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Not All Internet Is Created Equal

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

In the many years I have been in the telecommunications and technology field one misunderstanding seems to continue to be prevalent, that all you need to consider when looking for internet is the bandwidth/speed and price. There are many other factors to consider when exploring the right solution for your needs.

Let’s take a look at the types of internet available based on the transport media used…

1) Copper phone lines – Provided by the phone company and a lower cost solution. Frequently this is going to be ADSL or SDSL. This is not ideal and tends to be a slower technology but is better than nothing. It is also distance sensitive meaning that the farther you are from the telephone company central office the less bandwidth/speed available.

2) Coax – Provided by the cable company, also one of the lowest cost solutions. This is the same cable (coax) that the TV runs over. Speeds appear fast but are asymmetrical, higher download and lower upload. They are also a Best Effort solution meaning that the speeds that are “up to” a designated speed but the provider will make no promises as to actual speeds that the clients will get. These are contention-based pipes to the internet meaning that everyone in the area will be on the same pipe and share the bandwidth that is provided, so the speeds can sometimes fluctuate dramatically.

3) Fiber - Provided by several companies. Typically, the phone company and cable company will offer this as an option however often there are other independent companies that also can offer fiber in your area. Fiber has the fastest capabilities and has may advantages over the copper medias like DSL and cable. Fiber is also more secure

than its copper counterparts. However, note, not all fiber is the same. Here are the two primary types of fiber offerings available, Best Effort and DIA.

a. Best Effort fiber is exactly what it says, it is going to provide speeds that are “up to” a designated number, just like coax. This competes with cable as the solution is asymmetrical and tends to be priced similar to cable. Like cable and DSL, no Service Level Agreements (SLA) are available with this service and bandwidth speeds will fluctuate because it is also contention based.

b. DIA, or Dedicated Internet Access, is the premium internet service. This is a dedicated fiber circuit that is just for that client. Speeds are symmetrical and are guaranteed, for instance if you pay for 500M x 500M, you get just that. There is no contention for the bandwidth and in most cases and SLA. This means that the provider will guarantee a certain percentage of uptime like 99.99% or 99.999%. If the provider fails to live up to that expectation, then they will financially reimburse the clients affected. You will also find the fastest support response time, usually this too is written into the SLA. This is the most expensive option of all the alternative but in many cases is well worth the money.

4) Satellite

This is great in areas where the other types of internet listed above are not available, usually because it is too rural. The speeds can be good but some of the challenges are that they often will have rate limiting meaning that you will be able to get a set amount of bandwidth per month. When you exceed that limit, they will typically either slow down the internet connection or charge you extra for the excessive usage. Prices are varied but usually closer to a higher bandwidth coax solution.

5) 4G/5G Cellular Wireless

This is becoming more popular in areas, like satellite, where other options are not available. But they to typically rate limit your data usage and either slow down the connection or charge premiums for overage. This can be ideal as a backup solution as it a completely different media. If a phone pole or cable gets taken down this will not affect wireless. It is also quick and easy to set up and great for short term or mobile needs. Pricing can be very reasonable as a backup connection, but as a primary connection it can get expensive if you use a lot of bandwidth.

In summary, when looking at internet you need consider your specific business needs. If having an internet connection that is always up and you are not tolerant of outages, then you will want to lean toward fiber, ideally Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) if your budget can afford it. However, if you cannot afford DIA and Best Effort fiber is available then it can be a very nice alternative. You will get many of the benefits of fiber but at a lower price. If Best Effort fiber is not available, then next best option will be Coax, and it can be a good value for the money but expect more outages. DSL should be your last option before we look at wireless options and again, is better than nothing.

Bottom line, find an advisor, like Genesis Business Advisors, which can research all the options available to you and help you find the best solution available for your organization. They know all the resources and technologies and can best guide you instead of you wasting your valuable time trying to figure it out on your own. Genesis can be found at or call us at 919-371-8405.

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