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How Does Always-On Broadband Internet Work?

In the distant past an always-on Internet connection was the stuff of dreams. However, in an ever-more connected world remaining consistently and reliably connected to the Internet is becoming ever more important – and possible.

The Business Cost of Network Failure

A number of studies over the years have tried to estimate the impact of network failure on business infrastructure. The results make for some truly eye-watering reading. For example, it has been estimated that the average company without an always-on connection loses around 14 hours of productive time each year.

While that may sound bad enough, the financial impacts of infrastructure failure like this can be considerable. Another study estimated that every minute of Internet downtime costs an average company $5,400 (roughly £4,048). This clocks in at over $300,000 per hour of lost connection time.

How Do Internet Connections Fail?

In this day and age, it may initially seem shocking that so many companies are affected by poor network reliability. However, a deeper investigation reveals a gamut of impacts on network performance. Some of the more notable factors include:

Severe Weather – In cases where above-ground cabling is used, strong winds and other catastrophic weather conditions can down cabling, leading to connection problems.

Downed Telephone Lines – Phone lines don’t just fail in severe weather conditions, but can also receive damage as a result of poor maintenance, or obstructions such as falling trees or tall vehicles splitting the cable.

Cable Cuts – In terms of underground cabling, it is not uncommon for construction workers to accidentally cut through cabling without realizing its positioning.

In other words, there are a number of factors which can lead to a failed Internet connection, many of which are out of the control of either the end user or even the service provider. While these connections are invariably repaired, the solution can take hours or even days to accomplish. During that time, individuals in the area can be affected with minimal or non-existent Internet access.

What Do Downtime SLA’s Actually Mean in Practice?

An always-on connection is so key to many companies and institutions it is little wonder that an increasing number of web hosts and ISPs offer a “Service Level Agreement”. The SLA is designed to assure consumers just how “reliable” their internet connection is likely to be.

A common number used is 99% uptime – but what does this really mean in practice? After all, 99% uptime sounds quite impressive – but is it?

A service provider offering 99% uptime actually equates to a potential loss of service for 7 hours and 12 minutes each month. Depending on the frequency, duration and time-of-day such outages can still be a significant inconvenience.

Better still are those providers who offer 99.9% availability, where the potential loss is shortened considerably to just 43 minutes and 12 seconds.

For companies requiring the most reliable broadband service of all, even this can be a major issue.After all, a trader losing out on 43 minutes of transactions could lose vast sums before their Internet connection is restored.

This is where a tiny handful of companies like Luminet come in, offering an unrivalled 100% SLA.

The obvious question is quite how this is achieved? After all, with all the potential risks discussed earlier, how does a service provider mitigate these factors to offer 100% connectivity?

How Always-On Internet Connections Protect You

100% always-on Internet makes use of a concept known as “business continuity failover”. This is simply defined as the utilization of a system which automatically transfer control to a duplicate system when the first stops working.

In the case of Luminet, two different broadband offerings are used. Firstly, Luminet offer standard fibre broadband with bandwidth capabilities up to 1GB. The failover comes in the form of Luminet’s widely-respected “Fibre Air Broadband”. Here wireless microwave technology is used to offer similar speeds, with an SLA of 99.95%.

Combined, these two services operate concurrently, switching from standard fibre to fibre air in the case of interruption, a process that takes as little as 60 seconds. This offers almost uninterruptible levels of Internet connectivity, and reliability that even the most demanding clients have found greatly exceeded their expectations.

Why not learn more about our always-on broadband or take a look at some of our case studies.