Fast internet speed is essential to conducting business in today’s competitive marketplace. The speed of a company’s internet can have a substantial impact on its operations and overall success. Slow internet connections may occur for various reasons, even when you are paying for a high-speed connection such as DSL or cable. Because the internet is built on hundreds of different technologies trying to talk to one another, there are many places where data can slow down before it reaches your computer screen. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) might be at fault, certainly, but there are other factors to have your IT company look at before assigning blame.

Your actual upload and download speeds may vary depending on a number of different things such as your computer hardware, what applications you are using, the distance of your business from your ISP, and the quality of connection available in your area. Older internet access methods like those delivered over copper or coaxial cable tend to operate at lower speeds, while fiber-based connections are much faster and now widely available.

Another large factor that affects internet speed is the number of people using your connection and what they are doing. If you have ten employees uploading or downloading large video files at the same time, then you’ll be placing a lot of demand (or using bandwidth) on your internet connection, compared to having two or three employees who are just sending emails. The amount of speed that makes sense for your business will typically depend on how many people work for you and what they use the internet for.

There’s no doubt businesses have more tools than ever before; however, these tools often generate huge amounts of data, meaning companies require a certain amount of bandwidth to work effectively. Storing and protecting this data, especially if you’re working in the cloud, can really slow your business. Fast Internet allows employees to quickly utilize cloud applications, a key area of productivity growth for companies across the world.

Unfortunately, many companies are already suffering due to slow Internet. In fact, a SanDisk study found the average company employee wastes approximately a week’s worth of time each year due to slow computer networks, with slow upload and download speeds being one of the main contributing factors.

These problems might be why fiber connections for businesses are rapidly growing. With a fiber-optic Internet connection directly to your business, you can help increase your company’s profit, productivity, collaboration and customer satisfaction. In 2004, just 10 percent of commercial buildings had access to high-speed fiber Internet connections. Since then, the fiber-penetration rate basically quadrupled to 42.5 percent (as of 2014). There’s wide recognition that fast Internet is the future of business, and this penetration rate is only expected to climb.

Currently, the fastest available connection is “fiber to the premises” (FTTP). That means every inch of the connection is fiber-optic cable. Fiber to the node (FTTN), to compare, means that the connection to the network box in your neighborhood is fiber, but the last mile connected to your building may be direct wire or coaxial cable. Both FTTP and FTTN connections are significantly faster than DSL connections, which get slower speeds the further away you are from your ISP.

The major advantages of having the fastest connection possible include both the speed and ease of use of services like Hosted VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which let you collaborate with customers and offsite employees in real time. A fast connection also makes it quick and easy to use cloud apps and services, and to backup your data to the cloud. Many businesses are able to save costs and work more effectively by using cloud-based storage for files which can be easily monitored, backed up, or updated as needed.

No matter what the speed of your connection is today, you can be sure that the amount of internet speed you will need in the future is only going to increase. Even if your business is not growing directly because of these technologies today, the way we work and use the internet is changing. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets means many of us are online these days with multiple, simultaneous connections. Files are getting bigger all the time and the growth of cloud computing means that businesses of all kinds are putting more and more of their functions, everything from billing to HR, on the internet. A high-speed fiber connection can affordably give your business the bandwidth it needs to do all those things as fast, or faster than your competitors.

An experienced IT service company like Enterprise Computing Services can provide the necessary diagnostics and upgrades to your internet connection if your business could use a boost. Just because you are paying for a certain type of connection does not guarantee your results, and ECS can figure out what customized services your business should be investing in to gain the most competitive advantages possible.