Over the years, we have opened a new office multiple times and there are always three things that get lined up first - our internet service, our phone service and a security system. We truly cannot function without the first two and the last is another step in securing our data.
The easiest one to set up is the phone system. You figure out how many lines you think you need, call the phone company, sign a bazillion year contract and off you go. Or maybe not. Phone companies simply charge you for the phone lines and local and long distance/international services. You still need to purchase phones to use with those phone lines and figure out what to do about an automated phone system. Check with your computer or IT consultant to see if they have suggestions for a VOIP phone system utilizing your internet connection. Typically, you can get a VOIP system for about the same price as the phone company without a 5 year contract and more features.
Not all security breeches come from outside hackers trying to get into your server. Some are caused by an employee or ex-employee coming in after hours or a random thief phishing for information and then breaking in. If you are not in a shared office building with a security system already in place, you should really consider budgeting for a security system. A lot of times your security system will use regular phone lines, an internet connection or sometimes even a cell phone connection to communicate. Find a good reputable security provider and check their options for the communication of the system
Now that you've pinpointed any extra bandwidth needs from your phone system and/or security system, it's time to consider your internet provider. Based on the amount of applications and uses for the internet in recent years, broadband is the only way to go and you generally have 3 options:
- T1 or fiber from a telephone company.
- DSL from a telephone company.
- Cable modem or fiber from the local cable company.
I know that DSL is much cheaper than the other options, but it runs on the regular old fashioned copper lines. When the phones go down, so does your internet. A T1 or fiber from a telephone company usually requires a lengthy contract and is pretty expensive. In my opinion, the best deal is on a cable modem or fiber connection from your local cable company. When you deal with their commercial division, you will typically still need to sign a 1-3 year contract for the best price, but the service is generally more reliable. You also get better customer service when you find your local sales rep and account coordinator. If you have an outside computer consultant, you will want to have them help you determine how much bandwidth you need. Let them know if your security system will be using the internet connection, if you are getting a VOIP phone system, how many employees you have, and what software you have on the web. Any other uses you have for the internet (like a cyber cafe for customers) will help them advise you on bandwidth. With a cable modem or DSL, it's easy to upgrade, but with a T1 or fiber it's a little more involved. And finally, if you are using the internet for everything, get a secondary internet connection. If it will cost your company $1000's of dollars an hour to be unproductive, spend an extra $50-100 a month for back-up internet. No cable, fiber, or T1 provider guarantees 100% uptime, so be prepared. If your primary internet is a cable modem, get a back-up DSL account. If you have fiber, get a T1. It doesn't need to be the same amount of bandwidth, but it should be a different provider. You don't need your backup to be full bandwidth, but have enough for essential services to be working; it's better than being at a complete standstill! For more tips for opening a new office, see all the articles in this series:
- Three Things to Think About Before Opening A New Law Office
- Opening a New Office – What Do You REALLY Want?
- Computer Peripherals for Your New Office
- Opening Your New Office – Phone, Internet & Security Systems
- Opening Your New Office - Your Minimum Online Presence - Web & Email Hosting
Jen Steed writes about technology, travel and more. You can find her writing for various online and print publications. To talk to Jen or see all of her articles as they are published, you can follow Jen on Google+.