Whether your business is in a brick-and-mortar location or it is to be found online, an internet connection is, of course, vital. Even if a company has no ecommerce dimension, internet is still required for the level of connectivity that modern businesses simply need.
But so much is obvious and, in any case, when we talk about the “internet requirements” for an ecommerce business or a physical location such as an office, we are nearly always speaking about two different things. A website needs a domain and sufficient bandwidth for the purposes of hosting the site online; a physical location needs internet provision to connect the people that work there.
We will focus in this article on internet requirements for a business location, and there is much to consider. The most common question businesses have regarding this is about how fast an internet connection needs to be. It is certainly possible to lay out the requisite internet speeds for companies of different sizes (which we will get on to below) but, of course, there is considerably more to it than even this.
The physical infrastructure, for one thing, is important. Regardless of how many people are logging on to your business network, physical buildings over a certain size will require wi-fi boosters, with the number needed increasing with the building’s size. This is important for ensuring people can successfully connect to the network.
Also important is what type of activities your employees engage in. There are hardly two individual internet users that are the same One employee may simply need to browse the web and submit text documents; another might be downloading massive files, using expensive programs, and sending files, images, or videos of large size. The second of these two hypothetical internet users will require more bandwidth and speed.
Then there are the realities of modern business and the wider trends that every business needs to submit to (to at least some extent). A good example here is the home working trend. This is something that has been growing in recent years, and was indeed boosted more by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many employees leaving the office and never returning.
While a remote worker will of course use a different internet provision wherever they are, ensuring smooth communication in things like video calls is something that a business needs to consider when setting up their internet infrastructure.
The other elephant in the room is security. You would need to be living under a rock not to know how important cyber-security is these days, with cyber-criminals and those developing security software locked in a brutal arms race. Each criminal innovation or advancement in hacking methods is being met by an equivalent step up in cyber security. So, setting up a business’s internet infrastructure also needs to take this into account.
Finally, there is the question of how much new and innovative internet technology a business is going to invest in – and when. Advancement in wi-fi provision – such a WiFi 6 – might be an investment worth making – so too might new communications technologies, some of which may require greater bandwidth or infrastructure.
Categories of Internet Infrastructure
It is clear therefore that “business internet requirements” is a massive a wide-ranging topic, subsuming many different areas and categories a business will have to at least consider. Referring above, these categories include:
- physical internet infrastructure
- remote work provision
- cyber security
- new technologies.
This is not an exhaustive checklist – and each of these categories can contain many different things – but accounting for each is certainly a very good place to start when setting up your business’s internet infrastructure.
Which Speed do I Need?
The internet speed your business might require most basically depends upon how many regular users you have for that network. It is actually nothing to do with the size of the building (that comes under physical infrastructure).
Nevertheless, the internet speed that you think you have might not be accurate. There are many things that can slow internet speed, including provider problems and what each internet user is actually doing when they log on.
This raises two points. Firstly, it’s a very good idea to first use an internet speed checker to see what speed you currently have and then to consider this alongside what you have observed in load times, downloads, and remote communication. The second point is that while we can match internet users to recommended speed, this is only a rough guide because again it depends what each user is doing with the internet.
However, these are the speeds most associated with a set number of users:
This is a good speed for up to ten different users. Nonetheless, you may decide to take the step up if those users are uploading large files, as may be the case with a multimedia company.
This is good for between 15 and 20 regular users.
Any new company with an internet speed of 1 Gig is almost certain to have room to expand without upgrading internet provision. With download speeds of 940/880 Mbps, this will also be comfortably sufficient for all tasks.
You need to start thinking about wi-fi boosters – or extenders – when your business is located in a large building. This doesn’t map exactly onto number of users because, for example, your premises could be an office with cubicles or it could be a large open plan start-up space. These offices might be of a similar size and yet host vastly different numbers of employees. Regardless of the number of employees though, wi-fi boosters will be required over a certain building size.
Remote Work and Cyber Security
These two categories overlap because remote work always introduces a new security risk. Your office network might be perfectly secure, but that employee handling sensitive data in a café on a public network is going to present a risk. Accordingly, extra measures such as passwords, anti-virus software, and simple employee education about cyber security could well be essential.
For the office network, you should gauge your cyber security risk with reference to a couple of factors. How valuable is the information, data, files, and documents your company handles? The more valuable, the more your company will be a target for cyber criminals. There is quite a substantial difference between a finance company and one making homemade crafts!
There is also the issue of physical office security. Who can get onto the office computers? Can anyone stand outside the building with a smartphone and access the office network? What level – or levels – of digital clearance do you demand from each employee? These are all questions that you will have to ask yourself and answer with reference to the relevant expertise.
Above all other things, it is probably the internet speed – and finding the right one for your company operations – that will be the most important thing to consider when setting up your business internet infrastructure. But even that alone is not as simple as you might initially think. As we have seen, there are many other things to consider too.