Checking Internet Speeds Before You Sign A Lease
Before you consider signing a lease for an office space, be sure to call internet service providers and ask about what service packages and options are available for that address. One side of the street may have high speed, and the other may be painfully slow and out of date. We’ve seen it happen more than once. Please do not assume the office space you are ready to sign on has a decent internet connection. Call and confirm internet speed options with multiple providers, using the postal code for your new office. (Get more great office moving tips here.)
If the internet signal is insufficient, your cost to break your new lease and move again will be great.
Your cost to bring in faster cable internet (if available in your area) will be great.
Your cost to bring in fibre internet (if available in your area) will be great. And this is a complex build project, requiring Municipal Consents & Locates. Expect a 3-6 month timeline. There are also hefty installation fees. You would be locked in to a term of 3 or 5 years. Finally, the monthly fees are quite high, ranging from $800-1200/month for a dedicated network (not shared), depending on the speed and length of term chosen.
But do you need a dedicated circuit? Great question. Keep scrolling.
Choosing Internet Speed For Your Business
Dedicated vs Shared Circuits
Dedicated circuit means only your business is using that circuit, and the high cost reflects that. Dedicated circuits are intended for heavy use, highly internet dependent clients. The high cost usually comes with a 4 hour guaranteed response time from the ISP should your internet go down.
A shared circuit is what the majority of us are on, meaning our business is sharing the internet circuit with neighbouring businesses.
So which do you need? Well, it depends on your business and usage.
Regular Vs Heavy Usage
Regular usage is internet browsing and email use. Heavy usage includes video streaming or conferencing, heavy multimedia streaming or large file uploads to the cloud.
Usage & Circuit Examples
Many small businesses have internet speeds of 30 -100MBps on a shared circuit. That means your ISP has you and other customers sharing internet pipeline.
A 30 MBps plan will cost $75-$100/month. 30 MBps on a shared circuit would be sufficient for a team of 5 people with regular use. That does not include any heavy use activities, which would require more bandwidth.
For a medium sized enterprise with heavy use such as uploading large files regularly, or frequent multimedia streaming such as watching Youtube or videos online, 30 – 50 MBps would not suffice. You would need 100 MBps upload and download speeds on a dedicated circuit. That means it is not a shared network like cable internet. Something like that would cost $700- $1000/month and includes a service level agreement. This means if your connection goes down, a technician from your internet service provider is on site within 4 hours. It’s also more likely that you will consistently get your advertised speed, because you are not sharing your connection with other businesses.
Now, 100 MBps is fast right? Fast enough for your team, right? Well, perhaps. Perhaps not. A single Netflix stream will take up 10 MBps of available bandwidth. For a team of 10 users with heavy use activities daily, even 100MBps can be slow. A faster connection would be required. Plans with 150-200 MBps on a dedicated circuit will range from $1250-$1475/month.
You can opt for a non dedicated shared circuit through a service such as Bell Fibe, and get approximately 300MBps for roughly $200/month, but the uptime and bandwidth is not guaranteed, and there are no service level agreements in place should your connection go down.
We hope this helps you understand your daily use so that you can buy the internet speed you need for day to day work in your office.
Understanding WiFi Signal Issues
Your internet service provider and package determine your internet and WiFi speed. You can extend WiFi signal to cover a larger area, but you can’t necessarily make the signal “bigger” or faster.
Your Wifi signal can only reach a few feet beyond your modem – 10-100 or so, depending on the model. Any employee outside the radius will not have WiFi. Those on the fringe of the radius will have intermittent WiFi. If any one user in the radius is hogging the WiFi with heavy use, they will choke out all other users, unless you have user restriction programming in place.
Signal repeaters are one advertised solution, however they are limited in what they can do, and we never recommend or install them.
Wireless access points are another solution, and these can extend your WiFi signal further. Access points can make WiFi “faster” for users at the end or beyond your current WiFi signal boundary. So instead of only getting 100 feet of WiFi signal area, you can get 5,000 feet or more. We install WiFi solutions using access points for small and mid sized companies in Toronto. Feel free to schedule your consultation for a personalized solution.
Cabled connections will always be faster than WiFi. If team members are frequently uploading or downloading large files, this will throttle your WiFi bandwidth, and you should consider hard ethernet connections. This is especially applicable to architects offices, graphics, media and video companies etc.
If you have many users or devices connecting at once, this can saturate your WiFi. Just the act of being connected puts load on your WiFi signal. Consider ethernet connections or wired WiFi access points throughout the office.
Ethernet connections can run you approximately $200 per line installed. WiFi solutions with wired access points would start at approximately $2200 for up to 4000-5000 square feet. Larger installations would increase in price. Some brands for consideration are Open Mesh and Meraki.
Concrete & Steel WiFi Blockers
If your office space has concrete or steel blocking the router signal path to your intended users, you will not have signal. Router placement and access point placement should take this into consideration. Even placing your router inside a wood or MDF cabinet can block your signal enough to give you poor results.
Finally, keep in mind that WiFi is a “shared” connection. So if your wifi router advertises that it is capable of 300 MBps, that is 300 MBps shared with everyone connected. And it isn’t shared evenly unless you have advanced Quality Of Service settings programmed in place. A single user can monopolize the entire WiFi connection leaving little to none left for other users. Programming matters. Placement matters. User behaviour matters. A good setup should be based on your needs, and is often worth a consultation with a professional.
We hope this helps you understand the limits of routers and WiFi, and the options you have to extend your signal.
Most importantly, we want you to always call to confirm internet options in an office space before you commit to a lease or purchase.
Toronto WiFi & Network Setup Services
We are TUCU- a Toronto IT Support Company delivering network and IT solutions to small business since 2003. Services include network design, server and network setup services, WiFi solutions and more. Browse our service pages to learn more or get in touch today to schedule your personalized IT Consultation.