A Publication of WTVP

If the speed of your network seems satisfactory today, know that this feeling won’t last for long.

I’ve been in the telecommunications business in Peoria for the last 25 years, and it’s amazing to see how much the industry has changed. When I first started, discussions were focused on phone and low-bandwidth data needs. Today, our conversations with owners and IT directors have shifted almost exclusively to high-speed data connections.

What excites me about my work is that we are continuously helping companies’ productivity, growth and profits through evolving technology. Not only do we equip and streamline telecom and internet for businesses, we enjoy teaching business owners about the choices available to them. With that said, it’s pop quiz time. Is your company’s business internet service: A) symmetric; B) asymmetric; or C) not sure? If your answer is “A,” then read on to corroborate that choice. If your answer is “B” or “C,” read on to learn more.

First off, let’s define the two terms. In a symmetric computer network, all devices can transmit (upload) and receive (download) data at equal rates. In an asymmetric network, data is transmitted at a rate that is disproportionate in one direction or another.

The Need for Speed
Without a doubt, the faster the speed, the better when it comes to business internet access. Many different factors will affect the speed of your network, such as latency (delay), the type of connections available in your area, the distance to your internet service provider, the number of employees using your connection and the type of work they are doing. For example, sending email takes up much less bandwidth than video conferencing, uploading or downloading graphic files, or backing up data and applications to the cloud (which really just means sending data to online storage, hosted by a service provider).

There are two ways data is transmitted: through uploads and downloads. Consumers tend to download more than upload; think music, movies and photos. Businesses, on the other hand, are quite the opposite, tending to upload as much data as they download.

Mission-Critical for Business
When it comes to business communications, having equal upload and download speeds is becoming mission-critical. With the endlessly accelerating pace of online business, no company can afford downtime, latency, drag or unreliability when it comes to:

Real Business Internet vs. DSL
Fortunately, many business owners throughout central Illinois have a choice when it comes to their telecom and internet services. If you’re a business owner or IT director, you’re able to select a provider that offers symmetrical services appropriate for business. To be clear, you may have heard of “business-class” internet service from your local cable company, but this is unlikely to be symmetrical, and probably will not come with a service level agreement (SLA), which guarantees bandwidth, latency and time to repair.

It is common knowledge that cable and DSL can provide high internet speeds, but they are not the most reliable products out there. In today’s world, where reliability and uptime are every bit as important as speed, business owners can now choose a DIA service provider (dedicated internet access), providing symmetrical access that isn’t running on a shared connection with other businesses or residences.

Fiber-Optic Growth
The fastest available connections are called FTTP (fiber to the premises), which means the entire connection is fiber-optic. Until recently, fiber was only deployed in the backbone of carriers’ networks and to a few extremely large customers. Fiber has long been known as the most reliable method for delivering data at high rates of speed. Stratus Networks has been building out a fiber network in central Illinois at a pace that could even rival what the big telecom companies such as AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink are doing in the area.

Additional Symmetrical Advantages
Another big advantage of having symmetrical connections is that it allows VoIP (voice over internet protocol), which converts voice into data packets to operate at a speed that makes calling superior to what it has ever been in the past. In additional, symmetrical network access is always needed when it comes to securely connecting to multiple business locations (i.e. a private network, MPLS).

Productivity & Competitiveness
If the speed of your network seems satisfactory today, know that this feeling won’t last for long.

The way we work and utilize technology is changing at such a rapid pace; it’s guaranteed you’ll want a faster, more reliable network solution in the near-future. At our places of business, multiple, simultaneous applications and usage will continue to grow; our spreadsheets and other files will keep getting bigger; and cloud computing will become more integrated into enterprises of all sizes.

It used to be that symmetrical internet service was something only Fortune 500 companies could enjoy, but today, companies of all sizes can tap into a reliable, fiber-based connection with a service-level agreement. If your company is seeking an edge in terms of productivity, profitability and competitiveness, one key answer may come from investigating an upgrade to a symmetrical business internet solution. iBi

John Petrakis is a co-founder of Stratus Networks, Inc., a leading national provider of data, voice and Internet services to all sizes of businesses and government agencies, headquartered in Peoria Heights.