One of the most dominant trends in communication is that people are relying increasingly on data to get their message across, while traditional “calls” are on the decline. The challenge facing all business, but especially small businesses (due to limited budgets and know-how), is what kind of connectivity to invest in.
ADSL vs. Fibre vs. Mobile Broadband
Access to the internet, especially messaging services such as SMS, WhatsApp and various social media platforms, is essential for any business. However, the type and size of your business will determine what type of data connectivity you require.
So what are the data connection options for your small business?
Transmits data via a normal telephone line
- Connection does not conflict with traditional voice calls
- Suitable for a small office (2 or 3 computers) if you won’t be downloading or streaming huge files and you don’t need super-fast speeds, ADSL is perfectly adequate
- Readily available in most areas
- (Remember you can use it as a wi-fi hotspot for cell phones as well.)
- Telephone wire-based, therefore, subject to infrastructure constraints – quality and speed may degrade over longer distances
- Internet speed is affected by the number of users in a particular area
- Telkom owns the lines regardless of your Internet Service Provider, which means the customer can sometimes be ‘piggy in the middle’
Light impulses transmit data
- Super-fast and guaranteed - stable regardless of the number of users
- Same upload and download speed
- Suitable for larger businesses with multiple users, or if you are a ‘heavy’ data user e.g. video conferencing and live streaming
- The best option if you need a dedicated data service for cloud storage
- High protection against cybercrime because access requires physically cutting the fibres which will cause the signal to end – hence its own built-in warning system
- Technology of the future
- Still being rolled out, so not readily available everywhere
Mobile Broadband (cell phone)
Transmits through cell phone towers
- Suitable for very small businesses or if you / your staff are mainly off-site
- Convenient and allows for mobility and the ability to be in contact with customers whenever & wherever
- Great as a back-up plan
- Cellular data in South Africa is still considered to be very expensive
- Need to be in range of a mobile tower – distance affects quality and reliability
- The mobility and convenience come at a heavy price, e.g. pre-paid customers can pay anywhere between 99c and R2. When looking at the various providers, comparing apples with apples is virtually impossible for the layman
The key is to shop around and to get the best dear for your current and short term needs. Beware of being tied into long term and possibly onerous contracts and look for offerings that can grow with your business needs.