DSL is the low cost internet option offered by phone companies, like Qwest, AT&T and Verizon. It rides on a business phone line and connects to your computer network using a DSL modem or router. The speed of DSL depends on your business’s location in relation to the phone company’s central office. The central office, or wire center, is a physical structure where your phone lines originate from; typically they are all brick or block buildings, with no windows and the phone company’s logo prominently displayed. Availability is widespread but there are still pockets where there is no service because those areas are too far from the central office or due to the existence of pair gain (a technology used to multiply the number of phone lines available in a given area). Relocating service shouldn’t be an issue because of its widespread availability. Download speeds range from 1.5 Mbps to 40 Mbps. Uploads are usually less than 1 Mbps. Dependability has gotten much better – if service goes down, usually unplugging and rebooting your DSL router is all that is required. Not the best internet connection to use for VoIP because of limited upload speeds. Price is dropping for higher speeds; typically the service costs less than $100 a month.
Cable internet is the cable company’s answer to DSL. It’s offered by companies like Time Warner Cable. This service is delivered over coaxial cable and connects to your computer network using a cable modem. The speed is not distance sensitive but effected by number of users on the network. Download speeds range from 3 Mbps to 40 Mbps and higher upload speeds are available for higher monthly costs. Availability depends on a business’s location in relation to cable company’s network. Cable companies have specific footprints that are franchised and typically they won’t enter their competitor’s territory. Relocating can be an issue for businesses using cable internet and phone services because there are so many gaps in their coverage area and sometimes half a city is serviced by a different cable provider. Make sure, if you enter a contract, that it’s void if you move to an area your cable company can’t service. Dependability is good, but like DSL operates “by next day” time frame for a repair tech visit. Not the best internet connection to use for VoIP due to latency issues. Price is comparable to DSL but can approach $300 a month for connections offering faster upload speeds.
Wireless internet access is offered by smaller companies that mostly operate in areas where DSL or cable aren’t available. (For some reason these areas exist and neither the cable or phone companies seem to be in a hurry to make them serviceable or to get a leg up on the competition. When it finally happens, both cable and the DSL internet providers tend to make their services available at the same time.) Wireless providers typically buy their bandwidth wholesale and then resell it to customers in their general location that are in the “line of sight”. Line of sight means that there are no obstructions between the customer’s location and the wireless provider. Download and upload speeds range from 1 to 10 Mbps. There is more overhead with wireless internet so you typically won’t receive the total bandwidth that you subscribe to. Quality is affected by the weather. Not a good service to use for VoIP, although many wireless providers sell the service to their customers. I would only recommend using the wireless provider’s version of VoIP because they can manage the routers and priorities from beginning to end. Price is lower than the phone company’s T1 services but usually more than DSL or cable because the wireless providers aren’t typically competing against those services. Moving can be an issue because wireless providers typically service specific business parks. Wireless providers push their services by claiming that they won’t be affected by accidental fiber cuts or “fiber seeking backhoes”, but they receive the internet they resell over cable and fiber lines and that could be cut just as easily and the cable that supplies your wire based internet access.
If there is no other option and you need internet access, then satellite is for you. Download speeds are okay but inconsistent and uploads are slow and sometimes even require the use of dialup. Available anywhere but is only purchased where there are no other options. Priced like butter was in cold war USSR. Unusable for VoIP because of the low upload speeds it provides.
Internet access and phone service delivered over a T1 connection. This service is offered by every major provider, like Qwest, AT&T and Verizon. It’s been a main staple of competitive local exchange carriers, like Integra, TW Telecom and XO. The lowest priced option that includes a business class Service Level Agreement (SLA). Meaning that the repair technician would be to your place of business in a set number of hours, not by next day. Download and upload speeds are synchronous, or equal, but are limited to increments of 1.5 Mbps. Bandwidth is more dedicated (less oversubscribed) and secure. Bandwidth is dynamic, meaning if phone lines aren’t in use it is freed up for internet access. Available almost anywhere phone service is available. Easy to relocate because of its availability. More dependable than DSL, cable, wireless or satellite. Price is higher than other options but coming down. A small phone and internet bundle can be had for less than $400 a month.
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