To take advantage of gigabit speed, you might need a hardware upgrade.
As Google Fiber continues with its construction of a fiber network in Kansas City, businesses of all sizes are preparing to reap the benefits of superfast Internet speeds—approaching 1,000 megabits per second (Mb/s)—and expanded capacity. Traditional bandwidth providers are responding to Google Fiber with speed expansion and lower prices of their own, and businesses need to be ready to take advantage of this competitive market.
Gigabit Internet capacity will allow businesses to do business differently, especially those who have been stuck with lower-speed Internet service due to availability or affordability. There are many applications that can come into play for organizations, such as cloud storage and backups, cloud applications and hosted VoIP phone service. Many such applications will save businesses money, remove disaster risk and open the door for outsourcing of other activities.
We first need to clear up some misconceptions associated with moving to gigabit Internet speeds. Many businesses believe that moving to Internet speeds close to a gigabit per second will make their Internet utilization operate at lightning speed. Unless the internal network infrastructure is addressed, this is simply not the case. Even with infrastructure upgrades, Internet activity will only move as fast as the responding Web server will allow.
A better way of looking at your superfast Internet connection would be that it allows your organization to have more capacity to access applications and perform Internet activities across all workstations at the same time. It reduces concerns over slowdowns.
There are several areas of consideration for network infrastructure improvements to prepare your organization for superfast Internet speeds.
» Router Upgrades // Most routers deployed by small and medium-sized businesses simply do not have the horsepower to handle gigabit/s throughput. Even with the Internet upgrade, your router will throttle back the throughput to its capabilities.
» Network Switches // Typical switches deployed by small and medium-sized businesses have 100 Mb/s ports. This essentially means that each individual connecting to your local network will be limited to the 100 Mb/s speeds over the network and out over the Internet. Even with this limitation, every user can be utilizing the Internet at high speeds simultaneously. If you would like to remove this internal restriction, upgrade to a network switch with gigabit ports.
» VoIP Phone Ports // Businesses that have a VoIP phone service and share an Ethernet connection for their phone and computer may need to upgrade their VoIP phone. Most VoIP phones have dual Ethernet ports with a 100 Mb/s port for a pass through to their computer. This will place the same limitation as a 100 Mb/s switch, even if your router and switch have been upgraded to gigabit speeds. Most VoIP phone manufacturers have models with gigabit ports and consideration can be made to which employees would actually require such throughput to limit your reinvestment for upgrades.
» Computers // Computers are the last point of throughput restriction as they have Ethernet ports that will need to be evaluated for their capacity. Newer computers should have an Ethernet port that is capable of gigabit speeds, but old computers may have a 100 Mb/s Ethernet card. You could go through the steps of replacing the card and drivers. But it will likely also have a slower processer and hard drive, so a replacement may be in order.