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Excavator Digging Up Cables

Should Your Business Have a Redundant Internet Connection?

Updated: January 24, 2022

Due to ever-increasing reliance on the internet, many businesses have implemented or are considering a secondary, redundant internet connection.

Having a failover is particularly important if your voice traffic flows through your internet connection and if most of your mission-critical business applications are cloud-based.

What’s Needed For A Redundant Internet Connection

A redundant internet connection requires two components:

  • A secondary internet service provider that offers service to your building or campus
  • A router with the right capabilities and proper software configuration

Once a redundant internet connection is set up and properly configured, your business will get the combined bandwidth of Provider #1 and Provider #2. If one connection goes down, the other will continue to work in a backup mode. Your company’s network will still be connected to the outside world.

Last Mile Disruptions

Redundancy is maximized when the last mile of a business’s two internet service providers are on divergent paths. In other words, connections from the two providers enter a building or campus from different directions. A combination of fixed wireless and cable delivered service qualifies.

Data centers are typically located in areas that have divergent internet service paths. Some companies intentionally locate their business in areas with divergent paths.

Middle Mile Disruptions

Beyond the last mile, and along the path of the much “longer” middle mile, having two internet connections protects businesses from a disruption to their valuable connection to the outside world.

For underground cables, a cut by an excavator shovel is the biggest threat to internet service. Moles are also known to have an appetite for fiber optic cables. Cable vandalization has occurred.

Reason For a Redundant Internet Connection
Photo by @bdeckqueen via Twitter

For above ground cables, there are also multiple factors that can create an internet outage:

  • A vehicle plowing into a telephone pole
  • A windstorm
  • An ice storm
  • A fire
  • An earthquake

On December 20, 2017, thousands of California state workers lost internet service for most of the day when a downtown Sacramento construction project clipped a fiber optic cable that supports their offices. Several public services were also affected.

With two, separate “middle miles”, a business is protected from these types of events.

ISP Hardware or Software Problems

It’s possible that an internet service provider can have a major technical outage. An example is the widespread Comcast DNS failure of 2015 that affected large swathes of Northern California and Washington State.

Internet service providers have gotten better at preventing this type of large-scale issue, but it doesn’t mean that a major hardware or software failure can’t happen again.

Scattered internet service disruption and degradation is common, as tracked and reported on charts and heat maps by Downdetector. Minor outages are continually reported on social media.

A Redundant Internet Connection: An Ounce of Prevention

Internet service is less expensive than ever. A second internet connection, a router with the right capabilities and some configuration time is inexpensive insurance that protects from an event that could grind the productivity of most employees in your office to a halt.

When it comes to internet service, it’s best for business customers to keep their options open by working with more than one ISP.

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