There are a huge variety of Internet access solutions out there for your business. Understanding your options and objectives is critical to keeping costs low while getting the amount of service that you need.
Below are the most common services use by businesses based on their size:
Small & Medium Sized Businesses (1-500 employees)
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): DSL provides a medium level of Internet access for low cost. This is a residential-class technology so there is generally no SLA provided for uptime. Generally the maximum DSL speed that you can get is 6mb down and 1.5mb up. There are many flavors of DSL. ADSL (Asynchronous) is the type of DSL described above and is the most common type of service ordered. SDSL (S=Synchronous) is a DSL connection with equal up and download speeds (e.g. 3mb up and 3mb down). These types of connections are more rare and generally more costly but sometimes necessary for businesses looking for a faster upload rates from a DSL connection. As a rule, whenever cable is available we will recommend it before DSL. However, as a rule, DSL is generally more available than cable, especially in more rural markets.
Cable: Cable internet connectivity provides the most bandwidth for the least amount of expense. However, like DSL, this is considered a residential class technology and SLAs for uptime are usually non-existent. Clients can typically expect connections as high as 16mb down and 7mb up, all the way up to 100mb down and 50mb up. Cable also is usually more geographically constrained then say DSL for example. It is most prevalent in metropolitan markets.
T1s & Bonded T1s: A business T1 is considered the smallest business-class connection available and is a line with dedicated access to the Internet and a guaranteed upload and download rate of 1.5mb. Unlike cable and DSL, these lines generally include a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees this rate, and if the speed is not met the customer will receive monetary compensation. T1 lines can also be bonded to improve bandwidth performance. For example you can bond two T1 lines together for a 3mb connection, or three for a 4.5mb connection. However, bonding can be costly. Usually at this point a client is ready to look at Metro-Ethernet or some other fiber service.
Metro-Ethernet: Metro-E probably the highest level of internet that a small or medium sized business would need. Metro Ethernet service can link your local and regional offices using an established, familiar technology that is being used in many existing LANs today. It can support high-speed data, Internet, voice over IP (VoIP), video and other applications with flexible speeds ranging from 10mbs to 10 Gbps (up and down). If your business has multiple office locations that need to be interconnected and you use a VoIP phone system, Metro-E services are generally the prescribed solution.
For most small businesses we find that using cable (or DSL if cable is not available) as a primary Internet connection and having a T1 as a failover works best. These days most firewalls can accommodate 2 or more incoming Internet connections and can handle the failover automatically in the event of an outage. This way you can use the internet at very fast speeds but have an SLA guaranteed line to failover too if your cheaper connection goes down. For businesses that have any infrastructure in the cloud, two connections of some kind is a “must have”.
Large Businesses (500+ employees)
Metro-Ethernet: Metro-E is almost always the prescribed solution for large businesses. Metro Ethernet service can link your local and regional offices using an established, familiar technology that is being used in many existing LANs today. It can support high-speed data, Internet, voice over IP (VoIP), video and other applications with flexible speeds ranging from 10mbs to 10 Gbps (up and down). If your business has multiple office locations that need to be interconnected and you use a VoIP phone system, Metro-E services are generally the prescribed solutions
Fixed Wireless Internet & 4g LTE: An alternative internet connection service when other types of connections are unavailable or too costly, or, when the location of the business is constantly changing (such as a construction trailer). Speeds of 1-10mb are generally available for Fixed Wireless and more for 4G LTE connections.
Point-to-Point Circuits: These a private line that connects two points together and is always on. Companies pay a monthly charge based on the distance between the two points and the speed required. The line is generally a dedicated T1 (or set of bonded T1 lines) or a Metro-Ethernet connection. Financial institutions often use these types of connections because they considered secure in that that do not provide access to the internet. The connection is strictly between the two end-points.
MPLS: This is a new kind of point-to-point service that is capable of bringing together connections types that use different protocols and circuit types (for example, a T1, DS3 line and an Frame Relay line). In most cases, MPLS is used to connect branch office together that need to keep information secure and that need to some level of quality of service (QoS) for VoIP phone system interconnectivity between offices.