Types Of Internet Connections For Business

Business Internet Connection Options

The world of Internet access can be a confusing one with many different types of Internet connections for business. It is easy to just look at a providers package speed or cost, and assume everything else is the same. That is where many people are mistaken and end up going with a business Internet service that does not address their needs.  The end result is usually poor application performance, downtime, and unneeded headaches.

Basically there are two types of networks used for business Internet connections, shared and dedicated networks. There are many differences between these two networks types, applications they support, and the value offered.

Shared Networks

This is the most common type of business Internet connection due to its low cost, high download speeds, and general availability. These types of Internet connections are typically used by small businesses, retail establishments, or as backup connectivity for larger organizations. The difference between these connections and a home Internet service is minimal. It is basically the same exact service with the word “business” added to it.

Being a shared network, you share the bandwidth of a common network connection at the providers local node/box with other users in the area. Because this bandwidth is shared, speeds will fluctuate with the overall connection load by users. Also, the network performance will vary as well for latency, packet loss, and jitter.

This is a major downside to these types of business Internet services, since they can affect many critical applications like VOIP, video, and cloud apps. These types of business Internet connections are usually asymmetrical, meaning a high download but slow upload speeds. Sending large emails, files, streaming, data backup, can all be severely impacted or nearly impossible to do.

Then there is the issue of reliability and downtime. Shared networks are not engineered to the same level of performance as dedicated networks. The result is that these networks are susceptible to outages, which can last hours to days. Service providers also do not prioritize shared network service outages like dedicated networks, so repair times are extended as well. This is why this type of business Internet connection is also known as a “best effort” service, due to no performance or reliability guarantees (aka SLA).

Here are the most common types of shared network connections:

  • DSL – Digital Subscriber Line
  • Cable – Coax Internet
  • Shared Fiber – Branded Fios, AT&T Business Fiber, Centurylink Fiber+, Google Fiber, others
  • Wireless – 4G/5G, Hotspots, Satellite

Dedicated Networks

These are highly reliable networks, that are not shared, and offer great performance and bandwidth speeds. Dedicated Internet connections are engineered and delivered to your site so that bandwidth is fixed and performance guaranteed, also called a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Bandwidth speeds are symmetrical and do not fluctuate, whether it is uploading or downloading data. This ensures consistent performance along with low latency, packet loss, and jitter, no matter the time or day.

This type of Internet connection for business is used by larger organizations with mission critical applications that require high QoS or reliability. Applications like VOIP, video, and cloud are all well supported by this connection type. Service provider support is also prioritized for these customers so that mean time to repair is guaranteed to be 4hrs or less.

The only major downside to dedicated networks are the business Internet connection costs. If the building is not already fiber lit, the cost can be high. Most businesses view the higher cost as similar to paying for an insurance policy. The SLA included with dedicated service provides for credits on any outage lasting more than a few minutes a month. This provides additional peace of mind that any extended outage will have financial consequences to the provider. Downtime and lost productivity of employees for just an hour will probably cost you much more than the money saved going with a shared network service.

Dedicated Internet is available in a few types of access options:

  • Fiber – Ethernet over Fiber (Most Common)
  • Copper – Ethernet over Copper (Limited Availability)
  • Wireless – Fixed Wireless (Line of Sight, Urban Areas)

Comparing Business Internet Services

NetworkSpeedsSLAQoSReliabilityAccessBest ApplicationsCost
DSLSharedAsymmetricalNoLowLowCopperWeb, Email, Backup, Low QoSLow
CableSharedAsymmetricalNoLowLowCopper/CoaxWeb, Email, Backup, Low QoSLow
Shared FiberSharedAsymmetrical, SymmetricalNoLowMediumFiberWeb, Email, Backup, Low QoS, Basic CloudLow
4/5G WirelessSharedAsymmetricalNoLow-MediumMediumWirelessWeb, Email, Backup, Low QoS,Low
SatelliteSharedAsymmetricalNoLowLowWirelessWeb, Email, Backup, Low QoS, RedundancyLow
T1DedicatedSymmetricalYesHighHighCopperHigh QoS, VOIP, Low Bandwidth ApplicationsMedium
Dedicated EthernetDedicatedSymmetricalYesHighHighFiber, CopperHigh QoS, Cloud, Data Backup, VOIP, VideoMedium-High
Fixed WirelessDedicatedSymmetricalYesMediumMediumWirelessMedium QoS, Cloud, Backup, VOIP, Video,Medium-High

What Type of Business Internet Connection Should I Get?

In order to determine the right type of business Internet connection needed you have to look at a few factors. First would be your budget, if cost is the only concern and it is limited, then a shared network connection is really your only choice. If business use is limited to Internet browsing, emails, basic applications, and you can tolerate the occasional downtime and performance issues, then a shared service would be fine as well.

On the other hand if you have applications like VOIP, video, cloud, or other mission critical apps, you have to look at more than cost. Then you add issues related to downtime and performance, and the choice is clear. A dedicated connection is the only viable option that will address those needs and concerns. Budget, applications, desired performance, are all major factors when choosing the right type of Internet connection for business.