For many people, cost is a main deciding factor when it comes to choosing between two services or products. Customers choosing between DIA and Broadband Internet service are no different. They want to maximize their dollar, and they often want the most service for the least amount of money. But as we’ve discovered over the years as a telecommunications consulting agency, the more expensive product might be far more valuable for a particular company. Many times, it’s worth that extra cost.
So you might ask (and many people do): If I can get a 50Mb circuit for $2, why would I even consider buying a 10Mb circuit for $10? We get this question all the time. It’s a good ask from any well-meaning company employee trying to make sure they get the best value in their Internet circuit. But we are not comparing apples to apples here.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all Internet service is created equally. It’s easy to try and simplify what most individuals have come to think of as a commodity product. But the reality is that a data network is a very complex machine. It’s much like the way you can easily spot the difference between a Ford Mustang and a Ferrari. They are both sports cars, but there is a reason they have very different prices attached to them. There is a difference in quality and craftsmanship and in what each car can deliver. To make another analogy, consider the difference between a pick-up and a 4-door sedan. Each vehicle serves a different purpose, depending on what the driver wants and how they plan to use it. Different forms of Internet Access can serve different purposes for end users, too.
To keep things simple, I will compare Broadband service to DIA (Dedicated Internet Access). Both will get you to the Internet, but each one is very different from the other.
Broadband Internet access most commonly comes in two flavors: Cable Modem and DSL. Both services are delivered via a network that largely supports residential home use. Those demands on the network at home are growing almost daily thanks to trends like streaming video service and IoT (Internet of Things). Nonetheless, these networks not built to a mission critical specification. If your Internet goes out at home it is annoying for sure, but it is usually nothing more than an annoyance. This type of service is referred to as “Best Effort.” This is not a vague or made up term: it is literally found in most ISP’s Terms of Service / Service Level Agreements. The ISP will make their Best Effort to keep your Internet uptime and performance high, but ultimately the network is built to leverage thousands of connections at the same time for as little money as possible. It is a network you share with all of your neighbors, and it can drop in performance if too many people are using it at the same time.
It’s also important to consider that your bandwidth on Broadband services is not symmetrical. Remember you have data traffic going in (when you download) and out (when you upload). The speed of this traffic varies. For instance, when you look at your Broadband speed as part of your package, you will see something like 50Mb/5Mb. In this case, you have a download speed of 50Mbps and an upload speed of 5Mb. However, this speed is not in any way guaranteed or backed up by an SLA (Service Level Agreement). This is likely good enough for home use. Nevertheless, it may not be good enough for the office as you tend to send a lot more information out to the Internet at work: things like your data back-up, large email attachments, and file uploads for services like Dropbox.
Moreover, even when you purchase “Business Internet” from a cable company, you are receiving your service from the same residential network. There is no difference in service aside from the support number you call if you run into a problem.
As such, Broadband certainly has its place, but you need to consider your uptime and the productivity of your company before choosing this service for your company. Is the cost of your employees’ time reliant on a cheap connection? Just run the numbers: what does one hour of downtime cost your company? If you have 10 employees that together have salaries of $50,000, the cost can be quite staggering. In many cases, it’s far more costly than the price of DIA.