Sharing Business Broadband
Even small businesses can have
high performance dedicated Internet access by splitting the cost
of a T1 line.
By: John Shepler
Most businesses today have a need for fast,
reliable Internet access. For medium size businesses and large
enterprises, this is usually accomplished with a commercial grade
telecommunications connection such as dedicated T1 or T3 Internet
service, or even optical carrier connections. But for very small
businesses such as sales professionals, consultants or even small
retail shops, the cost of a high reliability telecom data line
leads them to settle for lower grade solutions such as Wireless,
DSL or Cable Internet. But there is a way to get both high performance
and low cost Internet service. It's called broadband sharing.
A Consumer Broadband No-No
On the consumer side, broadband sharing is frowned upon and often
prohibited by the service providers. Get caught providing WiFi
broadband for the neighborhood on your Cable Internet connection
and they'll cancel your service. The reason for this is that
you are not purchasing bandwidth, you are purchasing a service.
The ISP may advertise download rates up to several Mbps, but
these are estimates not promises. The fact is that the broadband
ISP is dividing up their bandwidth among hundreds or thousands
of customers. They oversubscribe or sell more bandwidth than
they actually have in order to keep the cost low. The assumption
is that only a portion of their customers will actually be online
at any given time. If you are giving away the service to your
neighbors, they not only lose a chance to sell broadband to those
people but exacerbate the oversubscription problem as well.
What's Different About Professional
Professional telecommunication bandwidth isn't sold that way.
When you lease a T1 dedicated Internet line you get 1.5 Mbps
in both the upload and download directions for your exclusive
use. Order a T3 line or DS3 service and you get 45 Mbps of exclusive
bandwidth. Optical carriers will give you bandwidths into the
Gbps range if you need that much. The other difference is that
these regulated telecommunications services come with SLAs or
Service Level Agreements to ensure that your line is available
when you need it, and fast repairs if there ever is an outage.
You can order a T1 dedicated Internet service
for your business and use it entirely for your own enterprise.
But a T1 line can actually support up to 25 users who are accessing
the Web or using email. What some smaller businesses do is pool
their resources and share the bandwidth of a single T1 line.
This is easy to do when each business has a suite in the same
building. The principal or building owner will have a VAR (Value
Added Reseller) create a building network with Ethernet jacks
in each suite. Wireless access points may also be installed for
laptop computer and PDA access. A T1 line configured for dedicated
Internet access and its associated T1 router will feed the network.
If even 10 or 12 offices participate, the monthly cost per office
can be comparable to consumer grade broadband offerings and perhaps
There's no need to worry about running
out of bandwidth. If participation gets so great that a T1 line
slows down, you can bond in additional T1 lines to double, triple
or otherwise increase bandwidth in 1.5 Mbps increments.
How Business Owners Share Bandwidth
This is such an attractive option that some building owners will
install T1 dedicated Internet service and include access in the
monthly rent for businesses, condos or apartments. Virtual office
complexes rent small office spaces or shared space to consultants
and sales people who only occasionally need a desk or conference
room. Shared broadband is a perfect value added solution.
Industrial parks go even further by setting
up fiber optic networks to interconnect the various facilities
into a high speed data network. Dedicated internet access can
be provided by DS3 at 45 Mbps, OC3 at 155 Mbps, OC12 at 622 Mbps
or OC48 at 2.5 Gbps. Carrier Ethernet or GigE can also be provisioned.
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