Few things in life are more annoying than waiting on a slow Wi-Fi connection. Whether waiting for a map to load at a red light or an email to send at the exact minute of the end of a work shift, every second spent staring at a progress bar is a second of wasted life.

The effects of a slow Wi-Fi connection go far beyond minor annoyance for small businesses – slower employees and unhappy customers can create a variety of financial losses for companies. Although a slower Internet connection may be cheaper, the time and productivity lost create hidden costs that can’t always be seen through reporting.

Why the Internet Is Slow and Expensive

It could be argued that Net Neutrality is the reason the Internet is slow, but that argument is typically made by lobbyists from Internet Service Providers. The FCC recently noticed the real culprit of a slow, expensive Internet in the U.S. is a lack of competition among providers. Monopolies in major cities across the U.S. lead to higher prices for slower connections than major cities in Europe and Asia.

Within this infrastructure, ISP’s divide customers into two categories: residential and business. Residential customers may use their bandwidth for streaming HD-quality videos, games, music, and more, but business customers are the true bandwidth hogs. This is because there’s only so many videos you can watch during prime time hours from 6-10pm while running errands and doing household chores before you have to go to sleep to wake up for work tomorrow.

Businesses are constantly downloading and uploading data, especially when working with remote teams, processing financial transactions, or connecting to customers. In addition, even a small business of 5-10 people is much larger than the average family size of 2.54 people, meaning more people are using more data for longer timeframes in order to keep the business running.

Slow Connections Slow Employees

One day’s work can be accomplished by one full-time employee (FTE). The average human thinks 400 words per minute,, speaks 125 wpm, and types 40 wpm. This means each FTE is losing 90% productivity as they type vs how fast they think.

A study by Sandisk found slow Internet connections cost employees one week per year of productivity, which averages another 2% of inactivity into the mix. This means businesses are paying for only 8% of each FTE’s full capabilities.

This slowdown of productivity decreases overall moral within the company. A recent Gallup poll found 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the economy as much as $350 billion per year alone.

Loss of Revenue

Disengaged employees lead to disengaged customers and loss of sales. Experts forecast by 2016 there will be more than 196 million smartphone users in the U.S. Advancements in Wi-Fi and wearable technology is giving rise to the amount of employee and customer devices.

Mobile users routinely use services such as Google Maps, Foursquare, and Yelp to search for businesses offering free high-speed Wi-Fi connections for customers. Businesses like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and The Home Depot are rushing to provide and advertise lightning-fast wireless Internet connections to service this growing demographic of customers. Mom & Pop shops and holes in the wall need Wi-Fi to compete.

Speeding Up Internet and Wi-Fi

To ensure the fastest possible connection for both employees and customers, start by asking your ISP for a business Internet connection. Select a bandwidth that fits your budget and usage. Expect to pay around $200 per month for a fast enough connection to support multiple users with heavy usage.

Speeding up Wi-Fi is covered in a previous blog, which outlines hardware and software tweaks that vastly improve Wi-Fi connections. These high-speed services will ensure your business provides the best possible Internet connection.

Slow Wi-Fi is more than just a major annoyance – it also costs businesses money by frustrating customers and employees. Acquiring and maintaining a high-speed Internet connection with enough bandwidth to support multiple Wi-Fi users will keep your business in the fast lane of the rat race.