Getting your C-Store Connected

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1 Getting your C-Store Connected Understanding uptime performance and return on broadband investments Operating multiple convenience stores across a geographically disperse area presents many challenges. It is essential that companies scrutinize every piece of their operations for ways to remain competitive and keep customers coming back. Choosing the right access technology can play a key role in delivering a reliable and cost effective high-speed connection to mission critical operational systems such as credit card networks, customer loyalty programs, and employee training. This paper explores the most common types of high-speed connectivity, how they compare to each other, and finally, what companies should consider when choosing the best technology for them. Common Types of High Speed Connectivity For the purpose of this paper we are going to focus on the most common methods for deploying high-speed Internet in a C-Store environment. These access methods fall into two categories: Fixed line Options (DSL, Cable, Fiber, T1) and Wireless Options (Mobile Broadband, Satellite, Fixed Wireless). There are a number of other high-speed options such as Broadband over Powerline and municipal Wi-fi, but they are not widely deployable and can be costly. Please see the chart near the end of the paper. It provides a condensed overview of the pros and cons of the different connection types. By: Nick Franco, Senior Director of Sales with Acumera DSL Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) uses telephone wires to transmit Internet signals and is one of the most readily available types of high-speed Internet for small businesses. Telephone companies were able to leverage millions of miles of copper telephone wires run over the last 100 years to deliver high-speed Internet. Due to its heavy subscription rates, it offers an affordable choice. Unfortunately, DSL technology is very distance sensitive, so the further your location is from the telephone companies equipment, the slower the speed and more unreliable the connection. This makes DSL unavailable for more remote locations. Most C-Store operators utilize DSL for at least a portion of their stores. Basic DSL and Cable can be low cost services but tend to require more ongoing customer support... Cable. Like the telephone companies, cable television operators leveraged their part of their existing network to offer high-speed Internet. Coaxial (coax) cable was originally developed to carry television signals. Cable TV operators implemented standards to deliver cost effective high-speed Internet over the coax cables already running into homes and businesses. The technology supports faster speeds than DSL but has limitations of its own, especially for a stand-alone commercial building like a convenience store. Existing cable networks tend to

2 service most residential buildings but far fewer commercial buildings. This can lead to costly build outs and long lead times to installing cable service. Cable Internet is also a shared delivery method, which means a customer s speed/performance will vary greatly depending on how many of the customers sharing the network are online. Reliability, availability, and security are very important when it comes to handling customer s personal credit card/ debit information. Fiber. Service Providers have used fiber optic cable for more than 30 years to build their own high capacity networks; however, in recent years they have begun using fiber optic cable to deliver high-speed Internet directly to customers. No other technology can deliver as much bandwidth over longer distances as fiber-to-the premises (FTTP) or some times called fiber-tothe-home (FTTH). AT&T U-verse and Verizon FIOS are examples of this technology. Most of the larger DSL service providers are transitioning their networks to FTTP/FTTH to keep up with the ever-raising bandwidth demand. Given the expense of deploying a fiber product, it tends to be slightly more expensive than DSL and Cable. This is the leading technology in fixed-line high-speed broadband space. Most of the larger DSL service providers are transitioning to fiber optic cable networks. T1. Companies have been using T1s to connected their sites together and deliver voice service for more the 40 years, long before there was an Internet. T1s typically use the telephone network to provide a dedicated connection to the Internet. T1 technology provides upload and download speeds of 1.5Mbps and has long been considered the workhorse of access technology given its capacity and reliability. 10 years ago, if a company had mission critical applications that required connectivity, a T1 was a strong choice. Also, unlike DSL, Cable, and Fiber products, T1s are not distance sensitive. They are however; significantly more expensive and today most companies requiring the same level of reliability are opting for more cost-effective solutions that utilize a backup element. Fixed Wireless. Fixed wireless is a type of access where service providers use radio signals rather than cables to deliver high-speed Internet to their customers. It is most commonly used for remote areas that are not served by more conventional broadband services such as Cable or DSL; however, in recent years Fixed WiMax as been deployed in a few metropolitan areas but with the deployment of new LTE mobile networks, it hasn t gotten strong consumer support. Fixed wireless broadband signals are broadcast from a base station to a receiver. The receiver is usually a fixed aerial or antenna, which is mounted on the customers premise. Due to the lack of subscribers, it is more expensive than comparable broadband services. The lack of wires eliminates problems such as slowing down with distance, but also introduces new vulnerabilities to the service, as it uses radio waves, which can be blocked by terrain or can experience interference due to weather. Although not ideal, it is sometimes the best choice for remote locations needing low latency Internet connectivity. T1 technology provides upload and download speeds of 1.5Mbps and has long been considered the workhorse of access technology

3 Mobile Broadband Wireless carriers deliver Mobile broadband (High-speed Internet) through the same mobile phone (cell) towers that deliver cell phone calls. Most people are familiar with this technology as they surf the Internet on their smartphone. Historically there have been two distinct groups of wireless carriers: those that serve the mobile user and those that serve the fixed user. In the past fixed wireless carriers could provide greater bandwidth at the sacrifice of mobility. With the development of 4th Generation (4G) networks, mobile broadband can now deliver comparable bandwidth to fixed wireless as well as Cable and DSL. Many small businesses located in range of the service provider s coverage area are turning to 4G mobile broadband as both a primary access technology or for a route-diverse back-up solution. Satellite For years Satellites have been used in the C-Store environment to carry credit card transactions. Geostationary satellites orbit the earth at the same speed as the earth s rotation, so the satellites appear to be stationary about 22,000 miles above the earth. Before the need for high-speed Internet, satellite technology provided a secure, widely deployable network to connect multiple sites back to a centralized location. With the rise in bandwidth requirements, satellite providers have struggled to provide a reliable high-speed broadband service. Since the wireless signal must travel so far, satellite broadband services have very high latency and typically are not suitable for the delivery of some of today s interactive multimedia based applications. To help reduce latency and increase bandwidth, satellite providers have looked at deploying lower orbiting satellite networks, but this has proved complex and very costly. Today, most of the satellite networks deployed in the C-Store industry are being replaced with other access technologies described above or converted to backup networks. As primary access, most companies only consider satellite for remote locations with no other broadband options. With the development of 4G networks, mobile broadband can now deliver comparable bandwidth to fixed wireless as well as Cable and DSL. Please see the chart near the end of the paper. It provides a condensed overview for the pros and cons of the different connection types. Ultimately, the access technologies available will be determined by where your company s sites are geographically located. Considerations When Choosing the Best Technology As a C-Store operator, there are several things to consider when choosing an access technology. The first area to consider is what applications are going to be supported on the connection and what are their technical requirements? For example, video surveillance applications, customer Wi-fi access, and interactive employee training programs can chew through a lot of bandwidth.

4 Fiber can be a good choice due to its high capacity. Is the connection going to be carrying transactional data? Reliability, availability, and security are very important when it comes to handling customer s personal credit card/debit information. After understanding what the connection requirements are, the next step is analyzing the total cost of ownership. The cost analysis should include not only the install and monthly fees from the service provider, but also the company resources required to support the implementation and ongoing break/fix activity. Basic DSL and Cable can be low cost services but tend to require more ongoing customer support than high availability, but expensive T1. If high availability is critical, it might be more cost effective to consider a primary and a back up access circuit, ideally route diverse circuits such as DSL with mobile broadband back up. Ultimately, the access technologies available will be determined by where your company s sites are geographically located. Deciding which access is best for you will be a combination of your technical requirements, cost analysis, and the company resources available to keep your stores connected and selling. Deciding which access is best for you will be a combination of your technical requirements, cost analysis, and the company resources available to keep your stores connected and selling. About Acumera Founded in 2002, Acumera provides Trusted Connection Services to multisite merchants, specializing in the reduction of headaches caused by network management and security issues. Customers are free to focus on running their businesses because Acumera actively manages their networks and provides unparalleled visibility and remote management capability. Acumera gets customers stores, network clients and devices securely connected and keeps them connected. In addition to network status, merchants have real-time insight into key operational measures, such as fuel inventory levels and environmental and food safety temperatures. As a result, Acumera customers say they love their network.

5 Connectivity Comparison Chart Cost/Economics Simplicity of Deployment Installation cost/time Monthly cost Availability Capacity/Speeds* Range Strengths Weaknesses DSL Easy where existing POTs are available Low cost installation, 1 4 weeks average $50/month Best efforts technology, carriers typically will not repair after hours/weekends 1.5Mbps 6Mbps, not shared 2 3 miles from service provider s equipment Cost effective highspeed broadband option, uses existing POTs lines Reliability can vary Distance sensitive. widely depending on quality/age of local Telco infrastructure. Cable Easy if cable TV network already exists. Expensive and time consuming if network needs to be deployed (build out). Fiber Easy if network has been deployed T1 Easy where POTs lines are available Low cost typically under $200 unless build out needed, many carriers pass through all or part of the cost. 1 week to months again, depending on if build out required Low cost, typically under $200, 1 4 weeks Expensive, can run $ weeks Average $60/month Best efforts technology. 1.5mbps 12Mbps, shared 60 miles using amplifiers Uses existing Cable TV networks technology, bandwidth not guaranteed. Average $75/month Best Efforts 50Mbps+, not shared 12 miles from carriers equipment Very high bandwidth Slightly more expensive, available mostly in well or newly developed areas $260 - $1000+, Dedicated High 1.5Mbps, not shared 100+ miles Very reliable, Expensive compared mostly depended on availability, 4 hour capacity not shared to other high-speed loop length to carrier s mean time to repair Internet options that equipment. (MTTR). offer much more bandwidth. Fixed Wireless Easy, but usually requires a site survey Low cost average $200, 1-4 weeks $40 - $100 Best efforts Varies, based on technology used, range 2Mbps 155Mbps, shared 2 30 miles Easy to setup, high capacity Non-standardize technology, some dependent on line of sight. Mobile Broadband Easy Low cost, can deploy very quickly $40 - $100 Best efforts 2Mbps 100Mbps depending on technology coverage area of provider mobile terminals ride on existing cellular network Costly spectrum could limit future capacity Satellite Easy but expensive $500 - $3000, 4-6 weeks Average $ Best efforts Up to 155Mbps downlink ,000 miles *Capacity/Speeds are not all synchronous and numbers shown depict common download speeds. Large coverage area, widely deployable High upfront cost, High latency, not suitable for multimedia applications. Weather can impact reliability.

6 Critical Services for Convenience Stores Broadband Qualification, Provisioning & Support Secure Network Development & Management Network/Device Monitoring & Alert Messaging Apps for C-store Operations (ATG, Temperature Monitoring, etc.) Virtual Private Network Management PCI Tools & Support Whitepapers Available from Acumera Improving C-Store Operations with Network Automation A New Era of Security in Convenience Stores Advantages and Benefits of Running PDI/Enterprise on an Acumera Managed Network Improving Store Support and Revenue with Proactive Support Methodology Business Considerations for Leveraging Wi-Fi at C-Stores Technicial Considerations for Implementing Wi-Fi in C-Stores Getting Your C-Store Connected Improving Network Uptime PCI-DSS Compliance Support Our goal is to reduce the headaches our customers experience maintaining their Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance. To that end, we are constantly improving our systems and services to provide the most secure networks and to support our customers compliance audits. Acumera is a fully PCI compliant service provider, which means we have taken the steps to complete our own PCI compliance assessment and obtain an annual Report on Compliance (ROC). Acumera is fully compliant with ALL applicable requirements and controls. Uniquely, we won t promote that our compliance will ensure our customers compliance because it can t. There is no 3rd party service that completely removes merchant responsibility for PCI DSS compliance. Tom Yemington Vice President of Sales and Marketing Nick Franco Senior Director of Sales (512) Dennis Jensen Senior Director of Sales (952)

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