Business Buyer Beware: Dedicated Internet Access Isn’t All the Same

Originally Published: 03/25/2021

How to Source Connections Built for Guaranteed Speed and Uptime

Business continuity is more important than ever, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that disrupted business operations internally and externally. If it wasn’t already clear, you now know that reliable business internet connectivity is fundamental for survival in today’s business world. High-quality, dedicated internet keeps your business connected to customers, partners and staff, and guarantees access to your data and critical business applications whenever you need it.

However, not all dedicated internet connections are the same. It’s important to understand critical differences in the types of circuits, reliability, speed, service levels and support. Before we dig into those differences, let’s start with what exactly dedicated internet access, or DIA, is and how it differs from broadband.

Dedicated Internet Visual Map

What is Dedicated Internet Access?

Dedicated Internet Access, or DIA, is an internet connection that is completely dedicated to your business.

DIA is particularly beneficial to businesses that need constant access to cloud applications or often stream videos or webinars. Any communication – whether it be high-volume emails, instant messages or Zoom calls – is enhanced by the speed and capacity of DIA. The dedicated bandwidth also makes transferring and sharing files easier— especially if those files are typically very large (like in a creative organization like a marketing agency, architecture firm or engineering practice).

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DIA vs. Broadband

The alternative to dedicated internet is shared internet. Shared internet connections, aka broadband internet (like cable), while typically less expensive, are shared with other users, so the traffic throughput is more crowded and slower. When using DIA instead of broadband, businesses notice the difference in speed, security and scalability.

  • Speed

The No. 1 reason to secure dedicated internet is so your internet speeds don’t fluctuate. For example, if your company purchases a 100Mbps dedicated internet service, you’re guaranteed to receive 100Mbps. It’s also symmetrical – meaning you get 100Mbps for both download and upload bandwidth.

However, when it comes to broadband, your shared internet connection is like traveling through a busy highway. When there’s lots of traffic on the highway, it takes you longer to reach your destination. Similarly, when your internet connection is shared, your data takes longer to travel across the network.

In contrast, DIA access is like having the highway all to yourself. With DIA, the internet connection is fully dedicated to your data traffic only. Consistent bandwidth is vital if your company uses real-time applications like unified communications, video conferencing or collaboration software, or when your company has remote users, branch offices or other operational needs that require always-on connections.

Keep in mind that broadband service providers advertise their maximum speed, which is likely to be achieved when very few people are using that shared connection. (Read: The middle of the night). With DIA, there’s no fluctuation in speed…or in the speed promise. It’s like the wide-open Autobahn every working minute of every day.

  • Security

All businesses are concerned with the security of their data. Many customers find DIA superior to broadband when it comes to security because data travels point to point instead of being transmitted over a line or fiber that everyone is using. Fewer entities with access to your network means fewer potential points of failure.

DIA is often referred to as the “prioritize and protect” option for this reason. Businesses are inherently more insulated from threats while using a network dedicated to only their traffic.

  • Scalability

Think of dedicated internet access as completely customized and customizable. Not only do you start with exactly the capacity you need, but you also can easily scale up and scale down. For some, the flexibility that dedicated internet offers – since you’re on a customized plan that you can amend as needed – is reason enough to go the DIA route. You get ALL of the bandwidth you pay for when you need it and can scale your network when your needs change.

Shared Internet vs. Dedicated Internet Routes

DIA vs. Broadband for Hybrid Work Environments

As pandemic restrictions lift, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay. Moving forward, most companies will allow large swaths of their workforces to continue to work from home at least some of the time. Some will operate office-free, but most will seek to capture the best of both (office and remote) worlds through a combination of work-from-office and work-from-home (or work-from-anywhere) scheduling.

This hybrid model – considered by many to be the model of the future – will necessarily employ broadband connections from employee homes. But, what about the office? Here, DIA delivers distinct advantages, including:

  • Hybrid Work Connection Redundancy: You know how all those Unified Communications (UC) apps advertise the ability to help you keep your operations running during office outages by virtue of sending your employees home, where they can work from their remote connections? The same principle applies in reverse. In fact, remote employees experience more internet downtime than employees working from the office. That’s because they rely on broadband connections that are subject to all the challenges we’ve been covering here. Having a reliable DIA connection available at the office when employees experience outages – or even excessively slow connectivity – from broadband providers ensures operational continuity.
  • Congestion-Proof Office Workdays: Consider the broadband connection challenges with network congestion we’ve already discussed. What do you think can happen when all your employees come into the office? You guessed it – you can become your own source of network congestion (or at least a considerable part of it). The “highway all to yourself” benefits of DIA ensure maximum productivity from your office no matter how many employees are onsite.
  • Onsite Security: No issue keeps business owners and managers awake at night more than cybersecurity. Cyberthreats skyrocketed during the pandemic when companies scrambled to enable work-from-home business models. Because of this reality, the security benefits of DIA become particularly poignant when considering hybrid work environments. As we emerge from the pandemic, sensitive data and infrastructure are more likely to be housed (or accessible) onsite. Secure connections to that infrastructure should be central to any cybersecurity or cyber resilience strategy.

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Is Dedicated Internet Access Service All the Same?

DIA differs from provider to provider based on myriad factors, including:

  • Technology: DIA circuits use one of several technologies, including Ethernet over Fiber, Ethernet over Copper (EoC), T1 (DS1), T3 (DS3), or fixed wireless. With technologies that use the copper network like EoC, T1, or T3 network availability decreases as the distance increases. Fiber, which is not impacted by distance is the best option if it’s available at your location since it offers consistent speeds. Ethernet over Fiber also scales easily from 10Mbps all the way up to 100Gbps.
  • Circuit Type: The type of circuit – Type I or II – also makes a difference with installation, latency, service levels, and support.
    1. Type I circuits are connections for which the last mile network provider and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) are the same. With one network and less network hops you can expect shorter installation times, less latency during data transfer, and faster repair times.
      DIA Type 1 Circuits
    2. Type II circuits are connections for which the last-mile provider and the ISP are different. Multiple providers introduce points of failure along the way as internet traffic travels from network to network. Type II circuits have higher latency due to the cross-connections and greater distance packets need to travel. Multiple providers also result in lower support levels since they often pass off responsibility and blame when service disruptions occur.
      DIA Type 2 Circuits
  • Reliability: Depending on the technology and circuit type used for DIA, the level of reliability can vary widely. Be sure to check the provider’s service level agreement (SLA) for guaranteed performance levels and uptime. Keep in mind that if your provider offers 99.9 percent uptime, you should expect more than 8 hours of downtime during the year. Can you afford to be down for an entire day? If not, look for five 9s (99.999 percent), which is only 5 minutes for the year.
  • Low Latency: DIA technology and circuit type can also impact latency, or the delay before data transfer begins. High latency results in poor performance for critical applications like real-time video, financial transactions, or data replications. Type I circuits that travel a single network have less latency as do those using fiber, which transmits data using light (photons) instead of electrons and does not require the signal to be repeated as frequently.
  • Scalability: DIA technology varies in scalability, which may not seem important when you’re small, but if you’re growing or your traffic fluctuates widely (think seasonal retail needs), then it’s vital. Many technologies top out quickly; DS3, for example, is only good up to 45Mbps. Then you have to buy another DS3 whether you need that much bandwidth or not. Ethernet over fiber is ideal for scalability, enabling you to easily grow your bandwidth incrementally from 10Mbps to 100Gbps.
  • Support: As mentioned, Type I circuits are delivered by one provider, so getting support without the finger-pointing possible with Type II circuits involving multiple carriers is an immediate advantage. Additionally, you’ll want to look for a provider that has an engineering team that will work with you from end-to-end – from determining your bandwidth requirements to managing the implementation process and resolving service issues around the clock.

Dedicated Internet Access Pricing

DIA sometimes is more expensive than broadband if you’re looking solely at connection costs. However, when you factor in security, the impact of reliable speeds on productivity, and higher support levels and uptime, SLA-backed DIA delivers reliable return on investment (ROI) and peace of mind.

Moreover, DIA can be right-sized for your company via a customer-specific quoting process that gets you the best possible balance of speed and security for your business.

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