Networking

Can cheap broadband displace the traditional communications infrastructure?

Would you be willing to replace your traditional leased line with a "business class" broadband connection? Take this poll to share your response.

Over the last few years, broadband technologies such as DSL, cable modems, and FiOS have become cheaper, faster, and more reliable. The providers of these services now offer "business class" versions, which typically come with some sort of quality of service guarantees, such as minimum bandwidth, uptime, technician response rate, and so on. These "business class" offerings provide static IPs and often even have the option of managed services.

Many companies are considering switching from expensive but traditional technologies such as T1 and T3 lines to the "business class" offerings. But some companies are still doubtful that these services (which were sprung from consumer-grade technologies) can meet their needs.

J.Ja

Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

15 comments
tmp69
tmp69

Oh yes absolutely, you are completely right. I do thing that cheap broadband is the future and if there is a convenient way of you to compare these packages it'd be even best http://broadbandinspector.com

normhaga
normhaga

using broadband. 10 m down averages 13, 1.5 m up averages 2. When the system went down, Comcast had one of their tech onsite in two hours and fixed in, the first time, 5 minutes, and the second two days - lighting struck one of their stations. The first fix, lighting fried the attenuator outside the building; the second took out a station two up stream from us. The network issues I agree with JJ. I am looking into placing a Web server outside the main network and looping back to it with an IDS. Still thinking on this matter. Because of the cost differential, we are moving outsourced services, such as web hosting, inhouse. While there are many intended uses, one of the primary uses is incoming video streams from one branch that records presentations remotely. I ran some P2P to test for filtering and could find none.

Jaqui
Jaqui

on exactly what the needs of the enterprise are as to if it will fit. for my own small business, the $150.00 CDN / mo for it is a far better cost than a T1, and the service is good. $150.00 gets you land line, long distance, call answer, call waiting, call display, static ip, 500 GB offsite data backup, fairly decent upload / download speeds and only limit for data transfer I have is the physical limit of the line, 5 isp email addresses, and the normal isp firewall and av protection upstream. Yet they do not interfere with any traffic, like blocking ports for servers / services. I think there is more included with the "bundle" but I don't even use all of what I listed. :D [ the data safe backup service requires windows, so it's of no use to me without windows on my systems, I have 2 email domains, with unlimited addresses on them, why do I need isp email for? ;) I don't need the web space they make available, except for use as a re-direct if site has to go down temporarily. ] optional services include hosted pbx systems. Most office type use only, it could fit the bill, for single office companies. I would think that a multi branch enterprise with fairly high data transfer use would still be better of with the "traditional" service. Then the connection device is a serious issue for heavy use, ost are consumer grade evices, and will not support the heavy use of a major Enterprise operation.

bandman
bandman

I'm in the middle of getting a dedicated circuit to replace the DSL at an office with 7 people. Best effort services are much faster than the normal T1 dedicated circuit, but when reliability is more important, I need to know that I have an SLA, and that I'm not going to be on hold in a queue during an outage.

Justin James
Justin James

How do you feel about broadband in the enterprise replacing traditional services like T1 and T3 lines? Too unreliable? Poor service? Or is the price and performance good enough? J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

For less than that here, I'd also get cable TV. :) But yeah, it really depends on the enterprise's needs. There are some things (like low latency, fast upload speeds) that a T1 does *really* well; someone doing a ton of video streaming, for example, might be better off with a T1 (all quality of service issues aside, of course). Another advantage to the T1s is that the ISPs/departments handling them better understand the needs of businesses, in terms of support. With my "business class" cable modem, for example, they don't "get" the needs of an office moving like a T1 carrier does... they don't understand, for example, that I need the new service connected and working before I can disconnect the equipment and move it there in the middle of the night... no, I will NOT meet you at the new location with my modem, router, and server to test at 2 PM! J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Yeah, I know what you mean about that. A lot of it depends on the provider. I have a "business class" cable modem from Time Warner in my home office. I have an SLA, my bandwidth is guaranteed (not "best effort"), once my traffic is at the office it runs on a backbone separate from the residential cable modems, and my tech support calls go straight to Level 2 in the US, and bypass Level 1 in India. Overall, I'm happy with it. My biggest issue though, is that without settping up to some monstrously expensive fiber plan, the IP addressing scheme is still not suitable for usage with a "real" router. In other words, instead of assigning an IP to the outside of my router that is for use only in the ISP's cloud, and having the public IP's in my DMZ, the public IP needs to be on the outside of my router. FiOS (even "business class") is the same way too. This makes traditional IP addressing schemes difficult, if not impossible. J.Ja

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

when available (many rural areas still don't have broadband available). It is plenty good enough for the web and terminal based applications used at those sites, and it's far better than the dial-up we must use at some locations, and almost as cheap.

mjmurdza
mjmurdza

I just completed an exhaustive proof-of-concept and pilot of various DSL, cable and wireless offerings from multiple providers. An less common requirement, at least for us, is symmetric bandwidth. Our WAN optimization/app acceleration solution expects the link bw to be symmetrical to and from the data center. Most BB offerings are asymmetrical. The symmetrical offerings carry premium price tags. Secondly, the lack of DiffServ QoS support kills any chance of us using it to backup our IP telephony trunks. I thought "what's the point if it can't backup our VoIP traffic?". One of the SP's I piloted with does have plans to roll out QoS on their biz class DSL products, but exactly how many classes and markings was still unknown. I couldn't find any cable or wireless SP's that offered QoS on their offerings. I think the market just hasn't made QoS a big issue yet. Lastly, well-defined SLA's on BB from most SP's are hard to come by, even on biz class offerings. I defined 100ms one-way latency as my maximum, rather liberal I thought, for any BB solution to meet my selection criteria. Many products averaged far better than 100ms one-way but only one SP would actually guarantee it. In the end, we found 1.5K SDSL to be the only viable broadband offering that met even some of our requirements. With monthly recurring costs on a 1.5K SDSL not much better than our contractual T1 pricing with our primary SP, it just doesn't make good fiscal sense to migrate. Until the SP's start enabling mainstream WAN features on their BB networks and make the contractual pricing more attractive I won't be using BB services as a primary link at any of my remote locations.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Went from 3 T-1's down to 2 simply because what Time Warner now calls their VersiPak service. VersiPak essentially bonds two or more T-1's together. So, we combine voice and data (giving voice priority). Download speed ranges from 1.5 to 3.0 (with 2 T's) depending on how many people are on the phone. Still T-1 quality, slightly cheaper since we were able to consolidate and drop a T. Probably saved us $400 a month and since we are heavier on the data usuage side and less on the voice side, we now average about 2.5 Mbps as opposed to the old 1.5. I'd be quite interested in other services, however, in my 3 1/2 years here at my current employer, I've only seen our T-1's go down once. That is incredibly hard to beat and management unfortunately knows it. They see the quality and are willing to pay for it.

Jaqui
Jaqui

that if I had gone the cable route it would have been more, for less services. [ $167.00 / mo CDN, 4GB CAP on data transfer / mo, no overage allowed, no static ip, nothing but internet and basic cable, 10 email addresses, packet shaping of torrents ( and downloading 4.3 GB isos of distros via torrent is a common activity for me so that was a complete deal killer ) ] and the local telco isn't much better. the "competition" telco I get my pppoe dsl from is actually cheap for what they offer. Service: one replacement dsl modem [ overheated and fried ] 2 days, from Toronto to Vancouver, return postage for dead one included. [ 2 days was weekend actually, postal service no deliver on weekends here ] speed for up and down is "supposed" to be 5Mb/s but I'm getting almost double. Tech support, took a day to get the service up, longer than scheduled, but was the local telco playing games. In Canada, local telco, and cable also, have to make their infrastructure available to their competition by federal regulation, so the local companies try to screw around during setup to harm the other companies reputation. You can look at Shaw.ca and Telus.com to see their packages and rates for small business, both cost far more than Primus.ca who I went with.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

of the T1 line, we just switched to Nuvox and have 2 T1s bonded into one pipe and then we split that between 2 businesses in one warehouse, each business is saving several hundred a month now and has increased potential bandwidth. I have no stats on reliability since we have only been on the service for 1 month, but our previous provider had 8 hours of downtime in the previous 3 years, and that was due to a major flood. My cable at home has dns issues and bandwidth flux on a regular basis. I would gladly trade my 5M/386k cable for a 1.5/1.5 any day of the week.

Justin James
Justin James

Wow, that's a lot! I know that Shaw is horrid, when I was doing network management, their lines were constantly bouncing up and down to a zillion locations. J.Ja

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Our VersiPak was installed in our home office but we have 25 communities spread throughout Indiana and each has business class cable or DSL and many of them have 2 connections per location. Cable and DSL, even business class, is a freaking nightmare. They go down at least once a week usually only briefly but they do. And tech support is a joke. I actually call the consumer 800 number for service on a few of them because I think they answer the phone faster. Here, the cable companies are Comcast and Brighthouse and the DSL is primarily AT&T with a few Verizons sprinkled in. I do have to admit, as painful as it is, that AT&T is the best of the losers. While their service isn't exactly a model of success, it is the best of the worst. The lone exception is the AT&T fiber service. I'm lucky to get a returned call within a few days (yes days) if I call them for help.

Justin James
Justin James

One thing is true, broadband (even "business class") can be very flaky... T1s are almost never flaky, period. My personal broadband connection, rock solid. It goes down a few minutes a *year*, just like a T1, and I get nearly symetrical service (1 up, 2 down). But I also know that this is a rarity. J.Ja