What is an Ethernet First Mile or EFM business broadband connection?
An Ethernet First Mile, or EFM, is a type of business connection that finds a middle ground between the expensive options of having a leased line and having fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection in your business.
It is an extremely popular type of data connection, predominantly used by small or mid-size businesses that cannot justify the considerable expense of having a leased line in their premises. An EFM connection shares many of the benefits of a leased line connection, such as having symmetrical upload and download speeds. It also shares some benefits with fibre connections, such as the connection being more reliable and durable.
How does an Ethernet First Mile or EFM connection work?
The way an Ethernet First Mile connection works differs tremendously from both the FTTP connection and a leased line fibre connection. The most significant difference that can be found is in the fact that EFM does not use fibre. Instead, it is a new way of utilising the often already existing copper cabling present in your business.
Once you have agreed to set up an EFM connection for your business, your network provider will need to come in and proceed with the installation. They will use the copper pairs available to combine them into one more resilient connection as part of the installation.
The usual number of copper pairs used in an EFM connection ranges from two to four. This means that even if one of the copper pairs becomes faulty, your connection will continue working, albeit it will most likely work at a much slower speed as the connection will be impaired.
In a way, this solves one of the most common problems found in copper connections: their unreliability caused by the high percentage of them that gets damaged. At the same time, because this type of connection utilises the existing copper cables and does not require the lengthy installation of new fibre to your premises, it might be that your new EFM connection will be ready to use quicker than a fibre connection might have been.
This is because fibre installation can often be complicated if there is no infrastructure already in place. Therefore installation heavily depends on the existing infrastructure found in your area.
What are some of the benefits of Ethernet First Mile?
There are many benefits to using an EFM business broadband connection, but those benefits can often be relative to your business size and needs.
There is no hiding that the most significant benefit an Ethernet First Mile connection has over a fibre leased line connection is the cost. Leased lines can often be expensive to install, and they tend to have high operating costs. This is because their monthly pricing and rate are often determined by both the speed of the connection and the length of the leased line.
If a business requires a leased line that covers a greater distance, then that is likely to cost more than a shorter line. These costs might be necessary if you are running a big enterprise or need a private and secure connection running through your facilities. If that is the case for your business, then you can click here to read a comparison of different leased lines offered by providers, or you can click here to get a quote for your business’ leased line.
But, in most small or mid-size businesses, the connection needs are much lower than that. While a fibre leased line has its benefits in terms of speed and security, spending a few hundred pounds on your business’ internet connection might be an expense that is not required. If that is the case for your business, then you might want to consider opting for an EFM connection. Depending on your area and the distance your EFM connection will need to cover, having an EFM connection might prove a far cheaper option.
2. Dedicated Internet Access and Consistency
One of the benefits of an EFM connection over a fibre to the premises connection is a dedicated internet access line. Much like a leased line, an EFM connection does not share its infrastructure with other connections. This means that your connection will be unaffected by user patterns in your area.
Suppose reliability and knowing that your connection is private is important to you. In that case, an EFM line might be the way to go as it allows you to still get that benefit of having dedicated internet access through your cable lines.
Having dedicated access to your internet connection means that there is also more consistency in your connection. Because there is no contention for the usage of your bandwidth and instead the entirety of your connection and lines are reserved for you, there is less variation in the latency and speed of your connection. For many businesses having a consistent connection that they can rely on is often more important than having higher speeds.
This is because your internet’s reliability can often affect how quick and easy it is for you to assist your clients. For more business owners, the last thing you want is for your internet connection to drop right when you need to use it to access your data or process a POS payment. This might be one of the essential benefits of having an EFM connection, as reliability in your connection can allow your business to grow and can assist you in keeping your clients satisfied.
As with leased lines, EFM also has a security benefit attached to them because of the lack of contention. This means that because your EFM is dedicated solely to your business, there is less chance of data being intercepted by other users. This is because there are no other users with a connection to your infrastructure.
You are using the same infrastructure. For businesses dealing with sensitive data, having that extra security buffer can be a great way of ensuring that there will be no data breaches. Of course, having an EFM connection is only one step for you to take towards achieving greater cyber security. If you would like to find out more about how you can secure your business and connection, you can read our article on cyber security by clicking here.
4. Symmetrical Connection
Another benefit of using an EFM connection, which also exists in leased lines, is that your connection will be symmetrical. This means that both your upload and your download speed will be equal. This is not the case with most fibre to the premises connections, where even though the bandwidth and the speed of the connection are incredibly high, that speed is mostly related to your download speed, while the upload speed often lags behind.
Depending on your business needs, your upload speed could often be equally important as your download speed. For example, use cloud services for many aspects of managing your business and even to cover your communication needs. You might find that having an upload speed leads to you being unable to upload the documents you need to upload within a reasonable timeframe.
With EFM, that will not be a problem, as your connection will be symmetrical, and therefore you will be able to upload documents as quickly as you are downloading them. If you would like to learn more about upload speed and its relation to your business needs, you can click here.
Another benefit of EFM connections depends heavily on your area and connection. Depending on where you are located, EFM connections could be much quicker to install. This means that if you wanted to switch from your existing connection into a new EFM connection, then installing your new lines is likely to be faster than installing brand-new fibre lines.
This is because EFM usually utilises the copper lines that are already available in your area. The infrastructure in your area can heavily affect both the cost of having an EFM connection and the availability of such a connection.
Using an EFM line for your business could lead to you having a reliable, secure internet connection at what is frequently a lower cost. Of course, this is heavily dependent on your area, the infrastructure already available, and the availability of EFM in your area by internet providers.
This is why it might be helpful to to check with your internet provider if this is an option available to you and at what pricing to determine whether making the switch will truly be beneficial.
Are there any downsides to using an EFM connection?
Admittedly, it might appear as if using an Ethernet First Mile connection is the best of both worlds. Lower costs than leased line, while at the same time providing you with a private, secure and symmetrical internet connection. Still, that does not mean that there isn’t a downside to having such a connection.
Largely, that downside comes in the form of bandwidth or speed. Most EFM lines tend to have a maximum speed of 35Mb/s, while fibre-optic connections can deliver speeds ranging from 100Mb/s to 10Gb. Of course, the exact speed of your fibre connection will depend on your provider, the connection you have chosen for your business, and the area you are in.
Still, even the lowest fibre-optic speed you might have will be almost three times higher than the highest EFM connection widely available.
Depending on the business sector you are in, those speeds might be a deal-breaker. While, if you are working in a small business that only requires internet access for research or access to a cloud, the speed of 35 Mb/s might not only be acceptable, but it could also be more than you require. If you are working in tech, or are running an online store or business, those speeds will simply not suffice.
Not surprisingly for most business owners, speed is often a deciding factor when choosing the internet connection they will use in their business. Overpaying for speed that you will not use does not make sense, as you are paying for a package that you are not utilising. But, paying for less than what you need can often be the worst decision you make. If several employees are working on your premises and none of them can carry out their tasks because your bandwidth connection is too low, then not only will you be unsuccessful in growing your business, but you also won’t be utilising your employees’ full capabilities.
This is why it is crucial that you carefully consider your business’s exact needs before making such a decision.
If you would like to learn more about determining your business’ bandwidth requirements, we suggest that you read the following article by clicking here.
How can choosing an Ethernet First Mile Connection help my business grow?
One of the most critical questions in every business decision you make is how this move can help your business grow. Growth is the one way you can ensure that your business will continue being in operation and that it will continue to bring in more clients or raise more revenues. Your decision of what internet connection to go for is part of those business growing decisions, and as such, it should not be made without consideration or one that should be taken lightly.
Opting to go with an Ethernet First Mile connection can be a great way of creating the setting in which your business can grow exponentially. First of all, the lower cost of the connection means that you will not be increasing your operation costs to levels that are neither necessary nor sustainable. Keeping your cost of operations low can help you allocate your companies money towards business growing investments that will help you increase your business’ capabilities.
The reliability offered by an EFM connection can also assist you in growing your business.
This is because it will allow you to remain constantly available to your clients, and there will be no disruption to your service caused by an unreliable connection. The security it adds to your internet connection is also essential as it will allow you to continue operating without fearing as much the possibility of a data breach. All of this can assist you in running your operations more smoothly and with reliability.
Is there customer support service for EFM connections?
For Ethernet First Mile connections, most providers provide direct customer support. This can often mean that there is someone there to assist you 24/7. What’s even more critical is that usually, the lines can be monitored, which allows your provider to troubleshoot and fix your connection issues within a few hours. Of course, these are all dependant on your provider, but as a business user, you should be able to agree on a contract that allows you to have immediate customer support when that’s needed.
Is EFM a good decision for the long run?
Determining whether Ethernet First Mile is a good choice, in the long run, can be a bit tough, considering the advancements made in tech almost daily. Many believe fibre is the connection of the future and might consider that EFM might become obsolete in a few years.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that that would be the case soon. As of right now, if EFM is economically the best decision for your company, especially considering all of the benefits that it can bring on, then you should consider getting such a connection. Before signing on with your provider, you can always discuss any concerns that you may have with them, but as of right now, this type of connection remains one of the most popular types available.
Other useful links about business broadband
TalkTalk ultrafast business fibre
7 Reasons you need business wifi
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