Minimizing Risk and Thriving in a Region Prone to Internet Outages 

Past events and the Caribbean’s rich history with natural disasters, make business continuity planning for hurricane season extremely important. The repetition of natural disasters has illustrated the downside of the local communications infrastructure within Puerto Rico and the surrounding area. Hard-wired “Fiber” connectivity is supposed to be the way to provide communications stability among disasters. Yet, recent events have proven otherwise.

In this article, we’ll examine one area of a business continuity plan – having a diverse back-up solution for the internet.

We’ll explore:

  • The risks of not having a diverse backup internet system
  • And review what to look for in a solutions provider

Migration to cloud-centric environments has changed the world we live in. It’s made today’s businesses more digitally connected than ever.

Think back to what business operations looked like 10 years ago. Think about how operating systems for Point of Sale, Voice Communications, database, and inventory management systems have shifted. They’ve become almost completely dependent on connectivity to the internet and real-time data.

This is the new connected world that we live in. In this world, even a small disruption in connectivity can have a negative ripple effect on a business that lasts for days, weeks or longer. Therefore, a well-designed business continuity plan is a critical business necessity.

Many companies forgo the extra steps to build a full business continuity plan. We urge these businesses to at least put a backup system in place for their internet service. Without it, it’s open season on the business for various risk factors.

Three Major Risks for Businesses Without A Business Continuity Plan 

  1. Chance of Closure – A large disruption can cause a business to close for a period that ranges from short to long-term. Either way, closure increases the risk of going out of business. According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. Twenty-five percent of those that do reopen fail within a year.
  2. Increased Competition – A business’s customers won’t hesitate to call on competitors who can prove to be reliable. This means that after an outage to a company’s communication systems, it’s only a matter of time before customers go elsewhere.
  3. Revenue Risk – Revenue today is extremely digitally connected. Without a backup for internet disruption, people paying with credit cards in restaurants, buying clothing in stores, paying for hotels, and more all put businesses at risk of losing sales.

Surveys have shown that on average 80 percent of a business’s sales are from credit cards. With such a large percentage of sales dependent on digital systems, even short disruptions in connectivity are expensive for a company without a plan.

Having a secondary network connection is critical. It should be one of the highest priorities for a business’s continuity plan. Unfortunately, thoroughness in plan design is often overlooked.

Too often people secure a secondary network connection with a primary carrier or another similar carrier. Even a similar carrier leaves plenty of room for risk. Similar carriers often rely on a common infrastructure and technology with no real diversity between the primary and secondary connections.

For example, a business owner who has fiber could think they’re secure with a backup connection utilizing Cellular or Microwave. This would be a bad decision. The reason is that many of these technologies are only wireless for the last mile to a business. On the back end, they can, and often do, feed into the same central office, fiber paths, conduits or right of ways as the customer’s primary network. That means if the primary network is down, so is the back-up.

How does a business ensure diversity and select the best solutions for their back-up plan?

Look for a provider with the strongest and most diverse network technology available. In Puerto Rico where disruptions to fiber, cable, cellular, and microwave are common, satellite is needed. Satellite technology offers extreme end-to-end diversity for customers. True system diversity happens because satellite technology doesn’t just take the signal out of the municipality within Puerto Rico, it takes the signal completely “Off Island” for the highest level of business continuity.

Here is an example. When the recent earthquakes hit Puerto Rico, temporary satellite systems were set up in three shelters. They were installed quickly and provided a reliable and stable internet connection with WiFi connectivity to the people displaced by the earthquakes. This helped those in the shelters let loved ones know they were okay. The refugees needed this connection to begin rebuilding their lives. Having a stable connection enabled these people to contact insurance companies, apply for financial aid, or the like. Relief didn’t come through fiber, cable or microwave. Satellite by Expedition Communications connected these people.

Look for a provider that can provide a “True” diversified technology from your primary provider and find one that provides options for alternate systems like VoIP. The ability to choose many solutions from one provider streamlines systems and improves interoperability. It allows more time for businesses to design methods for communications with employees and set-up cloud-based network resources.

At the end of the day, a reliable back-up system helps to minimize risk and helps businesses thrive even in the face of adversity. A well-designed solution should allow a business to switch seamlessly from a primary path to a backup path without any user intervention or disruption to the business.

Don’t wait until you need a backup system to start building your business continuity plan. Find your solutions today.

About the Author: Jerry Creekbaum, CTO, Expedition Communications

Jerry Creekbaum is a tenured veteran in the satellite telecommunications field. He currently holds the role of Chief Technology Officer at Expedition Communications. In this role, he is responsible for providing sound technical leadership in all aspects of business operations and the design of satellite communication solutions. Before joining the company, Jerry dedicated 30 years at Verizon, where he made a career out of designing robust carrier-class business continuity solutions for customers. He believes that the systems Expedition Communications designs are not only helpful for businesses in Puerto Rico but necessary. Jerry has expressed that with the quick installation times and reliability of service, it’s surprising that many companies still go without a backup provider.

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