SMEs need fibre for business advantage
Brian Timperley, MD of MICROmega Group company Turrito Networks
Having reliable, high-speed connectivity has become an imperative for small to medium businesses. But with many decision-makers still focused on traditional ADSL access, what needs to happen for fibre to become the de facto standard?
Contrary to popular belief, fibre access is an incredible, cost-effective connectivity solution, says Brian Timperley, MD of MICROmega Group company Turrito Networks. However, the biggest problems are the lengthy time-frames for installation. With a waiting period of up to 180 days from many providers in SA, there is clearly a difference between getting fibre and having it.
This can be a death sentence for an SME operating in a hyper-competitive environment. By forcing them to wait so long, many companies are looking for alternatives like ADSL in the short term, only to be disappointed by the resultant poor speeds and instability of this infrastructure. Rather, businesses can offer interim wireless solutions, which deliver speed and stability almost equitable to fibre solutions, while the fibre is being trenched. This gives customers the flexibility for far stronger interim solutions, without adding frustration and additional costs.
Once fibre is up and running, the opportunities are limitless.
Having unlimited data at high throughput gives small businesses the platform they need to accelerate growth and improve productivity. And while many providers are marketing uncapped ADSL solutions as a business standard, the reality is often quite different.
Things like contention ratios, shaping, and soft capping result in many business owners falling prey to the fine print. The majority of ADSL solutions are packaged as consumer offerings. So while affordability might be there, the reliability and performance are not. In fact, many SMEs opt for consumer solutions instead of business ones because of cost concerns. But these are not designed with the needs of business in mind.
There is also still a misconception around fibre. In essence, it is the 'last mile' of connectivity to the home or business. The Internet breakout is often the same on any medium; it's just the speed and contention given to those mediums that affect the overall speed and performance.
Additionally, a fibre link is substantially more stable and far stronger on upstream data than anything an ADSL solution can provide. So while everybody loves fast download speeds, businesses need to push information at a speed which ADSL cannot reliably provide.
What is more, fibre technology can cater for any type of business in any industry. The way it is architected is inherently different to that of ADSL. Designed to provide reliable connectivity at all times, fibre enables a different type of business generation.
This is one that accesses information at a speed and quality that enable SMEs to consume cloud services effortlessly, improving their productivity, resilience and efficiency. And while many of us can relate to ADSL going down, thanks to copper theft and poor exchange infrastructure, but short of someone trenching a road illegally and cutting the fibre link, little can go wrong.
This year we will see a very strong adoption of fibre solutions for both business and consumers in South Africa. The new price point on fibre also makes legacy offerings like ADSL and Diginet seem expensive in a like-for-like comparison. There is an increased awareness of the need for quality connectivity. Fibre will make it a reality for many small and medium businesses this year, resulting in a snowball effect for the market. Inevitably, this is what aids business growth, economic growth and ultimately helps drive the country forward.