One of the problems we face on a day to day basis is customers who's broadband service has a fault.
An individual broadband line can work for many years with no fault, but with thousands of customers our support department deal with faults every day. The most common types of faults are physical faults on lines or equipment. This is no different to telephone lines that can fail due to wear, corrosion, even copper theft. In some ways broadband is more susceptible to faults because it uses more of the phone line in a way - i.e. you can have working phone but non working broadband.
One of the challenges the support staff have is handling a customer for whom their Internet connection is critical for their business. It is increasingly common that a business will grind to a halt with no Internet access.
It is a fact of life that putting copper wires in the ground, you will get faults. Some of the wiring is decades old. It has many joints that are in various types of cabinet and distribution point. Things can flood and break. Thankfully some newer fibre technologies increase reliability, but for normal broadband this is the state of things. We try very carefully to explain this when people take a service - that it can fail and can take days to fix in some cases.
So when someone has Internet that is critical for business, it makes sense to ensure you are not relying on a single broadband line which can fail. You need some sort of backup. That could be as simple as an iPad with a data SIM or a mobile you can WiFi tether - if you are a small business. For larger businesses you need to consider multiple lines, 3G backup and so on. As an ISP we offer a range of higher availability services from multiple lines, our Office::1 service with 3G backup, and even direct fibre connectivity. There is a choice of price and level of service and reliability. A business can make a simple commercial decision as to what level they need and can afford.
But at the end of the day, if you pay more for a higher availability service, the chances of a fault stopping your Internet completely is greatly reduced.
I say reduced, we had a case last week where a copper theft took out hundreds of lines, including both lines for a customer that had two lines. 3G backup is the next step, but there are, of course, even less likely scenarios where all links can fail, and even simple things like power cuts can happen. It is all about managing risk.
What is strange is that, when you explain this simple fact of life to a customer who only has one line for their business: that "if you paid more this would not happen" (as a customer put it), they get all indignant and cross. What is that about?
I think the best we can do is try and ensure staff are as tactful as possible.
But if you have a business that relies on Internet, please do think about what backup you have for that.
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