specialise in enterprise technology, smart services, digital infrastructure, security design, governance and compliance.
(2) Where does broadband fit into your business?
Broadband is a key focus for us. We currently provide technical and commercial support to a number of local authorities and government agencies across the UK for their investment in extending the availability of broadband infrastructure to residents and SMEs. We are therefore very familiar with the market, technologies and commercials of delivering broadband in a range of geographies.
We also provide IT infrastructure advice to organisations that often rely on the availability of broadband circuits or, when not available, need to procure alternative connectivity from the market, often at a higher cost.
As an SME, we rely on connectivity ourselves for all our operations: internet access, email, telephony, data storage, cloud-based applications, etc. from the office, from home or on the move.
(3) Would you consider it to be vital?
Absolutely – connectivity is vital to all companies whatever their size to allow employees to remain in contact and perform their job wherever they are. SMEs in particular tend to rely heavily on cloud-based applications and services rather than incurring the capital costs from hosting their own tools, relying even more on connectivity. Broadband plays a vital role in supporting these connectivity needs at affordable prices.
(4) What difficulties have you seen companies face with it?
Availability of acceptable connectivity is a key issue for businesses. SMEs in particular, are less likely to be able to afford tailored leased line connectivity in places where good broadband circuits are not available. The lack of good broadband often hinders growth and companies’ ability to support scaling up of staff base, new contracts and associated data exchanges.
(5) Has the speed of it let them down?
The speed/capacity of broadband circuits is a key issue for both downloading and uploading with the latter being critical to software and applications, in particular cloud storage/backup, to be used effectively. The lower the capacity the less responsive the connectivity becomes when users and/or services are added. It is therefore essential for businesses to have access to decent broadband speeds and to know the service they will get when deciding on their location. Businesses can face serious disappointments when “up-to” broadband speeds are not achievable in their offices due to the underlying broadband infrastructure.
Compared to residential broadband, business broadband packages tend to cost more but offer a number of advantages and in particular, lower contention. This means they are configured to experience less competition for bandwidth further into the network, guaranteeing the business more bandwidth under heavy load of the overall network by other users. This results in more capacity for businesses than a residential broadband package, but may still not be enough to fulfill their requirements.
(6) How do you feel the service could be improved?
Delivery timescales are critical to provide the responsiveness that companies require. A good service for ordering new lines and fixing faults, committed through Service Level Agreements (SLA), is very important. This will reduce uncertainty and allow businesses to focus their attention on running their business instead of wasting time chasing updates and service activation.
Once the service is up and running, speed is not the only critical parameter. Latency and jitter must be low to provide the interactivity required by some applications and services (telephony, video conferencing, etc.) that can be a key issue of satellite links.
(7) What do you feel about the state of UK broadband?
Overall availability of Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband in the UK is pervasive with over 90 per cent of premises eligible to date, with this number growing. Openreach is the main infrastructure operator throughout the UK and even though it is rolling out future-proof ‘Fibre to the Premise’ to clusters of addresses, most are not future proofed.