Why Upgrading to Business-Grade Broadband Connectivity is Vital for SMEs

12th April 2024

Why Upgrading to Business-Grade Broadband Connectivity is Vital for SMEs

Gary Woolley, Chief Commercial Officer at Comsol

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to move away from consumer grade fixed mobile services to business grade services, to achieve the performance and reliability they need to keep their businesses running.

This is according to Gary Woolley, Chief Commercial Officer at Comsol, who says downtime has become all too common in South Africa, and presents a real business risk for SMEs who have to stay connected to survive.

Recent research by World Wide Worx reiterated that reliable technology is crucial for SME growth and efficiency. 

Woolley notes: “Connectivity underpins all digital technology, so SMEs cannot afford to be dependent on communications infrastructure that is unreliable or inferior.”

However, many SMEs still depend on consumer grade fibre and fixed mobile connectivity to support their mission-critical business systems and processes. These consumer grade products often fail to meet the needs of digitally-enabled SMEs, Woolley says. 

“In recent years, fibre has become less reliable, and much of the mobile market has moved to 5G for improved performance and capacity. But the general perception in the market is that all 5G is equal. It is not. Consumer grade 5G connects to a mast where thousands of people are competing for capacity. It’s a best effort service, subject to throttling and shaping of traffic – often resulting in users not getting the service they paid for. Another major issue is that consumer networks may go down during load shedding,” he says.

He adds that another drawback to consumer 5G is it typically uses indoor routers, where signals do not always penetrate buildings.

Woolley says SMEs may be dependent on consumer grade solutions due to a lack of understanding of the differences between consumer and business connectivity products, or because a true enterprise-grade fixed wireless access 5G product was not available in the past.

Comsol fills the gap with FWA 5G for business

Comsol, with decades of experience building robust and advanced solutions for large enterprises, recently expanded its portfolio with a 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solution ideal for redundancy for large enterprises, and as a primary connection for SMEs. Comsol’s 5G FWA has been purpose-built for business, he says.  Comsol built its 5G ecosystem from the core through to the Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) end devices, and upgraded its power infrastructure to accommodate the increased power consumption due to 5G.

Woolley says: “With our 5G FWA, we extended our enterprise offering on base stations that are business 5G-only and aren’t oversubscribed, offering all the rugged power infrastructure we have designed to keep our network live even through prolonged power outages. Crucially, we have dual fibre and microwave backhaul feeds to ensure the network doesn’t go down, even when fibre networks experience outages.”

The solution, available through selected partners, uses a fixed outdoor CPE which offers significantly better service than indoor routers or mobile phones. 

“Because we are business-only focused, we don’t have an over-contended world where traffic is jostling for capacity,” Woolley says. “On consumer networks you seldom get the capacity and reliability you signed up for, whereas we guarantee you’ll get the service you signed up for.”

The premium Comsol 5G FWA offering is competitively priced, uncapped and available in 25Mbps, 50 Mbps and 100mbps, for the time being. “We are aiming to be competitive in the market in terms of price, and offer a far better experience and more value than consumer-grade solutions,” Woolley says.

Woolley says: “Our business is to make sure South African business stays online. For years, we have built complex and mission critical private networks for major enterprises, industrial sites and mining houses. With our 5G FWA service we are lowering the barrier to entry and giving SMEs access to the same enterprise grade experience.”   

“Connectivity is just as important to an SME as it is to a large enterprise, and we take their needs as seriously as they do. With the new 5G FWA, we ensure they will get the capacities, performance and reliability they require,” Woolley says.