Following a recent report that estimates UK internet service providers owe around £30m to companies for breach of service level agreements, it has been suggested that multiple DSL connections could work out to be a cheaper and more reliable alternative to expensive leased lines.
A report from internet breakdown company Iowatch, based on complaints from network managers about lack of service from ISPs, estimated that UK businesses could be owed as much as £35m from SLA breaches.
The figures are backed up by Mark Decker, product manager at Rainfinity, a company which recently launched ISP failover software.
"The service level agreements offered by ISPs today have no teeth," he said.
"There is too much that could and does go wrong. A service provider would lose the shirt off its back if it applied real penalties every time something went wrong."
Decker said that one way around the problem of enterprises relying on a single leased line that may not provide anywhere near the five nine's (99.999 per cent) uptime it promises is to multi-home ISPs, which effectively translates as using more connections.
"However, more people think about multi-homing ISPs, than actually do it," he said.
Decker explained that despite extortionate service charges, an 'always on' connection is not guaranteed and frequently fails.
By using failover technology, such as Rainconnect, in conjunction with multiple considerably cheaper DSL lines, once one line goes down, another kicks in, keeping your company online.
Decker acknowledged that while DSL is cost-effective, with only a single DSL provider, reliability could still be a problem.
In that case, ISP failover devices such as Rainconnect allow corporations to sign up for cheaper DSL lines with multiple ISPs, so even if a problem occurs in the ISP backbone, another connection will simply take over.
He argued that service providers could even employ the technology at their end as part of a managed service providing redundant internet access.
"Then they could apply real penalties if something goes wrong," he said.
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