In 2017, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of bandwidth to our world today. In this globalized, information-intensive economy, bandwidth is like the digital equivalent of electricity or water – a basic necessity that we need in order to get through some of our most fundamental day-to-day routines.
The capacity to deliver that bandwidth to when and where it is needed, at any given time, is business critical for today’s enterprises. Everything from cloud and mobile to big data and the IoT need a high-quality, reliable and consistent bandwidth infrastructure to run underneath it all.
Consider this: just recently, Gartner revealed that enterprise network traffic is expected to double every 2.9 years. How can these same enterprises expect to remain functional, let alone competitive, without the bandwidth to match those needs? Or, what about in the event of a disaster recovery, where flexible and easily scalable bandwidth is necessary for providing real-time data backups?
Carriers must be prepared to support enterprises’ constant and growing demand for high-bandwidth networks at all times. Here are three ways that carriers can do so, and support the exploding level of on-demand connectivity for U.S. businesses.
Provide flexible and real-time connectivity
Historically, carriers have been limited in two ways from achieving this.
The first is infrastructure. In the past, the network infrastructure put in place could not scale up to enterprises’ bandwidth demands if the carrier did not go on site to physically make a change or swap boxes. This is a costly, slow and inefficient way to scale up bandwidth. But, infrastructure vendors today empower carriers with new infrastructure that can scale from low to high bandwidth (up to 10Gbps and higher) without needing to go on site and make physical changes, improving speed and reducing cost.
The second limitation: outdated, 1990s-era internal systems tech (OSS/BSS), that were not built with end-to-end automation in mind. With modernized infrastructure and a streamlined approach to managing connectivity in place, carriers can then provision variable levels of bandwidth – per the enterprise’s demands – in real time and across as many on-net data centers, partners or other locations as is necessary.
Empower enterprises with variable, short-term demands for high-bandwidth applications
The capacity to provide variable amounts of high bandwidth is key for managing the customer-carrier relationship. Failure to provide high bandwidth when called upon can be very damaging to that relationship and prompt the enterprise to find a different carrier. In fact, this idea of not being able to provide bandwidth to customers shouldn’t even be an acceptable part of the carrier’s business model.
Carriers should always position themselves as always capable of delivering on customers’ bandwidth needs. If you’re in a position where your network isn’t capable of fulfilling this promise, then you need to revisit the current state of your infrastructure and align with a provider that can fill in the gaps in your ability to deliver flexible, high-quality bandwidth.
Offer affordable bandwidth with both traditional and pay-per-use models
No matter the business or industry, one principle always remains true: customers like choice. They want flexibility and don’t want to be locked into one way of doing things forever. The enterprise-carrier relationship is the same way. Enterprises want flexibility in how they pay for their bandwidth.
On the one hand, you have the more traditional model, that charges a flat fee for a fixed-term contract duration. This is good for enterprises with consistently heavy-traffic networks, because it allows them to buy bandwidth they need in terms of peak consumption. On the other hand, you have pay-per-use or pay-as-you-go, where the enterprise only buys what they need, when they need it.
Some enterprises like this model because it allows them to adjust bandwidth consumption to correspond with customer demand. It works well for enterprises deriving a good part of their revenue from an online channel: if traffic dips, they scale down bandwidth. If enterprises see more traffic – thanks to increased demand from their own customers, who are visiting the enterprise’s online channel in higher numbers – then they’ll need to scale up bandwidth to accommodate. That higher cost is offset by the increased revenue that the traffic is generating.
Ultimately, the determination that enterprises make between choosing one model over the other is whether to treat bandwidth as a cost or an enabler for revenue. The important part is that they have the choice at all. And, carriers that don’t provide that choice risk losing their enterprise customers to the carriers who can offer that kind of flexibility.
Enterprises are evolving to keep pace with the speed and volume of information in today’s global, digital economy. Their bandwidth needs are evolving accordingly. Carriers that don’t make use of the tools and models listed above to fulfill these needs and ensure they’re providing enterprises, both in the U.S. and abroad, with high-quality, flexible and real