Metered Internet Bandwidth Concerns for SMB’s

According to several reports, Time Warner Cable in Texas is piloting what will likely become a model for Internet providers around the country. By offering bandwidth in tiers, Time Warner hopes to capture additional revenues from high-usage customers.

Small to medium sized businesses fall in a gray area where they may or may not need unlimited access, which, from the owner’s perspective, presents new challenges to broadband usage – why pay for unlimited bandwidth when you don’t need it? And, if you don’t buy unlimited access, how do you control usage properly?

Companies know this one-size fits all approach to broadband will soon run out, so now is the time to prepare.

As the SMB landscape continues to change at a record pace, the adaptation of the internet has enabled accessibility to customers and vendors. It has also leveled the playing field by enabling SMB’s to compete in the global marketplace.

The internet and cloud services are considered by many as the great enabler. As such and with a continuing demand for more bandwidth, how will SMB’s adapt without compromise.

So how can SMB’s ensure that they remain competitive without sticker shock at the end of the month in the metered bandwidth ISP paradigm?

Consider the following:

  • Technology policies not only set the boundaries by which employees can and cannot use the internet and valuable company technical resources. But it also protects the business owner assuming that it is properly written, discussed and enforced.
  • Firewalls have often been thought of as gate keepers keeping unauthorized users and data from entering corporate networks. Today’s appliances can also offer content filtering as to prevent valuable company resources to be consumed. These next generation firewalls, provide policy driven rules that can be as stringent or flexible as the company owner deems necessary, thus ensuring that technical and human capital are not wasted.
  • Content such as streaming video, music and the increasing use of social media can also pose an increased demand on internet bandwidth. Business owner need to be aware of these and the demand on consumption that they draw. Social media for example has become a great communication and marketing tool for businesses. But at the same time, should you pay for usage so that your employees, post pictures of their recent day at the beach?
  • Most ISP’s allow for businesses to throttle up the bandwidth based on demand. These can be for specific task such as reporting, database updates or marketing blitz. This model can offer you the access to bandwidth on an “as needed” basis without paying for unlimited bandwidth.
  • Pay for what for what you need, this was the model for cell phone plans just a few years ago. The problem though was that we became so accustomed to cell phones that most everyone had overage charges at one point or another. Cell providers took advantage and offered the unlimited plans and many jumped onboard. It is only in recent years that unlimited cell plans have become less expensive and accessible to most by bundling voice and data plans.

ISP’s can learn a thing or two from this model but more importantly so can the business owner. The demand for bandwidth will only be satisfied when you truly know how and where it is consumed. Monitoring employee’s internet habits will get you so far. Monitoring your business is the key. Deploying tools like a Cisco OnPlus device can provide valuable information that can offer intuitive business decision making.

If you consider stricter controls, firewall policies and rules that block certain contents will pay a much bigger role. Your IT department, vendor or consultant will need to proactively monitor usage in order to minimize unlimited bandwidth for employees to listen to Pandora, surf Facebook or watch YouTube videos.

From the business owner’s perspective, the adaptation of these steps will help curb the new challenges to broadband usage.

Humberto Comellas has close to 30 years experience in the technology industry. He has served as a CIO for two major international banks, Bank of Boston International and Dresdner Bank Latienamerica for almost 18 years combined. He then took the role of CIO for Codina Group, Inc. in Coral Gables from 1998 through 2000, where his experience enabled significant expansion to their complex network. Mr. Comellas then took that experience and founded the technology affiliate of a prominent South Florida CPA firm, Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant as President & Managing Partner of onsiteam advisors, LLC. Through the leadership and guidance of Mr. Comellas, onsiteam advisors, LLC became a major player in the technology service provider space by focusing on solutions to law firms and legal departments. His passion is serving clients and enabling technological solutions to enhance their business strategies. He has served in many technology forums and focus groups, and has established himself as a recognized expert in IT.