How to avoid the headaches of sourcing internet connectivity

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Internet connectivity, which is often considered a ubiquitous commodity, is actually a vital IT infrastructure for an enterprise. Like most things, there is a no one size fits all. So, it is essential to define your needs to avoid making costly mistakes.Internet connectivity requirements are growing as more and more enterprises are utilizing it for their WAN needs as SD-WAN becomes more prevalent. Gartner estimated that by 2026, 45% of the enterprise locations will use only internet services for their WAN connectivity.1 Here are five considerations you need to look at when sourcing enterprise-grade internet connectivity.

Bandwidth specifications

Don’t underestimate or overestimate your bandwidth requirements. Too little, and you will have unhappy users with web pages taking what seems like an age to load and video buffering. Too much, and you will be paying for bandwidth that isn’t being used.For some guidance, key breakpoints are 100Mb/s & 1Gb/s. This means you will get 100Mb/s of bandwidth from the get-go, but you can extend to 1 Gb/s. If you need more than 1 Gb/s, you will need a 10 Gb/s bearer. So, you need to consider seasonal peaks, for example, alongside expansion plans, and invest in the largest bearer the company can afford while having some confidence that it will be utilised in the future.

Availability needs 

Clearly, all organizations need connectivity that supports applications and overall business operations. Different technologies and products, however, require individual availabilities. Categorizing a site in business availability can help you decide the level of availability you need.  SD-WAN and your edge networking service can combine multiple links to provide an overall high availability for site access, so if one route experiences difficulties, SD-WAN can rapidly and automatically route the traffic to the next best link available. 

Usage requirement 

You need to understand what you will be using your connection for before you can draw up a short list. Usage can range from collaboration and communications to an underlay for SD-WAN. A poor underlay will result in disappointing Application Quality of Experience (APPQoE). 
Although most Internet connection types can serve the majority of Internet usage requirements, some are more suited than others, with better performance and availability being the key differentiators.  
Where internet connectivity is to replace MPLS, you should consider enterprise-grade internet access. It should offer robust international peering and access to hyper scalers such as Microsoft Azure and AWS cloud computing services within the provider’s network. 

Pricing structure

It is essential to understand how much budget is available for connections fully. It is natural to seek cheaper services, especially when domestic broadband services look exceptional value per Mb/s. But this might not be the best approach when it comes to continuity, performance, and security. Enterprise connectivity, after all, is more expensive for these very reasons. It is also important to remember that connectivity prices vary across different regions. 
How much you should pay depends on your requirements and business usage. Seek out a service that balances the best value with being fit-for-purpose in providing your business with the reliability and speed it demands. 

Understanding the providers and sourcing models

What type of providers to source your internet connectivity from can be a jungle. The quality offered by in-country telecom providers is crucial. A country’s leading national telecom provider is often a sensible choice as they usually have the best portfolio of capabilities, but often there are relevant alternative from competitive providers with a different price points.
There are also different sourcing models to consider. Your organization could purchase directly from providers in each country or contract directly with a single telecoms company that will provide its own connectivity alongside that of other providers as part of a single contracted package with one point of contact. 
It is important to understand the benefits each provider is making and what they bring to your business before making a decision.

[1] Gartner Network Services Global
Magic Quadrant 2023