Your business’ Internet connection is an often a forgotten element of your business: like the water or electricity supply.  In fact, there has been talk of the UK Government classing broadband as a public utility for the nation.
 
The analogy is quite apt in fact, as the failure of any of those three utilities can be disruptive to your business.  The key question then becomes … what would you do if it happened?  First consider the potential impact.  
 
If your water supply fails, you lose the ability to hydrate your staff, toilets fail to flush and risk becoming a health hazard.  But the water company has contingency plans for this. UK water companies provide at least 10 litres of water per person per day within the first 24 hours and it continues until the piped supply resumes. They may do this by providing bottled water or through bowsers or stand pipes.  But that won’t help if your business uses water in its operation … at that point, the lack of water supply would disrupt your business.
 
If your electricity supply fails, you can’t run machinery, computers, lights, air conditioning, and a range of other equipment.  As with water, electricity companies have contingency plans … in the UK they must restore power within 12 hours (during normal weather conditions, longer if severe) or start paying compensationBut that can still brings your business to a standstill, but what of your active equipment, servers, network switches and the like.  Are they protected?
 
Now we can consider your Internet connection.  When you chose your provider, did you choose the cheapest tariff you could find?  You might have upgraded the connection speed, but did you consider the SLA?  The repair time if it were to fail?  Many of the cheaper Internet connections have ‘best endeavours’ SLA’s, with no fixed time-frame for repair.  What would that do to you?
 
Access to the web would instantly stop, along with emails being sent or received.  If your organisation uses Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) for communication, that will stop.  But think further … what other systems need Internet access?  Do you share documents with clients through Dropbox, GoogleDrive or OneDrive?  That’s out of action, does that stop part of your business working?  R&D?  Or your Design department?  Is your accounting software held in the cloud?  That’s out of reach for now too.
 
Hopefully it’s clear that the loss of Internet access could have a major impact on many businesses … greater than possibly you realised.  But the news isn’t all bad.  Now that the potential risk and consequence has been identified, you can draft contingency plans.
 
Your needs will depend on your business, but ask your ISP about fix-time SLA’s.  Finding out the situation you’re in now is the first step.  It may be your existing situation is adequate, in which case the consideration is complete as an activity.  If it’s not adequate, then you can consider options.  Backup internet connections are one avenue, be that cable, ADSL/SDSL, satellite, wireless … there’s a range of options (unfortunately slightly out of scope for this post) but a quick Google can help identify your options.  Or consider bringing some cloud services back in-house.  This method reduces the impact of Internet access failure, but increases your internal IT requirements As always in business continuity planning, there is no one answer that meets everyone’s needs.
 
A final piece of advice … don’t always go for the cheapest option with Internet access.  ‘Best value’ means the best combination of benefits for you, for the price.  That is, unfortunately, rarely the cheapest option out there.
 
If you would like personal advice or guidance, please get in touch and one of our consultants would be glad to help.