Our work with clients has brought up many concerns and issues with their internet connectivity. There are many discussion points around networks and how they impact the quality of experience for users, but this discussion will focus just on your internet speed and some things to be aware of.
Future posts around internet connectivity will look at broadband vs fiber based offerings; where are your applications communicating to/from and how they are impacted by your download & upload speeds; how to add cost effective resiliency to your internet service if your internet connectivity is critical to your business.
As more of your applications move to the cloud, a user’s experience with those applications is impacted by your connectivity speed to the internet. I’ve encountered many issues where the client is paying for a service that should be more than adequate for their use case, but the user’s experience (especially with real-time applications like voice and video) are horrendous. The starting point, especially for Broadband service is understanding what your contracted speed is (what you’re paying for) vs. what you’re actually getting. The worst case I’ve seen is a customer that was paying for 1 gig service, but only getting 160mbs. Less than 20% of what they were paying for! To test this properly, you must remove all your network hardware and test directly from the providers modem/router. If your speed at this point is significantly below what you’ve contracted for, this is the starting point for a discussion with your provider. Depending on the provider, it can take many conversations to get them to “fix it”. BroadReach can help you work with your internet provider to get these issues resolved.
Assuming you’re getting what you’ve contracted for from your internet provider, it’s still possible for your users to experience poor application performance. The worst case I’ve come across at a client’s location was 1 gig from the provider, but less than 200mbs at the wired desktops. Often, this happens when you’ve upgraded your internet speeds over time or turned on additional security parameters in your Firewall, but weren’t informed that the Firewall capacity needs to be reviewed whenever you’re upgrading speeds or turning on new security features. In the case above where the client was losing 80% of their internet speed between the providers circuit and the user’s desktops, the customer was told by their provider that they should upgrade to a faster internet circuit (spend more money!). By simply testing before and after the Firewall it was easy to see that a faster internet circuit would not have resolved the issue. It was simply a case where the Firewall couldn’t process the raw bandwidth with all the security turned on. All the incoming internet-traffic was slowed/impacted by the undersized Firewall, and what was needed was a more powerful Firewall capable of processing the internet raw speed with all required security parameters turned on. In the case above it was an undersized Firewall, but there are other network components that can cause performance degradation.
Speaking of Firewall security parameters, hopefully your Firewall is doing deep-packet inspection, just make sure you’ve turned off deep packet inspection for your VoIP and other real-time sensitive applications or you’ll likely encounter poor voice quality.
A great free tool for testing your internet speed is Ookla. They have versions available for both desktop and mobile device OS’s. You can also pick different test points on the internet to test to. You can run it from a browser but using the free applications allows you to keep the results as a file (great for showing your internet provider). Testing from your wired desktops as well as mobile devices allows you to see the impact both your wired and WIFI networks have on your raw internet speed, and perhaps uncover other bottlenecks on your internal networks.
You can get the free Ookla apps here
You can check out BroadReach Technology Advisors here.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions or need help with any issues you are having.
You can book a time that’s convenient for you on my calendar here.