Monday, December 11, 2006

Will Fractional T1 solve this problem?

Here's the picture you're looking at:

You have a small business....with less than 10 employees....who are all hooked into a router attached to a DSL modem.

You all need to be logged into an online database through the internet all day. You and your staff access the database to do lots of data entry as well as uploading of files. When all of you are logged in, the upload/download speed frequently is incredibly slow.

When you run DSL speed tests on any of your office machines, it shows around 1.1 mbps in the morning. By mid-afternoon, the speeds are down to 600 kbps on most of the machines. You've even seen them as low as 350 kbps.

Would a Fractional T1 solve this problem? Fractional T1s in your area run around $290/month. You don't believe a standard internet 1.5mbps T1 line is really affordable for you at $399/month. (Dollar figures are just an example for purposes of this article).

Well.....here's your answer:

Reliability, dependability, and fitness for a particular purpose have more to do with the shared nature of the services that you are using than they do with "speed". DSL is a shared resource service. Shared means that many customers are sharing an underlying internet backbone connection....that's why your speeds drop during the day ... more users are watching music videos from home in the afternoon than during the morning, sucking up all the provider's bandwidth. If the "fractional T1" provider will also be sharing their connection to the internet backbone with many of their customers, then you will likely find the same thing at the new carrier, though the busy times would be different.

The provider offering you a "T1" for $399/month is also likely sharing their backbone connection.

Remember that a shared service provider will measure speed from his office to your office, and not guarantee throughput to the internet backbone. If the shared provider has a 45M connection, and he sells 30 customers a 1.5M connection, what happens to the 31st customer? A shared provider will plop him on the same connection. Same thing with the 32nd customer, and the 33rd customer, and that's where speed problems arise.

What you need is a dedicated connection to the internet backbone, where you have your own slice of bandwidth that is not shared with other users. You say you can't afford $399. That's $20/day. That's one hour of a decent employee. What you can't afford is problems with your internet circuit, and shared connections are causing you problems.

However....before changing out the network facility and rushing to more bandwidth, first give the current carrier the chance to troubleshoot what might be broken!

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