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Business Internet Bandwidth Connections
What the best bandwidth options are for business locations and how to choose.

By: John Shepler

Internet access can be divided into three categories. Consumer residential broadband, dedicated business bandwidth, and 3G/4G mobile. Mobile broadband serves both individuals and business users. But fixed wireline is either business or consumer, but not truly both.

Cost vs Performance
Why is that? There’s as cost vs performance decision that separates the two. Consumer services, and that includes home based businesses, are not even classified as telecom services. They have a designation as “information services.” What that does is keep them relatively unregulated with few commitments to the customer. In return, costs are kept low so that they are affordable by most households.

Dedicated Bandwidth
Business bandwidth is a regulated telecom service with high performance expectations. Unlike consumer connections, your business line services have a dedicated bandwidth level that is available 100% of the time. You can use that line up to its full capacity without bandwidth caps.

Symmetrical Bandwidth
Business bandwidth also tends to be symmetrical. That is, you get the same bandwidth in both directions. An example is 10 x 10 Mbps Ethernet. What that means is that you get 10 Mbps in both the upload and download directions. Contrast that with consumer DSL, Cable and wireless services that favor the download direction by a large margin. That’s because most consumers download far more data than they upload. Business use tends to be more balanced.

High Reliability
Business bandwidth services are designed to be highly reliable. After all, the telecom companies and network carriers use the same line services themselves. Many come with an SLA or Service Level Agreement. That document defines the performance and availability of the line. If it goes down, it gets fast attention from the service provider. Most outages are restored in a matter of hours or less. There is no such commitment for consumer services. It’s a “best effort” arrangement with multi-day outages undesirable but not unknown.

Dedicated Access
Business Internet bandwidth is also called “dedicated” access. The dedicated term means that you and you alone have use of that much bandwidth. That may seem obvious, but do you realize that consumer broadband services are called “shared” and not dedicated? What the service provider does is purchase a large dedicated line service and then share that bandwidth among the user base. How much bandwidth you have at any given time is a function of how much your neighbors are also using. Bandwidth slowdowns during peak usage times are to be expected. This is why consumer bandwidth is sold as “up to” a certain Mbps.

Types of Connectivity
Popular Internet bandwidth connections for business are T-Carrier, SONET and Ethernet. T-Carrier includes the popular T1 lines that offer 1.5 Mbps bandwidth and are available just about anywhere you can get telephone service. SONET is the big brother ofT-Carrier. It is a fiber optic service with designations such as OC-3, OC-12, and OC-48. Ethernet can be provided on either copper or fiber. Ethernet over Copper is available in metropolitan areas at bandwidths up to 45 Mbps. Most popular are 3 Mbps and 10 Mbps Ethernet over Copper. They typically offer more Mbps for your bandwidth dollar, where available. Ethernet over Fiber offers near limitless bandwidth, although 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gbps Ethernet are popular standard line speeds.

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