4G modems and hotspots are pretty inexpensive and can often be used on a pay-as-you-go basis, which means a company might think about having one around for emergency use. This sounds like a really low-cost option for a small to medium-sized business, especially when compared to the cost of having a secondary ISP for failover, but is 4G really enough?
A recent article in Spiceworks explored the notion after the author experienced Internet failure caused by a careless excavator. As a former excavator myself, I can tell you that it’s not at all uncommon to find more than one internet line as you dig—real excavators know how to unearth them without damaging them, but it’s all too common for a novice (or stupid) operator to dig out a scoop of dirt only to find that a snaking ball of destroyed cables comes with it. If two of these cables happen to belong to your business’s Internet service providers, you might be without your primary and secondary ISP, which sort of defeats the purpose of having both, doesn’t it?
The solution might be to use something like 3G or 4G as they don’t require a wired connection to function. The issue becomes apparent quickly, however, because even the fastest 4G LTE only has a download speed of around 16 mbps, which would also have to be shared among employees. That may not be enough bandwidth for a business, especially a larger one.
For those businesses that lean on the cloud for many different business functions, this probably isn’t going to cut it, but if both ISPs are down at once, it’s definitely better than nothing. As the story in Spiceworks illustrates, certain things like processing credit cards or other functions that require the internet can be done using 4G, and in many cases having any Internet access might save the day. They’ll at least be able to complete the basic online tasks even if they can’t do all of them.
As you go about coming up with backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity plans for clients, it’s worthwhile to keep in mind the possibility of using 4G wireless devices in emergencies. Smaller businesses can probably keep their heads afloat using these for a while and it’s probably much more cost effective than having them pay a monthly fee for a secondary ISP service they might never need to use. Heck, certain one or two person businesses can probably run their entire operations using the right 4G network—at least temporarily. It can never hurt to think of 4G as an option while you tailor the perfect plan for each client.