Internet services & some basic considerations for your practice

In this episode of PodMD, Rob Horn from 1Cloud Voice & Data will be discussing the topic of internet services and the basic considerations for your practice, including the types of internet services available through NBN and elsewhere, the things you should consider for your practice, the pros and cons for sharing an internet service and much more.

This podcast is brought to you by 1Cloud Voice & Data. 1Cloud Voice & Data is a retail Telecommunications Service Provider specialising in the supply, management, billing and support of business telecommunications services to business clients across Australia. 1Cloud seeks to provide customised solutions that meets with their business customers initial telecommunication needs, whilst also taking into consideration their potential future growth and operational changes.

You can get in touch with 1Cloud Voice & Data via their website.

  • Transcript
    Please note this is a machine generated transcription and may contain some errors.
    *As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.

    Today I’d like to welcome to the PodMD studio Rob Horn from 1Cloud Voice & Data.

    1Cloud Voice & Data is a retail Telecommunications Service Provider specialising in the supply, management, billing and support of business telecommunications services to business clients across Australia. 1Cloud seeks to provide customised solutions that meets with their business customers initial telecommunication needs, whilst also taking into consideration their potential future growth and operational changes.

    Rob is the Service Delivery Manager at 1Cloud, and in that role he helps to oversee the project management and provisioning of new business services for their clients.

    Today we’ll be discussing the topic of internet services & some basic considerations for your practice

    *The information provided within this podcast is general in nature, and 1Cloud recommends speaking with a business telecommunications specialist regarding your own specific needs and requirements. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of 1Cloud Voice & Data, not PodMD.

    Rob, thanks for talking with us on PodMD today.

    Rob: Thank you for having me

    Question 1
    So Rob, I am guessing that there is much more to understand about internet services, before we can really make an informed decision about what may work best for our business. Can you please give us a bit of an overview on this?

    Rob: That’s right Peter, apart from having an understanding of the various internet technology types that are currently available, it is important to have a fundamental grasp on what the core differences are between these services. Then, you will in a much better position to select a service type that will be able to handle the requirements of your practice.

    Most problems that we see, is the use of an internet service that is not capable of meeting the business needs, and of course that can lead to frustration, inefficiencies and added costs to the practice. Whether that was due to a wrong decision being made from the outset, or simply that the business requirements and usage have since changed and now outgrown the particular internet service that is in place.

    Remembering, that we now, not only require an internet service to carry our usual computer data, such as emails, data files, videos, backups etc., but we also rely on it to be able to carry our IP Telephony voice data in order to hold a phone call at the same time everything else is happening on that connection. So having the right internet services in place has never been as important as it is now.

    Question 2
    But we have the NBN internet now, so isn’t that good enough for us all to be able to run our entire practice over?

    Rob: Well yes, in most instances where there is a small practice with limited data and bandwidth usage, and low reliability requirements, then a single standard grade NBN internet service could possibly be capable of running the business data and IP voice services over.
    However, this may also depend upon what NBN technology type is being used at a particular business location, as there are some bandwidth speed limitations, and reliability issues, between the varying NBN technologies that have been used by NBN across the country.

    Question 3
    Ok, so you have mentioned a standard grade and differing technology types, therefore it would appear that the NBN internet does not come in one flavour. Can you possibly give us a brief run-down on what these differences may be?

    Rob: Well that is a rather large subject, and without trying to make it to overly technical, let us first clarify that the NBN internet service that you use at home, could be best referred to as a ‘Standard’ grade of service. That is to say, it was not built or designed with business use specifically in mind, but for sure, it has definitely provided for a much better experience than the previous ADSL Broadband technology that was superseded by the NBN.

    This standard grade NBN internet service is referred to as being Traffic Class 4, or TC4 for short. In a nut shell, these services have an Asymmetrical bandwidth – that is, your potentially available download speed is higher than your upload speed. There is also no bandwidth speed or latency (data delivery delay) assurances, and the fault attendance assurance levels are designed for residential users, meaning it could take a couple of business days to have a fault attended to, as it is not deemed to be business impacting.

    Whereas NBN have designed some Business grade internet service options that have been built with business usage in mind, and therefore can provide a much better experience for businesses. These may involve a higher Traffic Class (TC1 or TC2), as well as the addition of an Enhanced Service Level Assurance (or SLA) for fault attendance response times. Again, this will also be relative to the NBN Technology type involved and of course they also come with additional costs.

    Which brings us to the various NBN technology types that NBN use for delivering an internet service. Unfortunately, we have ended up with a few of these, and they can be summarised as:
    – Services delivered over the old copper landlines, being Fibre-to-the-Node (or FTTN) used for standalone premises, as well as the Fibre-to-the-Building (or FTTB) which will be found being used within multi-tenanted premises.
    – Services delivered over a combination of both fibre in the street, and the copper landline that runs from the external pit, then into your premises to a wall socket, which is called Fibre-to-the-Curb (or FTTC).
    – Then there is Fibre-to-the-Premises (or FTTP), which is NBN’s Standard grade fibre, that terminates to an NBN box on the wall within the premises.
    – As well as the Hybrid-Fibre-Coaxial (or HFC) that uses a coaxial cable that is run into the premises and terminates on a small NBN modem connection device.
    – Then lastly, we have the NBN Fixed Wireless that is normally found in more outer-metro and rural locations, and the NBN Skymuster Satellite internet being used in the more remote locations where the Fixed Wireless does not reach.

    Question 4
    I have read that NBN were now providing an even better business internet product, what was that service, and how does it differ from those you have just mentioned?

    Rob: Yes, that is correct Peter.
    What most people may not realise, is that NBN over the past year or more, have been progressively building out their purpose built, business grade, NBN Enterprise Ethernet product across the country. This is delivered over NBN’s business grade fibre network infrastructure, which differs completely to that used on their standard FTTP fibre technology and is not the same.

    This NBN EE service is Symmetrical – the bandwidth speeds are the same for download and upload – and it comes with several enhancements and options to better handle the data usage requirements of small to large enterprise type businesses. This is what we refer to as being a true business internet service and it is proving to be quite reliable, and of course it is much better suited for business.

    The price for this type of fibre ethernet service was four to five times higher only 2-3 years ago, and they are now well within reach of the small and medium businesses who want a reliable and capable internet service for their practice.

    Question 5
    Ok, that make is very clear that there is far more to the NBN than we first thought. So, do we only have the NBN internet to use, or are there other internet options available for our businesses?

    Rob: Yes, most definitely.
    Whilst NBN would now appear to be the more common method used for internet access, there are of course, several other non-NBN alternatives out there.
    We have other major Tier 1 Network Carriers – such as Telstra, Optus, Vocus and Pipe Networks, just to mention a few, that have their own business grade fibre ethernet network infrastructure in place. Though you will tend to find that access to these types of fibre ethernet services will be found in the major city and metro areas rather than in the regional areas, and it is subject to the actual site being qualified for service delivery. Once again, these are internet services that are delivered into the business premises using fibre. They have various symmetrical bandwidth options, unlimited data usage and have been designed to meet business usage requirements.

    In addition, there are also Network Carriers offering Fixed Wireless internet services over their own network infrastructure that can come with various bandwidth options, including symmetrical bandwidth options specifically for business use. These are good for servicing locations that have a substandard fixed line NBN internet service, or for those businesses looking to add an additional internet service that uses a different network carrier technology to provide for a backup and redundancy for their business.

    Finally, we have the 4G/5G mobile broadband internet, which of course operates over either the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone mobile carrier networks. These are most definitely a strong recommendation for every small to medium business as a backup or redundancy internet connection, for when their main internet connection is offline.

    Whilst the 5G network is still being rolled out and not yet available in all areas, we do still have access to the 4G network in most locations. And keep in mind, that you also require a 5G capable router device to be able to access the 5G network frequencies and those higher bandwidth speeds. There are some limitations though, such as the bandwidth is never assured and it will vary, it can be congested if the nearby tower is being oversubscribed by users, and of course the amount of available data and the cost of data usage on these mobile broadband services is still quite high compared to other forms of internet access.

    Question 6
    So there appears that are quite a lot of differing options that are no doubt better suited to certain situations and requirements?

    Rob: Yes, that is quite right, and it does get quite technical when trying to ascertain exactly what a practice’s requirements may be, and then looking at matching that to an internet service and or combination of internet service types to meet those needs.
    Not to mention the various IT devices and equipment that will be required, then configured, and supported in order to deliver those services. So once again, we would strongly urge your listeners to speak with a professional who can break down these various options and present them in layman terms, so that they may then make a well-informed decision.

    Question 7
    We sometimes have clients who have been offered to ‘share’ an internet service within a premises or complex. Is that a good idea or are there potential pitfalls in doing this type of setup?

    Rob: Well, in some circumstances that may be a good solution and it could work well. However, from our past experiences we normally see these types of arrangements creating a problem at some point in time.

    One of the key issues is around network security. If it is not setup correctly, your data is potentially accessible to other parties who are on that same internal network and of course there is the potential for external network hackers to gain access via devices being used by other businesses.
    In addition, your experience could be degraded if the usage of that same internet connection, by the other parties who are also sharing, happen to be over utilising the available bandwidth. Then when there are problems, you must deal with the party and their IT departments, who ultimately owns, supplies, and manages that service, so you never really have any direct control over the internet service you are using.

    It is really for these reasons, that we would recommend that practices should seek to have their own internet and infrastructure to ensure that they have full control and management of their own services and the associated costs. Being the master and commander of your own destiny as they say.

    Question 8
    Ok, and what are some of the key factors that a practice should be taking into consideration when deciding upon what type of internet connection, or connections, may be required?

    Rob: Fundamentally, it comes down to how many users, or staff, will be using the internet, and what devices – computers, phones, tablets, printers, scanners, servers, TV’s, security cameras etc. – and then what business applications will be used on that same internet connection, and if they are all being used concurrently.

    Of course, businesses and industries all differ in exactly what they need internet for and how they use their internet services.
    Some medical practices can be very light users with minimal data usage and minimal bandwidth requirements for real time applications. Whereas some others may have quite large image files to be transferred, or hold regular video conferencing and file uploading combined with high volumes of IP phone calls, and have sensitive real-time applications that require a higher speed, with low latency and an assured data packet throughput rate.

    Therefore, it is very important to engage with both a professional IT consultant and your Internet provider to ensure that they can provide you with the best advice having assessed your entire needs and requirements.

    Question 9
    That has been a very informative general overview, Rob. So, can you possibly give us a quick summary of the key points our listeners can to take from today’s discussion?

    Rob: Certainly. I suppose today’s key take outs would be….
    Fully understand your needs.
    A standard grade NBN internet service may be suitable for some small practices out there, with say 1-6 users, but then also factor in exactly what you need your internet service to be able to carry. As that is when you may need to make the step up to an internet service that has been purposely designed for business use. It may cost more, but then what is the true cost of efficiency and in eliminating lost time.

    Be informed.
    Take some time to consider the differing internet technology types, including the reliability of the technology type being used, as well as any fault response time enhancement options that may be available. And remember, that the cheapest does not always equate to being the best option in business.

    Think redundancy.
    We all rely on internet more than ever these days, and having a single internet service with no form or backup or redundancy in place for when your main internet service is offline, is simply bad business practice.

    Seek professional advice.
    Whilst most of us are probably good at setting up our home internet and devices at home, that does not necessarily make us experts at setting up a business network and internet service that will best function to our needs.

    Even the type of hardware devices, such as routers, firewalls, switches, Wi-Fi access points etc., will have a great deal of impact on your internet experience.

    Understanding the exact differences in internet technologies, the various options available is quite complex and does require expert knowledge.
    So please do speak with your IT and Service Provider to utilise their expertise and gain a better understanding prior to your making any decisions, as it will save you time and money.

    Thanks again for your time and the insight’s you’ve provided.

    Rob: Thank you

*As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.