Have a Less Than Ideal Internet Service? Blame Your Kids (Sort of)

Stick with me on this.

I recently had an ‘a-ha’ moment when one of my daughters returned home from school—complete with two laundry bags full of clothes and an appetite to match. Unfortunately, that ‘a-ha’ moment occurred thirty-seconds into a nice warm shower when things changed drastically. The water temperature decreased from warm to borderline cold and the pressure dropped by half. My five-minute respite turned into a 45 second rinse and run.

Five minutes later, dried and dressed, I arrive downstairs to discover one daughter in the downstairs shower, one over-loaded washing machine chugging away and the other daughter running the half-empty dishwasher. No wonder my experience was less than ideal.

And that’s when it hit me.

This situation is no different than the hundreds our Enterprise Sales team has come across over the past year, with potential clients. The only difference—internet bandwidth instead of water.

The Fibre Internet Fallacy

Many companies in our serving territories rely on an Internet product marketed as fibre, with all its implied benefits – think Bell Fibe, Rogers Ignite, Shaw Fibre+ and Sasktel’s Infinet. Unfortunately, it’s a fibre product in name only. Those big Telecom Carriers are utilizing a technology called GPON or Gigabit Passive Optical Networking to provide those Internet connections. Those Carriers may have brought a fibre optic line into your business, however, the GPON service delivered over that media-type is not providing you the same benefits as a dedicated, point-to-point fibre connection – the only type, by the way, that FlexNetworks provides.

Instead, they’re providing a shared, ‘point to multi-point connection’that is feeding an internet signal to your business park split between you and your neighbors, pooling bandwidth amongst yourselves.

Before I get into the pros and cons of this type of service and the impact it may have one your business, let me use my shower experience as an analogy to simply describe the negative user experience a GPON service might be offering you.

Think of your home as the business park your Company resides in, with each floor of the house representing a neighbouring business. The neighborhood water main feeds the house a certain amount of water based on the size of the pipe. In the house you have the following:

  • In the Basement, Company A has the washing machine and a small three-piece bathroom.
  • The Main floor, Company B has the dishwasher and a small two-piece.
  • And on the Upper floor, your company, has the nice, full-sized ensuite.

Picture this: You’re home alone having a shower with full pressure and optimal warmth. Exactly what we all want. Now, instead of being home alone, Company B shows up and starts washing last night’s supper dishes in the dishwasher. You notice a slight dip in water pressure, and you might have to adjust the heat slightly. Not disruptive but mildly irritating. But then Company C arrives ‘at the office’ and throws all their dirty uniforms in the washing machine. Your water pressure plummets, and your mild irritation turns to white-hot rage. Your user experience (and your neighbours, for that matter) becomes impacted.

This is what having a GPON (shared/pooled) fibre connection can be like; just substitute Internet bandwidth for water.

Why do Carriers offer GPON Service?

  • It offers fast speeds at a cheaper price point.
  • It is less expensive to install (and maintain).
  • It can be more widely distributed.

What limitations does it have?

  • It’s a passive connection (hence the name), meaning no control over bandwidth allocation between end-users.
  • It’s not symmetrical, upload is typically much lower than download.
  • No QoS or CoS.
  • Limited SLA – outages could last for days.
  • Less stable – bandwidth availability can fluctuate depending on time of day.

Why should you care about this?

Maybe you shouldn’t. If none of these potential issues are impactful to your standard operating environment, then a shared service like GPON is likely the right service for you. However, if you have remote users accessing files, cloud-based applications like payroll or inventory control, virtual zoom sales meetings with clients and can’t live with an outage longer than a few minutes its probably not the right service for you.

Justifying the increase in OpEx in moving from a shared GPON service to a dedicated fibre connection can be measured simply. Depending on the number of users in your environment, it might be no more than $1 per day per person. I’m sure every company can find $1 of daily productivity gains – that’s one more order processed, one more quote produced, one more order filled, one more account receivable file closed.

When you’re ready to have that conversation, send us a note at enterprise@flexnetworks.ca.

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