Fibre Optic

Fibre Optic Internet– why haven’t you upgraded yet?

Fibre Optic Internet– why haven’t you upgraded yet? 150 150 Kerry Butters

Businesses thrive on communication and bad connections that impede that communication need addressing. The internet has come a long way since the dial-up days and it’s advisable to start looking into upgrade options even from your current broadband connection. If you don’t have fibre optic internet connectivity at your business, it’s probably time you considered it. It’s not that new a technology and the price of an upgrade is likely to be nominal.

Now, it’s understandable to be cautious with money and upgrades aren’t always necessary. However in some cases early adoption can be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. Every business hopes for speedy communications and it seeks good technology that facilitates an easy transfer of information; now there’s a simple solution, one that provides both of those advantages: fibre optic cabling.

What is Fibre Optic?

Fibre optic is an all-purpose solution that can positively affect all communication and information sharing practices that occur within your business. It provides faster and more reliable internet conditions that allows businesses to work remotely, to connect with their customers and to send information in a secure manner. It’s currently one of the most advanced systems on the market and your business will notice its great benefits right out of the box.

But to make the case for the upgrade to fibre optic cabling here’s a number of reasons why you should start using this technology today.

Send information much further

Fibre optic can carry and convey information over great distances without compromising the integrity of that data. There’s no negative impact on speed and quality either and due to the advanced nature of fibre optic cabling, your business can connect with multiple users from all over the globe without your internet connectivity suffering. Fibre optic cabling is the perfect solution for businesses that aim for better connectivity, internet speeds, and future proof internet systems.

Faster speeds

The best and most obvious benefit of fibre optic cabling is the great increase in internet browsing speeds. This means that downloading and sending files goes a lot quicker and more smoothly and this increase in speed also extends to video conferencing and basic browsing of the online world. Fibre optic means that you can do everything you normally would, just much more quickly, meaning that productivity is increased across your whole business infrastructure.

Safer and more secure browsing

A company’s online infrastructure is something that needs safeguarding and protecting. The data that moves through it is often sensitive and businesses need to employ a lot of software to make sure that it stays safe. Fibre optic cabling provides some marked benefits to security for businesses. This is due to it being one of the safest ways you can send and receive information over the web because fibre optic cables are very difficult to tap into. Companies and businesses can experience heightened peace of mind when sending information through these channels and the worry of being hacked can be alleviated.

Cloud computing services

A boost to your internets speed capabilities offers so many time-saving and productivity benefits. There is the greater flexibility when you consider how, when and where you access the internet and even from what device, to the fact that content no longer needs to be hosted predominantly on your computer or server.  Instead the content is saved remotely at a data centre, meaning that you can access it from wherever an internet connection is available.

Whilst you can still use cloud services without fibre optic connections, the upgrade in internet speeds means that you can move much larger file types into the cloud. With faster internet speeds, accessing that data and utilising it becomes much easier and the information is more readily available. Any internet enabled device can access this data, from smartphones to tablets, and when those devices are connected on your network the internet speed they’ll enjoy will be markedly increased.

Data transfer speeds

Due to faster internet the accessing and sharing of information becomes much easier. Video files are increasing in their quality and so are most media types of data and to use these files superfast broadband is needed. Gone are the days when video files were under 100mbs and now many files will be far over 5gbs. This change in the way that files are sized, and the quality that it’s rendered in, mean that faster internet is rapidly becoming an essential upgrade.

This same principle applies to the maintenance of a website and sites that have large files, high quality pictures and video, will run much more efficiently on faster connections. Remember that many of your customers have got fibre optic connections, so their experiences will be greatly improved too.

Fibre optic options can make your business more streamlined, more connected, and increase productivity. It will benefit existing BYOD policies and of course it will future proof your network infrastructures, especially if you take it one step further and have the intranet cabled with fibre too (although this is reasonably rare). You’re going to have to upgrade sooner rather than later, and you can start enjoying increased internet speeds nearly immediately. Most areas in the UK now have super fast broadband support, if yours does – upgrade now.

Of course, there are some areas, most predominantly rural, that don’t have access to fibre just yet, but this is something that’s being addressed by the UK government and even those that don’t have access to superfast in the next couple of years, should have 4G coverage.

Image: Jared Zammit

Which Network Cabling Solution is Right for your Business?

Which Network Cabling Solution is Right for your Business? 150 150 Simon Randall

Most businesses today, especially those with several employees, all of whom need to access a common database and/or bespoke programs, and/or access the Internet, have a computer network in place. It’s generally accepted that a cable network is better than a wireless one, although this is something that can be said to be swiftly changing. However, for larger firms cable networks are usually faster, more stable, and more secure from external interference.

No two Businesses are the same

But which network cabling solution is best for your business? What are the various factors you should be considering and what are the main decision drivers? Here in this article we will lay out the various options open to you and guide you as to which are more appropriate for a given set of circumstances.

Important Prerequisites to Take on Board

Whatever option you decide is appropriate for your business, there are two important prerequisites to consider. The first is looking to the future. Where will your business be, or where do you hope it will be, in terms of size and personnel, in the foreseeable future?

What Does the Future Hold for Networks?

Most business owners will be hoping that their businesses will grow and prosper. After all, it seems pretty pointless to start an enterprise in the first place if there is no potential for growth and expansion. So it’s important when you are considering installing a wired network, to build in sufficient spare capacity to be able to allow more users to connect, as and when required. If you don’t, and you end up having to modify a cabled network at a later stage, it could prove expensive, and may even require a complete re-cabling solution, which would be not only more costly, but time-consuming and inconvenient too.

Cheap and Cheerful or Cheap and Woeful?

The other important consideration is quality. When considering a project such as this, it’s important to obtain several quotations from various contractors. However, you shouldn’t just plump for the cheapest. It often turns out to be the case that the cheaper quotation, the more inferior the quality. Asking your employees to work on a substandard quality network may cause more problems with speed and downtime than you realise. It could end up costing you more in terms of inefficient operation, and time lost.

The Types of Cabling Available

There are essentially five different types of network cabling available that we will discuss here, and they are:

  • ·         Category 5 (Cat5)
  • ·         Category 5e (Cat5e)
  • ·         Category 6 (Cat6)
  • ·         Category 7 (Cat7)
  • ·         Fibre Optic cable

Cat 5 Cable

Cat5 cable used to be the industry standard. It was originally designed to cope with speeds of 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second). If you’ve only got a short run of cable, you might even be able to squeeze a speed of one gigabyte through it, but that’s in no way guaranteed. With today’s vastly increased data handling requirements Cat5 is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and any innovative company wouldn’t make this choice.

Cat5e Cable

The “e” in Cat5e stands for “enhanced”; so in other words, Cat5e is an enhanced version of the old Cat5. It has been designed to support speeds of 1000 Mbps (1 Gigabit), so is much faster than its predecessor. In addition to being faster, it also minimises something called “crosstalk” which is basically the name given to the interference that can be generated between wires inside the cable itself.

Cat6 Cable

Cat6 cable is a further improvement on Cat5e. This little chap is not only capable of handling speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second, but its screening capabilities to shield against both external interference and crosstalk, have also been enhanced. Cat7 is again an upgrade to earlier versions and is also intended to allow 10Gbit/s over 100 metres of copper cabling.

Fibre Optic Cabling

Fibre optic cabling, is “the daddy”. But it’s also quite an expensive daddy too. When it comes down to the four different types of cabling options, optical fibre is by far the most expensive, but it does have some tremendous things to offer, if indeed you are in a position to be able to take advantage of them.

The Speed of Light

Instead of using good old-fashioned electricity to transmit its signals, fibre optic cable uses light instead. We all know about the speed of light of course – it’s the fastest thing known to man, excepting Gene Roddenberry’s warp drive (thank you Star Trek). Fibre optic can transmit signals at more than 10 Gigs per second, which is pretty fast in anybody’s language. But that’s not all.

Interference Safe

Fibre optic cable is not subject to any outside electrical interference, nor does it generate any electro-magnetic-fields that could interfere with other electrical equipment. In other words, it can be run almost anywhere. In fact, where critical sensitive equipment has been installed, like MRI scanners in hospitals for example, fibre optic is the only way to go.

Distance is no Object, but Cost is

Another big advantage that fibre optic cabling has, is that because it is not sending its signal down physical wiring, but is using light instead, it meets virtually no resistance. This means that the signal strength does not noticeably weaken. In fact, the signal can travel over 5000 miles before you have to start thinking about boosting it.

But choosing fibre-optic may be taking that one step too many, because as we’ve already said, it’s more expensive. Then there’s the cost of the cable itself to consider, plus the cost of installation too. Saying that, depending on the size and nature of the business using it, there’s ROI to be had when choosing fibre as it can handle significantly more bandwidth and is ideal for large organisations or those that use a huge amount of network bandwidth, such as CAD companies (architects, for example).

Cable Choice Influences

Having taken a look at the various cable options that are available, let’s now look at what other factors you need to consider in order to decide which type of cable go with.

What Bandwidth do you need?

The first thing that you need to consider when trying to determine which choice of cable to go with, is the size of your current bandwidth requirements. But, bearing in mind what we talked about earlier, you must also consider what size of bandwidth you may require in the future.

Size Matters

The size of your current network (also taking into consideration any future expansion) is your prime consideration. For example, a small network of only 10 workstations would normally be expected to have a lower bandwidth signature than one of say, 50 stations. But it’s not just that. It also depends on the nature of the data that being pushed around too.

Type and Volume of Data

The nature of the data that is expected to be carried by the network is of great importance. For example; a design studio operating only three or four PCs or Macs, but dealing with and creating graphics, will generate a far larger data requirement than an office running 20 PCs, simply working on MS Word and or Excel files.

Multifunctional Disciplines

Often businesses are often multifunctional in terms of the disciplines that staff are dealing with. Office staff will be working with Microsoft Office software, design staff with graphics software, and publishing staff creating PDFs and such like. Forecasting how each department may evolve in terms of personnel and their associated data requirements is no easy task. In fact it’s all about guess work and exceptional business planning. But when made by the right people with a finger on the business’ pulse, at least it will be an educated guess.

Erring on the Safe Side

Generally speaking, if the budget can be stretched, it’s far better to overestimate the future bandwidth requirements than to underestimate them. Underestimation will adversely affect the business’s functionality and efficiency, and it will cost more again if the need arises to update or re-cable the network at a later date. Future proofing and scalability are vital in today’s connected world.

Working to Budget

In many instances, IT managers may simply be given a budget and told to get on with it. Hopefully, if the company is a forward-thinking one, the bosses will have consulted the IT department before finalising the budget.

In terms of cost, cable prices become progressively more expensive, rising up through the ranks from Cat5 to Fibre Optic. However, two things are clear. One is that Cat5 is outdated and as such should never really be considered for a new cable network installation.

Overkill or Prudence?

At the other end of the scale, fibre optic, although much faster, and safer in terms of interference and the need for shielding, is overkill for some businesses. They may even find that legacy hardware is not up to the job of taking advantage of the speed that fibre optic cabling can offer.

Then of course there’s the cost. It’s the most expensive of the options. But having said that, providing the equipment can be kept in a reasonable dust free environment, and the budget is flexible enough, it is undoubtedly the best way to go. Future capacity-wise, it will handle most things that will be thrown at it.

The Middle Road

For the majority of smaller network installations, Cat 5e – Cat7 will be sufficient. But as there is not a huge cost differential (and the labour cost for installation would be the same, whichever one is chosen), then fibre offers that extra speed, meaning that businesses can opt for more bandwidth to allow for a good margin of expansion in the future. In terms of looking forward, getting it right now, first time, can save an awful lot of aggravation and possible extra expense.

Good planning is vital and it pays to choose a supplier that can cover all bases, from initial design of the network, to installation and testing. There is also another option that we haven’t mentioned here and that is Air Blown Fibre Optics, so check out our page for this for more information.

At Quadratek, we provide the full solution, whatever your cabling needs and networking needs, so get in touch to see how we can meet all of your networking needs, from Ethernet cabling to wireless, support and Break-Fix SLAs.

The Big Dig

The Big Dig 150 150 Simon Randall

Quadratek dig 3.5km trench to install a 24 Core Fibre Optic Cable and DON 10 Cables, across an airfield site.