Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Part II: Tier 1 Or Tier 2 Bandwidth Provider .... Which Would You Choose For A Bandwidth Solution & Why?

Assuming you only have only one connection, and all other things being equal (e.g. pricing, distance, bandwidth, connection to satelite offices, etc), I would seriously consider a Tier 2 provider with links to multiple Tier 1 providers.

Wide-area network outages are rare these days, but having a connection (even once removed) to multiple providers is an added comfort. Your Tier 2 provider should also be able to route traffic to the destination Tier 1 provider which can have some increase in end-to-end speed or latency. In this case any benefit on going Tier 1 over Tier 2 would be marginal. Tier 2 providers may be able to reroute you faster if there is an outage within one provider, and often offer non-technical advantages. Tier 1 providers make a big ado about being Tier 1. But they're also marred with stories of peering failures, localized network failures, and problems getting diverse network connections in colocation agreements.

Non-technically speaking, a smaller provider may also provide better customer service to smaller customers. Also, although I prefaced this with "all things being equal", Tier 2 providers are generally cheaper, and sometimes reach to more remote locations. They may also provide value-added services beyond those of Tier 1.

Generally the term "Tier 2" implies a lesser service … whether it's true or not. The implication behind Tier 1 vs Tier 2 is closer to "Mercedes Benz vs. Ford" than it is to "Blue vs. Red".

I would choose a Tier 1 provider (or two) for larger bandwidth preferably split over multiple connections to different providers. You have reliability, can control your traffic, and have a full pipe to the network. This all implies a more complicated network setup, so prepare to have an engineer or hire a consultant to configure the routers, and of course budget for bigger better routers. I would also choose a Tier 1 provider if you want to connect multiple networks in remote locations … Tier 2 providers, although they may reach further within their areas of operation, will generally not operate in too many metro areas.

For help in making the best decision on a bandwidth solution ... take advantage of the free assistance available here:

Bandwidth Solution

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