If you are hunting for broadband internet access for your business, there are a lot of options, but the two most popular choices for a business are T1 & DSL. When you figure out that DSL is around $45/month and T1’s are $300/month and up, it’s pretty obvious that there must be a difference. But what could possibly make a T1 line cost 3-10 times as much as DSL? It’s all the same internet, right?
Really, the difference comes down to reliability. If you want reliable (i.e. 99.9%+ guaranteed) internet speed at all times, then a T1 is probably a good bet. If you don’t need reliability, then DSL might be fine for you. Let me explain…
A T1 is a dedicated internet connection that reliably delivers 1.5 Mbps (broadband) speed – and it is guaranteed to be that fast by the T1 provider (through an SLA). Virtually all T-1s from Tier 1 providers are under an SLA and MTTR (Mean time to respond/repair) agreement – so if the provider doesn’t fix your problem, they will be faced with a loss of revenue – which motivates people to do their job! Typical SLAs provide for 99.9% up-time, or ~2 hours of downtime per month, and some carriers go to 99.99% or 99.999% up-time on their T-1 service. So, your $300+/month is buying you peace of mind and a guaranteed speed. This might be really important if you host your own website, download/upload a lot of large files, or use your internet connection for Voice-over-IP. Generally, when Bandwidth.com sells VoIP service to a business, we look for at least T1 speed and reliability.
In contrast, DSL can give you speed (some claim, up to 20 Mbps) – but you never really know what speed you are going to get. Why? Because you essentially share your bandwidth with other customers who are on the same “line” as you are. As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper the price of the DSL, the more people you share the bandwidth with (DSL providers drive cost down by putting more and more subscribers on a single connection – this is called oversubscription and it is a widespread practice among low-cost ISPs boasting cheap and fast DSL). So, if you can live with your broadband speed being variable, then the low-cost of DSL might be for you. For example, if you are only doing e-mail and normal web surfing for your business, DSL might be fine.
There are a few other differences, like upload speed or where your office is located related to your carrier’s network (DSL might be really slow if you are too far away, for example, so you might have to go with T1). But, basically, your decision comes down to how reliable you need your broadband Internet connection to be. Contact us if you have any more questions.
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