Internet access is essential to most organisations to deliver services. But the speed (how fast your access is ) and the bandwidth (how many users can connect at the same time) will determine how useful your service will be.
Commonly referred to as ‘broadband’, there are a few different types of connections that fit under this banner. The main types of internet connections you would have heard of are:
- Fixed broadband: A fixed broadband service is where you have a physical connection to the internet. This could be an ADSL or ADSL2+ connection that uses your telephone line, a cable connection that may use the same connection that Foxtel and Optus pay-TV services use, or fibre option cable – a high-speed technology using light to transmit information. A fixed connection generally offers better connections at the same price point as other options.
- Fixed wireless or satellite: Where a physical connection isn’t suitable, a fixed wireless service may be another option. In this situation, an antenna or dish is installed on the outside of your building and connects to a high-speed signal from your internet service provider.
- Mobile broadband: Mobile broadband uses the same connection as your mobile phone. While it is fast, it can be quite expensive when using it regularly. It’s recommended that mobile broadband only be used for light external work.
- NBN network: The NBN is Australia’s new high-speed broadband network, promising speeds much faster than ADSL2+ and cable. It will be offered through a mix of different options such as wired and satellite.
High-Speed Broadband and Improving business efficiency
A fast internet connection opens up new ways to work with and support clients, your own staff and other organisations. It can provide access to real time and interactive video conferences, webinars, etc.
Sharing data and the transfer of files quickly and easily, results in more seamless online communications between organisations and clients. Faster internet speeds allows organisations to take advantage of rich media, such as video and images without delays, and overall service processes can be improved.
Video conferencing and teleworking has the potential to give organisations access to a larger, skilled workforce. With a good broadband connection, video calls and video conferencing – or ‘online meetings’ – become a viable way to work with others. Online meetings – where any number of people in different places can talk to and see one another via their computers, can save significantly on travel. Video conferencing makes it possible to consult and engage more quickly and effectively than you could by using email or trying to get everyone in a room together.
High-speed broadband also provides opportunities for faster networked connections across multiple sites and improved remote access due to the high bandwidth and reliability.
You can also use ‘voice over internet protocol’, or VOIP, where your calls are sent online rather than through the phone system. Using VOIP will mean replacing your regular landline phones with internet-enabled phones, but the overall cost should be cheaper. If you want to keep your landline, you can still make expensive interstate and overseas calls more cheaply using online services such as Skype. Both VOIP and Skype rely on a fast internet connection.
It is important staff feel confident with new hardware and software. While it’s hard to beat face-to-face personalised training, there are many resources online, including training programs and ‘webinars’ which can give staff the information and confidence they need to select and use information and communications technology (for example, Microsoft’s Digital Literacy program). Watching a webinar or training video or taking part in online training is far more feasible with a smooth, fast internet connection.