DSL:

DSL is the low cost internet option offered by phone companies, like CenturyLink (aka Lumen), 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 typically range from 1.5 Mbps to 80 Mbps.  Uploads are usually less than 5 Mbps.  Dependability has gotten much better – if service goes down, usually unplugging and rebooting your DSL router is all that is required.  If you have a lot of users, it may not the best internet connection to use for VoIP because of limited upload speeds. For a small office, VoIP should work just fine as long as you set up the service to prioritize voice traffic over other types of traffic such as browsing and email. The price has been dropping for higher speeds as these companies try to compete against the regional cable operators; typically the service costs less than $100 a month.

Cable:

Cable internet is the cable company’s answer to DSL.  It’s offered by companies like Cox, Spectrum, and Comcast. This service is delivered over coaxial cable and connects to your computer network using a cable modem.  The speed is not distance sensitive but is effected by number of users on the network.  Download speeds range from 3 Mbps to 1 Gbps.  Availability depends on a business’s location in relation to cable company’s network.  Cable companies have specific footprints that are franchised and in the past, they typically wouldn’t enter their competitor’s territory. As competition continues, local companies are installing more competing fiber and coax in the ground. 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 of 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 generally good, but like DSL, it operates “by next day” time frame for a repair tech visit.  Not the best internet connection to use for VoIP due to latency issues and services can be slower in the afternoon as kids in the area get home from school and begin to use resources for gaming and YouTube streaming. Price is comparable to DSL but can approach $300 per month for connections offering faster upload speeds.

Fixed Wireless:

Fixed wireless internet access is offered by smaller regional 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.)  Fixed 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’s towers.  Download and upload speeds range from 1 to 100 Mbps.  There is more overhead with wireless internet so you typically won’t receive the total bandwidth that you subscribe to.  Quality can be affected by the weather. This service can work quite well with VoIP as long as  you manage the routers and QoS priorities from beginning to end.  Price is lower than the phone company’s fiber optic services (or for those who still use T1 services) but usually more than DSL or cable because the fixed wireless providers aren’t typically competing against those services.  Moving can be an issue because wireless providers typically service specific regions of a city and in some instances, 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 fiber lines and that could be cut just as easily as the cable that supplies your wire based internet access. To get around this issue, you’ll want to ask the provider how many upstream carriers they use and how the fiber is routed. If they have multiple internet providers with fiber feeds from several directions, the reliability should dramatically increase.

Satellite:

With the advent of Elon Musk’s “Starlink” (a division of SpaceX) which is a high-speed connection with low-latency, it could be a game-changer for many remote users (and those in cities who don’t have access to fiber optics) across the globe. The pricing is $99 per month and the satellite equipment is about $500. The service is being rolled out as we speak and is spotty at the time of this writing (Early 2022). The big difference here is that Starlink uses low orbit satellites and will allow online gaming, video streaming, VoIP and even video calls. The expected speeds are 100 Mbps -200 Mbps. If you want this, go to their website, place and order and expect to wait several months depending upon your location. The author placed an order (for our cabin in South Dakota), waited about 8 months and finally received the hardware.

If you can’t get Starlink, and there are no other options, then old-school satellite is for you.  Download speeds are okay but inconsistent and uploads are slow and don’t work well for “real-time” needs such as gaming and some video applications. Available anywhere but is only purchased where there are no other options.  Priced like butter was in cold war USSR.  Not a great option for VoIP because of the low upload speeds it provides.

Integrated T1(not used much any longer):

Internet access and phone service delivered over a T1 connection.  This service is still offered by every major provider (but is less and less competitive), like CenturyLink/Lumen, AT&T and Verizon.  It had been a main staple of competitive local exchange carriers until it was overtaken by more reasonable fiber options and other services as listed above.  Integrated T1, where offered is still one of the lowest priced options 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 dedicated (not oversubscribed) and is very 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.  A small phone and internet bundle can be had for $200-$400 per month.

If you’d like to improve your company’s internet performance, let the telecom consultants at CarrierBid help you.  Prices have dropped and it’s possible to double or triple your internet speed and, at the same time, reduce your monthly cost.  To receive more information, complete the web form on the bottom of this page or give us a call.  

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