Business broadband is changing. In the next few years, BT Openreach will say goodbye forever to old-style copper telephone lines, switching off the network that has served homes and businesses for more than 20 years. In its place, we’ll all be using fibre optic cables. So what can we expect from the copper to fibre switch, and how can businesses prepare?
Check out our handy flyer for the key facts or read on for more detailed information.
Farewell to the old technology
Copper telephone wires have been the lifeblood of our telephone and internet network for years, with many customers still relying on these networks to this day. They support traditional PSTN, ADSL and ISDN lines.
- PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) – A traditional telephone line using copper wire to transmit voice communications. The simplest phone setup, common in residential properties and small businesses.
- ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) – Using a PSTN, comprises of standard copper wire telephone lines. With the addition of a microfilter however, users can make phone calls and browse the internet at the same time. A common choice for residential and small business use.
- ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) – Uses traditional copper wire telephone lines but sends digital rather than analogue transmissions, making it faster than ADSL. A common choice for businesses.
These technologies have all been essential business communication tools – but the new full fibre optic cables can do the same job much faster, flexibly and more reliably.
Your current set up may very well differ from another business. For example, you might run fibre cables to the exchange cabinet and then copper wires from the exchange to your premises (FTTC – Fibre to the cabinet), whereas others might run fibre cables to their front door (FTTP – Fibre to the premises). In fact, some don’t have fibre at all and solely rely on the copper network. Even if you have an FTTC set up however, this won’t be enough. All businesses and residential properties will need to have FTTP.
The good news is that there’s plenty of time to prepare for the big switch, which won’t happen until 2026 – and when it does begin, it will happen gradually so you have time to adapt. Fibre optic cables first made their appearance back in 2000, with more people adopting them over time, so the changeover to pure fibre broadband really is happening slowly.
That said, there will be a time in the next few years when your existing ADSL, ISDN and copper phone lines will stop working, to be replaced by fibre. This is a really positive step for business communications – there’s a bright future ahead, with super-fast internet connections paving the way. They’ll enable things like video conferencing, Cloud computing and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone lines, which can transform your business communications and help you to work more efficiently.
Fibre optic internet connections have:
- Faster speeds, so you can transmit data more quickly.
- More reliability, so you’ll get a good connection no matter what time it is, or how far you are from the exchange.
- More potential, allowing you the flexibility to work remotely.
- Better value when you take advantage of technologies like VoIP, which could save you 60% on telephone bills because all calls are made over the internet.
What to do now
Now’s the time to take stock of your existing phone and broadband setup, and plan for the future. The sooner you do this, the better equipped you’ll be for the switch when it comes.
- Check the technologies you’re currently using for your business telephone and internet services. Are they serving you well? Listing any pros and cons will help you identify what you need from a new system, and if you need to take action straight away.
- Are you in a fibre-enabled area? Over 90% of the UK can currently access super-fast broadband technology, but if you’re in one of the remaining areas not yet connected, you’ll have to adjust your plans accordingly.
- Create a wish-list. Decide which technologies could support your business goals in the next 5-10 years. Talk to a telecoms specialist to find out which systems are most likely to serve your needs. Our friendly team of experts are only a call away!
Explore your options with Croft
Need advice from a telecoms specialist? Look no further than Croft Communications. We tailor our phone and broadband solutions to each individual client, so you’ll get exactly what you need to future-proof your business.
Are you working from home with a residential broadband connection? Wondering if business broadband is worth the extra cash? Get the lowdown on all the little extras that could add up to a better deal for your business.
All broadband packages offer some level of support, but the customer service you can access is not always equal. With a good business broadband contract, you’ll have access to high-quality technical support that aims to troubleshoot any issues as quickly as possible, so you can get back to business with minimal disruption. If you’re a small business without an in-house IT department, good external support is a perk worth having – the reduction in downtime and quick resolution of problems could save you a significant amount in the long term.
Superior connection speeds
Need faster broadband that you can rely on? Switching to business broadband will improve your connection speed. Broadband for business is designed to accommodate tasks like video conferencing with ease, so you can get things done without interruption. There’s usually a range of different options available, designed for different business needs. At the cheapest end of the spectrum, there’s FTTC fibre broadband, which is perfect for small businesses. At Croft, we offer a small business broadband package from just £21 per month. At the other extreme, larger businesses that need superior connections may opt for lightning-fast business ethernet designed for heavy data users.
Every business must protect its sensitive data, so cybersecurity is rightly a big concern for companies. That’s why business packages have a higher level of security protection than residential broadband, with anti-virus and firewall software included as standard, as well as the option to back up your data to a secure server. Business broadband users also have the option to rent a private leased line that others can’t intercept.
Service level agreements (SLAs)
Business broadband deals offer a guarantee of reliability that can’t be matched by their residential equivalents. When you sign up for a business broadband package, you’ll benefit from a service level agreement (SLA) that sets out the level of service you can expect from your provider. This is great for peace of mind and business continuity.
Phone and web services
With business broadband, you can bundle in hosted phone services such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as part of your package. If you’re currently paying for a separate phone line, this could save you money.
If you want to host your own website, your business broadband package may also accommodate this, with some deals including web hosting, domain registration and business email addresses.
Static IP address
A static IP address enables many business-related tasks, such as logging on remotely to your PC, running a server or making reliable VoIP calls. It is possible to request a static IP address as part of a home broadband package, but this is usually an added extra. With business broadband, it’s included as standard.
The coronavirus crisis has propelled remote working into the mainstream, triggering an unprecedented demand for fast and reliable broadband connections. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the fastest and most dramatic revolutions in the telecoms industry we’ve ever seen. As the dust settles after lockdown, this new reliance on connectivity is likely to continue – but what else does the post-Covid future hold for telecoms technology?
Unlimited data and remote working
In spring 2020, the sudden but ongoing shift to remote working drove a demand for connectivity that shows no sign of waning, even as the government tries to encourage former commuters back to the office. Predictably, mobile usage and roaming both decreased, while home broadband usage increased dramatically.
The switch to remote working is likely to mean an increasing trend towards unlimited data plans, as more people log in from home. At the same time, we do expect people to start travelling again, with a corresponding increase in mobile data usage.
Network reliability and customer service
Network reliability is going to be an ongoing focus in the post-Covid world, as more jobs are done from a distance. There’s nothing more frustrating than a frozen screen in the middle of a video conference! Many businesses will need to look at their network requirements and consider upgrading to a faster connection. At Croft, we’re committed to delivering fast and reliable business broadband solutions that won’t let you down – even at peak times.
Remote work is likely to increase security and infrastructure risks for customers and telecoms providers – because accessing data in the cloud makes it vulnerable to cyber attacks. Businesses that enable remote working will need to get to grips with the issues surrounding cyber security, and the measures they need to take to keep their data secure.
Contrary to some of the wilder conspiracy theories out there, we can confirm that the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t just a front to foist 5G technology onto the world. That’s not to say 5G won’t change the way we live, however. This disruptive next-generation connectivity represents a potential revolution in the communications industry, with implications for everything from the speed of our internet connections to the infrastructure of our cities.
That said, 5G may not arrive as quickly as planned, with delays caused by the pandemic meaning it’ll take longer for 5G networks to be up and running.
Tracking the spread: what does it mean for data privacy?
One of the more exciting applications of communications technology is its potential as a tool to contain the spread of Covid. By tracking people’s movements through mobile technology, it’s possible to identify clusters of infection, enabling governments to act quickly to stop it spreading further. But using people’s data and tracking their location in this way raises important ethical questions about data protection and privacy. It’s important that this is addressed as we enter an age of pandemics, so that these valuable tools are trusted by the public, and can be used to their full potential.
Do you love simplicity? Always looking for an elegant solution? Then the very concept of unified communications is likely to appeal to you and your business. But there’s more to it than that – having a single system to handle all of your telephony, broadband and other communication systems is likely to bring a solid and worthwhile return on investment. Here’s how…
Save cash on bills
If you’re paying out to several different providers for your internet, telephony, teleconferencing and more, streamlining your systems is almost certain to save you money. Many companies are paying out more than they need to, for apps that overlap or perform functions they don’t actually use. At Croft, we’ll help you simplify your communications. We offer bespoke unified communications bundles designed to meet your business needs – whether you’re an SME, larger business or a public sector organisation.
And it’s not just about the direct savings you’ll make from streamlining your tech. Reliable and efficient communications technology allows businesses to make remote working a permanent reality – potentially saving you money on office space and running costs.
Cut down on travel costs
In the age of Zoom, the thought of spending thousands of pounds travelling to meetings and conferences looks increasingly illogical. Unified communications makes it easy to get everyone together, no matter where they are, on any device – so you’ll only need to shell out on trains or planes when face-to-face meetings can’t be avoided. You can even save on candidate expenses by having initial interviews by video conference.
Keep calm and carry on
The world can be an unpredictable place, as the past few months have shown. But with a cloud-based unified communications system, you can protect your revenue stream by allowing your business to carry on, whatever happens. Whether it’s a lockdown forcing workers to dial in from home, a fire at the office, or any other setback, being able to access all of your data from any location means that nothing can hold you back – you might even pick up extra business from competitors who haven’t been so wise with their communications tech. That’s got to be worth investing in!
Work smarter with better communication
Could you get things done more efficiently with better modes of communication? The opportunity to integrate methods like instant messaging and video conferencing, SMS and voice calls into one single platform can revolutionise your communications, especially if you have a lot of employees working remotely.
- One single, unified system means less time spent trying to figure out the tech – so you can get on with your meetings instead of struggling to log in.
- Being able to access everything in the cloud will cut down on time wasted on overnight stays or train journeys – because it’s easy to get things done on the move.
- With a host of opportunities for collaboration, your team can work more efficiently using the tools that suit them – so you end up with better results for less effort.
Want to know more? Find out how Croft’s Unified Communications service can bring your business a great ROI!
Remote working, and the technology that enables it, has been a godsend for many businesses in the past few months. The coronavirus has enforced an experiment in working from home that has opened up new possibilities for companies and their employees, and as a result, remote working is here to stay.
But while a home-based workforce can help limit the spread of the virus, it may also introduce risks of a different kind. Increased reliance on the cloud for communication and storage can make businesses more vulnerable to cyber attacks. At the same time, the protections that the traditional office environment afforded employees, such as firewalls and blacklisted IP addresses, may not be in place in a home office setting.
Here are some of the main risks that a business employing remote workers should be aware of.
Lack of remote working policy
If you’ve never had a remote workforce before, you might not have any documented policies about the dos and don’ts. But going forward, it’s essential that everyone’s on the same page. Take the time to create a policy for your team which includes clear rules covering everything from the passwords they use to the way their devices are stored. Try to involve employees in the creation of the policy by asking for feedback on issues they need clarity on, and making sure everyone knows how vital these rules will be for the security of the business.
Remote employees using their own devices
Lots of people have worked through lockdown using their personal home computers or tablets. For some, it was the only option: the enforced home working took many of us by surprise and there was no time to supply an alternative. But in the long term, using personal devices to do company work is a big no-no. Instead, each remote worker would ideally be issued with a laptop, tablet or mobile that’s to be used exclusively by them whilst working from home.
Forking out for devices for every employee may seem expensive, but the price you pay for a data breach could be a lot higher. Think about it: if employees aren’t using company-owned devices, things like antivirus software, application updates and secure authentication are completely outside of your control. How do you monitor who’s accessing sensitive data if it’s stored on a private machine that might be shared with others? If you want to protect your data going forward, now’s the time to formalise your remote working procedures with company devices for all.
Weak login credentials
Working from home means logging in remotely. Every time someone uses data in the cloud, there’s an increased security risk – however small – which means it’s extra important to use unique, strong passwords that are kept private and not re-used: poorly-formulated login credentials could be easily exploited by hackers. Using tools like LastPass can help ensure that passwords are strong, and that they’re stored securely.
Vulnerability of home networks and broadband
How secure is your home broadband connection? Unlike broadband for business, home connections often have weaker security protocols, because they’re not designed to protect business data. If you’re not sure, you can always give us a call to talk it through. We can help you with your cyber security needs and provide expert advice and tools to combat risk.
Reliance on cloud-based tools
Zoom, Slack and other cloud-based apps can be invaluable when connecting and collaborating with a remote workforce, but with any cloud-based technology, it’s important to consider the security implications. Take the time to evaluate the risks you’re taking whenever you select a cloud-based tool for your business. You might decide that the risk is acceptable in some scenarios but not others – for example, it’s OK for a Friday afternoon social get-together but not for a confidential client meeting. Or you might say that everyone needs to customise their settings to the highest level of security. For example, on Zoom you could disable the file-sharing option, to stop the spread of malware.
Working in an office, GDPR policies are usually simple. There’s filing space for confidential paper files, and the personal data revealed in a phone call isn’t likely to be overheard. But for remote workers, you need to make more effort to secure your client data. All the little things that might seem inconsequential – like working from a café or sharing a workspace with family members – could, in fact, put you in breach of GDPR regulations.
Put policies in place to make sure that confidential conversations can’t be eavesdropped, private data isn’t visible on a video call, and a lost laptop can’t be accessed by prying eyes. For those using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), consider utilising Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to remotely access any lost or stolen devices and remove and wipe any sensitive data.
Phishing has always been a problem, but it may become more of an issue in this age of coronavirus. Unlike many cyber security risks, this one isn’t based on technology. Instead, it preys on human error and vulnerability.
In a phishing scam, crooks exploit someone’s fear or curiosity to get them to reveal their personal data. This may be more likely to happen if employees are working alone, and especially now that there’s so much important legitimate messaging going on with things like contact tracing and HMRC grants. The global move towards remote working amid lockdown scenarios means that there has been a spike in virtual interactions – and the phishers have moved in for the kill. As such, it’s really important that everyone in your organisation gets proper training to differentiate a legitimate message from a scam.
Need help with cyber security?
One of the best ways you can protect your company data is to get help from the professionals. At Croft, we’re old hands at remote working – so we can listen to your needs and advise you on the right technology. Get in touch with our expert team for invaluable advice, or get a free quote on any remote working equipment your business may be lacking.