GTB IT Solutions

Internet Outage - How to prepare?

March 20th, 2023

What if your business lost access to the Internet unexpectedly? What impact would it have on you and your team?

If losing the Internet for a few minutes, hours or days would make little or no difference, then read no further.

But otherwise, and building on our Business Continuity Plan article from last month, it’s worth you spending a few minutes thinking about, and having preparations in place now (before they are needed).

Why might I lose my Internet?

Even with fibre, which is the fastest and most reliable Internet we’ve ever had, you can still lose the Internet and it does happen quite frequently. 

Following are some of the reasons why:

Technical issues - with your Internet Service Provider. Your Internet Service provider is under constant cyber attack and they operate complex equipment driven by complex software.

Power outages - either your gear will have no power and not work; and/or perhaps all the equipment in your area that supplies you. Some GTB clients in the Hutt Valley were challenged by this just last week. Sometimes power surges can blow out network gear.

Weather conditions - severe weather can damage the infrastructure delivering the Internet to you.

Physical damage - to your wiring or cables, or your Internet suppliers. We occasionally have clients who lose Internet because of a digger driver somewhere near them. Or it could be theft or even vandalism.

Payment issues - we’ve had professional practice clients whose Internet suppliers have cut them off promptly due to lack of payment or an accounting mistake! NOTE - get your Internet from GTB. If you are one of our valued clients, we have your back on this one.

The Canada Story - A recent internet outage meant that business ground to a half in Canada. A botched maintenance update by a large internet service provider created chaos for more than 10 million customers. About one-quarter of Canada’s internet capacity was offline. The downtime lasted only 12 hours for some, days for others. The problem halted some point-of-sale payments, some nonprofits lost the ability to serve vulnerable populations, and cellular-dependent traffic signals in Toronto were out of whack.

What can we learn from this? 

If access to the Internet is important; have an alternative.

If your internet goes down, and GTB supplies your Internet, then things are easier - you only need to deal with us, rather than with potentially multiple suppliers. You won’t need to spend hours on the phone listening to ‘hold’ music or being bounced from person to person.

Likewise, if GTB  is your Managed Service Provider, we will do the following steps for you at no extra cost to you.

The first thing we will do (or you need to do) is to check if any Internet outages have been reported in your area.

Otherwise, we next go through a thorough checklist first to figure out where the problem lies, including:

  • Is it a hardware issue?

  • Is your computer playing up and not connected to the network?

  • Is it a firewall or modem that is causing the issue?

  • Is it the line or the internet coming in to the building ?

There’s no point reporting an Internet outage if it is not actually an Internet outage, but instead caused by your gear.

Here are two suggestions that can help you ensure you are protected against an Internet outage.

Building a backup plan for lost internet

Having two or more Internet connections

Setting up a secondary internet connection can help your business remain online. For this to work, you’ll need to partner with a different provider than you do for your primary internet. This cuts the odds that both your main and backup internet will go down at once.

GTB can set this up for you on your router/network, and supply one of the Internet connections. If you primary Internet goes off, you will automatically switch to the secondary.

Businesses for who the Internet is critical may have a solution like this as a part of their Business Continuity Plan. But it does mean you need to pay for two Internet connections. Is your need sufficient to justify that?

Using cellular data as a backup

If your primary internet connection is fibre or older Broadband, consider a cellular backup.

GTB offers a ‘managed failover’ service using cellular data. This means that you have a SIM card inside a special modem that automatically switches you across if your primary Internet supply fails. The cellular data can be slower, but importantly - it keeps you working!

This solution is considerably less costly than simply having a second Internet connection, and it protects against more risks. If the digger driver down the road cuts the Chorus fibre cable, then all fibre Internet will stop no matter who you get it from. Whereas with the cellular failover, if the cable gets cut but that’s ok, because your backup is wireless.

In Summary

The Canadian outage saw a great many businesses floundering. We hope that won’t happen in NZ - but Internet outages do happen here, and it’s not unlikely that more ISP outages will occur. If this concerns you - be prepared and have an alternative in place before you need it.

Consider having a second Internet connection. Or consider having a cellular data failover service. For our client size and risk, we usually recommend a cellular data failover.

Contact the GTB team if you would like further information.

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