The Internet is bringing us more and more opportunities. It seems that every entertainment and communication option that is open to Microsoft and GE is now available to the smallest of companies. By utilizing cloud technology and shared resources, a one-person enterprise can affordably utilize voice-over-IP phone service, Exchange Server, Enterprise-level customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) databases, Internet conferencing, streamable video and audio on demand, etc.
So what’s the catch? Internet bandwidth has become the limiting factor for many small companies. Many of our clients are afraid to take the next step to the cloud for fear that they won’t be able to afford the necessary bandwidth to support the access. If a small company is already using VoIP phone service and a hosted Exchange solution over a single T1 line, signing up for a new cloud-based ERP database service is really pushing the envelope. Throw in a couple of users who need to view live video streams from the Statehouse or who host multi-attendee video conferences and you have found your Achilles’ heel.
The push to the cloud for backups, digital file services, etc. has led to a critical dependence on Internet reliability. Redundant Internet connections are no longer considered luxury items. They are quickly becoming the norm. The most common setup for small companies is a T1 connection coupled with a business-class cable Internet connection. If configured properly, this combination can offer both stability and speedy downloads.
Although you’ll hear otherwise from cable providers, their service is not stable enough to handle your VoIP traffic, if you have more than a handful of users. T1 is rock-solid for this purpose. Depending on the amount of bandwidth required, you might also want to use your T1 for other services where reliability is key. Web conferences are generally pretty critical and you don’t want to risk latency because all the kiddies got off the bus and piled onto the Internet at 3:30. This can, and does, happen over cable because most of that line is shared. The advantage of cable, however, is that it can offer up to 100 Mbps of download. Compare this to the 1.5 Mbps maximum of T1. What you get for T1 is guaranteed bandwidth for uploads and downloads, 99.8% or greater guaranteed uptime, and fewer headaches.
Some of our clients dedicate their T1 to key services and use cable for Internet browsing only. Others use load-balancing technology to decide which service is needed. Another option is to use one of your connections as an automatic failover in the event that one goes down.
Now that I’ve rambled on about T1 and cable for several paragraphs, I should mention that these are just two of many options (depending on your location and budget). T3 can offer up to 43 Mbps, DSL can sometimes offer up to 20 Mbps, ISDN is still available in some areas but is generally used for voice services these days, satellite options exist but aren’t generally considered very reliable, and for those with deeper pockets and a need for speed, fiber can offer up to 1 Gbps and even higher if you can afford the infrastructure.
If you have questions about your Internet connection, please call Promethius at 317-733-2388.