The Internet and E-mail have changed the way businesses work over
the past few years. Many small businesses wouldn't exist without
these technologies and many traditional businesses operate very
differently since adopting them. Broadband will revolutionise the
way the Internet and E-mail are utilised by merging them fully into
the business IT systems. There is no going online anymore - you
are just permanently online.
Broadband is a generic term used to describe a range of technologies
that allow users to access the Internet at much higher speeds than
through conventional dial-up or ISDN connections. The most commonly
known broadband technology is ADSL, which is provided by an Internet
Service Provider (ISP) over a standard BT telephone line. The technology
for ADSL is such that you can receive calls on the phone line and
still have a connection to the Internet without each interfering
with each other.
The benefit that Broadband brings will be different for each business
type and we have two very different case studies outlined below.
However all businesses will benefit from having faster, more efficient
communication, enabling increased productivity at a fixed monthly
There are a number of possible risks associated with moving to
broadband that the small business manager also needs to consider.
ADSL is an always-on technology - this means that as long as your
IT system is on and running you are probably always connected to
the Internet. You should therefore consider securing your connection
to the outside world using a "firewall" and a box called a "router"
that allows you to connect ADSL securely to your computers and are
a critical part of the ADSL connection. Most ISP's do not provide
a firewall or router as a matter of course.
If you are outside an ADSL enabled area there are other solutions
possible such as Satellite or wireless broadband but these tend
to be a more expensive option than ADSL.
Case Study One
Tigers have seen real benefits of installing broadband since
they started to work with UK Online for Business in February 2003.
They had been using the Internet for e-mail and research since 1998
through BT dial up. Initially dial up access was adequate for basic
e-mail and web use however as they started to use e-mail for sending
pictures to the printers for programs the restrictions of low speed
temporary Internet access became a real problem.
David Smart the commercial manager said "Its amazing I used to
spend most of Friday sending the images out to the printer of our
programs. It would take an average of three attempts to send each
picture because of the dial up connection failing and having to
reconnect. Now with the new system I can send all the pictures in
one go in less than half an hour which means I can get much more
done on a Friday".
This highlights two of the major benefits of broadband its high
speed and reliable always on connection.
Case Study Two
The other big advantage to being always connected is the reduced
cost of Internet access. Business dial up access is usually charged
at local rate phone call. This can be a low cost for an individual
user who doesn't use the Internet or e-mail a great deal. These
small charges can soon mount up to very high phone bills.
Reid the practice manager of Cadmans
Solicitors in Cleckheaton said "We first installed Internet
and e-mail on the network in 1999 until that time just a few members
of staff used the Internet and e-mail. We had not been monitoring
use closely but the bills have been getting larger over time.
We approached UK Online for Business for advice on another IT problem
we were having but as part of our initial IT review the advisor
also asked us about other areas of ICT including how we were using
the Internet. Our advisor asked to review our phone bills for the
line we use for Internet access. After reviewing the costs he suggested
that we could make considerable savings and increase our utilisation
of the Internet through the implementation of broadband.
I had looked at it in 2001 but we had established that the costs
were higher than our current situation. Our advisor then promised
to get us some more up-to-date prices. Less than 24 hours later
I was ordering ADSL line and a firewall for installation. The whole
process was very easy especially with the support of our UK Online
for Business advisor. We have reduced our monthly bills from over
£150 to just £38.
The other benefits of getting our e-mail much quicker because of
the always on connection and the increase of speed have made our
use of e-mail and our research online far more effective and has
freed some staff up to work more effectively."