The internet is vital to most modern businesses, so when you lose connection, it's often hard/impossible to operate. As Commusoft relies 100% on the internet, we thought it would benefit everyone if we shared our recent experience when the internet died.
It was Thursday 25th May 2017 at 15:30. Our office manager comes over and informs me BT are coming at 9:00am the next morning and will turn off their internet.
Me: “What! how long for?”
Office manager: “They haven’t said”
In the same moment I was angry, worried and ready to shout at someone.
Now it’s worth noting, we don’t have any servers in our office, they’re all managed in professional data centres with backup power generators, backup internet lines, fire suppression and biometric security, so this little internet outage wasn’t going to affect our software availability.
Here at Commusoft HQ, everything runs on the internet. Our phone systems, our support ticketing system and our sales CRM. How could they only give us 2 hours notice!
It turns out the IT team had been fighting with BT for the last 5 weeks trying to get an engineer into the building to upgrade our connection from 100mb to 1,000mb. BT had a cancellation and they could come and do the work, the downside, it was tomorrow morning.
The internet is a vital part of all businesses, whether your using Commusoft and need the internet to access your customers, jobs and schedule or whether your just using it to order parts, look up information and generally run your business, loosing the internet will have an impact.
In our case, it was made worse by the fact no one knew how long we’d be out - 15 minutes? an hour? all day?
How did we protect our business from the looming internet outage?
The first thing we did was ask one of our team members to work from home. They often work from home and had a phone already setup, so we knew we’d not be out completely - at least one person would be available to answer queries.
We then looked at how we could minimise impact at our head office. With the internet potentially being out all day, we needed another, alternative connection and fast.
So, off I went to Maplins in Canary Wharf, the nearest shopping centre.
I picked up a 4G Wifi router for around £100 inc VAT. This would give us a reasonable connection for all sales and client service team members during the period in which the internet went offline.
I then headed over to o2 to purchase a sim card. For £15.00 incl VAT per month, I picked up a sim card that would come with 5GB of data a month (on a rolling month to month contract). This would be plenty of data, assuming none of our team decided to stream a movie over their lunch break!
The helpful guys at o2 also managed to save me £10.00 a month on my personal phone contract, which is always a bonus!
Chuffed with myself, I headed to Wagamamas to pickup some food and was back in the office by 16:30.
The router was pretty simple to setup, put in the sim card, plug it into power and it was done.
We made sure everyone in the office knew how to connect to the new router before they left for the day and we were all set.
On the day
Now, nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. We had managed the day before to have our phones routed through a backup network, so in theory they wouldn’t be affected… but, as you can imagine, BT managed to do something which threw out all the networks to the building, typical!
We were though still online. Our 4G router was working perfectly and our ticket response times were all under 20 minutes, which is pretty normal here.
What can you do to prepare for the worst?
Every business, small and large should have some sort of backup. In our case, a simple 4G router was a cost effective solution to making sure our team were all connected. Our little 4G router is now a permanent fixture in our office and will guarantee our team can always get online.
But what should you do?
If you’re a small business with 1 or 2 office staff, knowing how to tether your phone to your PC maybe enough. Tethering is just the act of using your phones 3G/4G connection to connect your PC/laptop to the internet. It’s a simple, quick and free way to keep you online.
If you’ve got a few more members of the team and you want something a little more robust, trying purchasing a 4G router. I’ve done a quick guide to purchasing the right 4G router and how you can support small teams of 3-4 office staff right up to larger teams of 5-15 people.
You should always plan for the worst, it’s something Commusoft are aware of and have been working towards over the last year when Transport for London decided to go on strike and our team couldn’t get into work. We’ve been replacing all staff computers with laptops, allowing the team to work from home when needed.
If you’re interested in learning more about purchasing the right equipment for your business and office staff, like what PC should you buy, check out our white paper below.