Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who Is The Best Business Broadband Provider?

This question is often asked by IT staff at any given business …. but what they really mean is “who is the best business broadband provider …. for ME?” Even more specifically … “who can give me exactly what I need ….. where I need it …. to do what I have to do with my data/voice network?”

If you ask this ….. read on so you’ll be better positioned to ask the question in a more meaningful way; and get a response that makes the most business sense for your specific situation.

Most importantly ….. to get a complete and worthwhile answer ... there really needs to be more information provided which better describes exactly what your requirements are.

What is the exact location or locations? What is your budget? What applications must your network support (voice, data, multi-media, conferencing, number of users, 1 or more locations - single building or campus, etc.). What's your current usage? What’s your projected future usage? What do you have now (T1, DS3, etherent, etc.)? What’s your current uptime, latency, SLA, and QoS? Who's your current provider? Are you currently under a contract and when does it run out?

Don’t focus solely on speed … or price either. You also need to consider uptime, latency, packet forwarding, and other issues. Both in analyzing your current “state” …. and estimating your future “grow to”.

First start by asking yourself which applications you need to run over the link. People don't buy networks, they buy access to applications.

Then you need to look at the expected usage over the link. The profile of the applications is also important -- are they latency constrained? Are they bandwidth hogs? Is it sporadic access or sustained? Are you bringing Internet over the link?

How far apart are your sites (if this is a multi-site install)? Will that introduce latency? Is that latency going to be a problem?

You also have to look at what you can get. Maybe all you can get is a T1.

Depending on the answers above, you might also need to look at WAN acceleration, Citrix, or other such technologies to get around application limitations. Some applications just don't work well when they're separated by their users by more than a few milliseconds.

That said .... initially I'd lean toward a T1; probably integrated (voice and data). But that will depend on number of users and load (video conferencing, large multi-media file sharing, etc.) and so forth. You might need to go bonded T1 or DS3 (T3) bandwidth if your load/usage is large. If available, ethernet should be an option at least from a cost effectiveness standpoint.

As for a provider .... shop around. Remember that location is key when buying broadband. Use a consultant who can talk the language and negotiate for you. If you do this yourself you'll get frustrated, spend a lot of time and effort, and likely be talked into something you really don't need ... at a cost more than you should pay. If you’d like free help with this …. I strongly recommend the no cost services at:

Compare Broadband Provider

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