Internet Connectivity for Restaurants in the UK

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In the UK the first thing we usually need to get on top of when starting a new restaurant opening project is the telecoms. BT Openreach have an almost complete monopoly of the telephony infrastructure in the UK. Their install lead times are one thing that you cannot shorten. As a rule of thumb, you need a minimum of five weeks for analogue line installations. ADSL circuits can often take another week to go live. Consequently, this is normally the first thing to arrange and get moving when starting on a new project. This lead time can extend even further if you opt for a Leased Line connection.

As part of this process, we need to work out what Internet Provision is the most appropriate for the business. For most modest sized restaurants, bars and coffee shops VDSL, often called Fibre Broadband, is usually the best fit. That is because this is a good balance of speed and cost. Very Fast ADSL (VDSL) usually gives pretty good Internet speeds for little more than the cost of a standard ADSL circuit. The downside of this type of circuit for many of my customers is that is not available everywhere. Specifically it is often not available in central London. This leaves us the difficult choice of running on two separate ADSL circuits or going with a Leased Line, Ethernet connection.

Leased line Ethernet Internet connections are the 'creme de la creme' of Internet circuits. A few years ago they were absolutely out of reach for the budgets of restaurants. Prices of leased line circuits have come down significantly recently. That said they are still currently running at around £300 per month for a 100Mb circuit. These circuits are not asynchronous. They have the same upload and download speeds. They are more robust than DSL circuits and are usually covered by a Service Level Agreements (SLA's) that have repair times of a few hours. However, compared to the cost of VDSL circuits, which are usually around £40 or £50 per month, Leased Lines are still a significant cost to monthly overhead budgets in the hospitality market place.

DSL circuits come with much worse SLA's compared with Leased Line circuits. Essentially, the circuits can be down for three or four days before you can even chase repairs. These circuits are also susceptible to analogue line failures. Given that most hospitality venues now rely on Internet connectivity for credit card payments and sometimes hosted EPOS and Reservations systems, this would be a significant problem. For this reason, I would always advise a backup circuit when using DSL technology for Internet Connectivity. VDSL circuits are generally fast enough to cope with secure network traffic, music streaming and customer Wi-Fi traffic simultaneously. With these circuits you can often get a free or reduced priced backup ADSL circuits included.

If VDSL is not available, then two simultaneously active ADSL circuits are generally required. Several years ago you could run everything on a single ADSL circuit. But with increased bandwidth use with Customer Wi-Fi and streaming music, this is no longer a safe operating option. When using two ADSL circuits, it is generally a good idea to use one circuit for the secure network and mission critical services like credit card and EPOS devices. The other circuit can then be used for Customer Wi-Fi and music streaming. Unfortunately, due to the speed restrictions of ADSL, even splitting the circuits up is not always trouble free at times of peak bandwidth.

Some new buildings and retail environments have their own shared circuits or third party fibre providers. In these areas, BT Openreach services are often not available at all.

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MWDC Service Provision

"The above article is by no means a full discussion of all the ins and outs of Internet Circuits. It really just briefly outlines the key circuits, and circuit decisions, that I deal with most often when arranging Internet Service Provisions for my clients. If you would like to discuss anything with me in more detail, feel free to drop me an email or give me a call. "