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Dedicated vs Shared Internet Access

7th April 2017

There is a swathe of technologies available to today’s businesses to connect to the Internet. Before you sign on the dotted line it is important to remember that not all bandwidth is created equally…

One of the fundamental choices you will make is whether to go for shared or dedicated Internet access. These terms refer to the nature of the connection itself, rather than how it is delivered. Here’s some of the differences between shared and dedicated and why you might want one rather than the other:

Shared Internet Access

The theory behind shared Internet access is that users of the service share facilities in order to save money. Typically, residential broadband follows this model, numerous consumers access an Internet connection and share the price of that connection between them.

This model is appropriate for the vast majority of residential broadband because the users rarely engage in ‘critical’ online activities. They may see the drawbacks in slightly jittery VOIP calls, buffering while streaming video content or some latency in accessing their favourite websites but the general feeling is that this is worth putting up with for low cost Internet access.

Although the price is very attractive this type of connection could turn out to be a false economy for business customers. Consider whether your business operations could stand a service that has large variations in performance from minute to minute, or with network issues when there are too many simultaneous users. Technical support for such services often leave a lot to be desired. ISP’s will often offer SLA’s on a ‘best efforts’ basis meaning they will try their hardest to provide a smooth service, but won’t offer guarantees on performance, nor on response time in the event of an outage.

Headline figures dressed up in jargon aren’t always what they seem. Shared infrastructure providers often use high bandwidth speeds to attract new customers – but these advertised speeds are often the absolute maximum that is achievable. Phrases such as ‘up to 100Mbps’ are a typical sign of this. The nature of shared internet access dictates that the available bandwidth is shared between all simultaneous users. This means that if others are uploading/downloading large files, streaming video or web conferencing at the same time as you, the speed you will experience will be slower.

Dedicated Internet Access

Dedicated Internet access agreements establish a private connection between an ISP and the customer’s premises. This means that the bandwidth that you purchase is solely for your use, there are no other users sharing the connection so the speeds that are advertised are the speeds you get.

Dedicated Internet access services also tend to be symmetrical meaning users will receive the same upload speed and download speed. This is a key feature for businesses who transfer files in both directions, use remote office connections, cloud services, video conferencing or VOIP. Dedicated services enable you to perform continuous transfers for remote backups, stream audio and video more smoothly and deliver reliable cloud connectivity, essential for modern businesses.

You will pay more for a dedicated service as you will pay for your own private connection. Although some small businesses cannot commit to this level of spend for many it is a no-brainer. Ensuring reliable and consistent bandwidth speeds, guaranteed up-time, increased productivity and superior technical support makes dedicated internet access a worthwhile investment.

Afterword

It’s always sensible to consult with an expert in the field before making such investment decisions. ISP’s who put their customers at the heart of what they do will always be able to make a recommendation for what best suits your business. The most important thing is to understand that the technology that underpins your Internet connection might not be what you perceive is being advertised. Headline speeds and marketing phrases are not always what they seem.

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