Internet applications have advanced to the point where it is easier for smaller and medium-sized companies to justify a permanent connection to the internet. Once this connection is justified, it is easier to make a case to review the IT equipment on-site to ensure it can take advantage of the internet connection. This can result in a phased plan to upgrade equipment to technology.
There are many reasons for having a leased line connection to the internet, but perhaps the most important one is reduced communications costs. Many companies start out with individual desktops accessing the internet through modems connected to individual PCs. The costs incurred are rental and call charges on each analogue line. If many people are accessing the internet this way, these charges alone could exceed the monthly cost of a leased line. Because leased line connections are made through a router rather than a modem, all employees on the Lan can have access to the internet for a capped monthly fee. This provides a higher level of internet service for employees.
Communications costs can also be reduced by placing fax traffic over the internet. Companies that make overseas calls will be able to achieve the best savings. International voice traffic could be replaced with chat sessions over the internet if both parties to the call find this acceptable.
If an international internet service provider (ISP) is providing the leased line, they may be able to offer global dial-back services for remote access. This can save call and admin charges because the mobile employee just dials into the ISP's closest point of presence, the line is dropped and the ISP's network dials the employee back. The call charges are consolidated back to the home office and the remote employee need not incur any charges to expense in some instances.
Depending on the capacity of the ISP's network, voice or video conferencing may be possible back to the home office. Again at a fraction of the cost.
All of these services can also be available nationally. The call charge savings themselves would be less per call, but if a substantial number of peak and long distance national calls are made, then savings may be considerable.
Besides reduced communications call costs, there are other savings to be made. If a company is paying an ISP to host its Website, they could also save these hosting charges by moving its Website in-house.
It is this collection of savings that makes it easier to justify a leased line connection to the internet. Add to this the benefits of internet connection and a case to upgrade IT equipment to current technology emerges.
The main benefit is usually email and its associated cost and time savings.
If the Website is on the company's premises, it is easier and cheaper to develop a more complicated Website that incorporates active pages that interact with a database or has private areas for individual customers.
By hosting the Website, it is also easy to provide extranet services.
This requires individual modems or a remote access server to be added to the network. Customers could then dial directly to the Website without going over the internet.
In this way, high levels of performance can be guaranteed as well as increased security. The extranet could also be used for remote access.
At first, a leased line connection may appear expensive, but once customers understand the savings and benefits, it may end up saving them money.
Of course, this depends on the circumstances of the company for example, how many employees the company has and how much the company spends on fax calls.
Considering this opportunity, resellers should be teaming up with ISPs to offer leased line internet services.
As 3Com is a major provider to resellers and ISPs in the UK, we are well positioned to help our channel partners realise this opportunity.
Kurt Christopherson is UK marketing manager at 3Com.
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