When you’re purchasing broadband Internet service for your business, there are more things to consider than just megabits per second. Companies selling consumer-based broadband sell on the promise of high bandwidth at a low cost, which might be okay for home use, but could be detrimental to the health of your business. Here are some things to consider when selecting broadband service for your business.
Shared vs. Dedicated Broadband
Shared broadband utilizes bandwidth that is oversubscribed by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) with the idea that not everyone will be using the Internet at the same time. When there are spikes in traffic, the available bandwidth for everyone is reduced, which is why you see fluctuations in your bandwidth speed throughout the day. One thing to note about shared bandwidth is that you are paying for “up to” speeds, meaning you get “up to” 25Mbps or 50Mbps or however many megabits per second you purchased. It’s a cap, not a guarantee.
Dedicated broadband, on the other hand, provides a set amount of bandwidth to only your business, and that bandwidth is synchronous meaning you get the same amount both downstream and upstream. Shared bandwidth generally provides only a fraction of upload bandwidth versus download (for example, up to 25Mbps down but only 2Mbps up). With that in mind, you might discover that you don’t need to purchase as much dedicated bandwidth as shared in order to attain the same level of service.
Bandwidth + Latency = Faster Internet Performance
One of the myths of broadband service is that higher bandwidth equates to a faster Internet experience, but there is more to performance than just how much bandwidth you have. If you think of bandwidth as a pipe, the bigger the pipe the more data you can fit through it. But equally important to performance is latency, which refers to the length of time it takes data to get from one point to another. You notice latency in the amount of delay you experience (i.e. the higher the latency, the longer the delay). There are a number of factors that affect latency including how far the data has to travel, congestion on the bandwidth, and whether any of the routers along the path are overloaded. Several recent studies point to the “last mile” (the distance from your computer to your ISP) as one of the most frequent causes of high latency. Obviously if that last mile is using shared bandwidth, it will be more congested, causing higher latency. There are a number of apps and websites that you can use to test your bandwidth speed and latency, including www.speedtest.net. If you run a bandwidth test on speedtest.net, your latency is shown in milliseconds under “Ping.” For most consumer cable and DSL connections you can expect the latency to be in the 25ms to 50ms range. If your latency is consistently higher than that, you might want to contact your ISP to ask about ways to remedy the situation (or look for a dedicated broadband option).
Best Effort Service vs. Service Level Agreements
You probably aren’t even aware that most business broadband service providers include Service Level Agreements that guarantee uptime – in most cases 99.99%. That means that on average, your business Internet service won’t be down for more than 5 minutes each month. Compare that to residential agreements that provide “best effort” service. In the event of an emergency such as severe storms, or a cut cable, your business is at the mercy of the ISP to use its “best effort” to get you back online. What would happen to your business if you lost your broadband connection for an entire day or even a week? If your business relies on a consistent Internet connection, this in and of itself might be a reason to look at business Internet service over a residential solution.
If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated your business Internet service, we’d recommend that you take some time and reach out to one of our sales people. We can provide a free site survey to help you understand your needs, and possibly even save you some money in the process.