Shared vs. Dedicated Internet
When talking about business internet options, not all services are created equal. You may have heard the term shared and dedicated Internet services and wondered what they meant? The difference between the two could very well drive your decision on what to purchase and which provider to purchase from. The most simple way to identify a shared or dedicated internet option is by price and speed. You’ll find that a shared internet connection will be asymmetrical (download speed is much faster than upload speed) and the price will be below $250/month.
So what’s the difference you ask:
In contrast, Dedicated Internet will be symmetrical (download and upload speed will be the same) and the monthly price will typically be more than $500 a month. Most often you’ll find that shared internet will come from your local cable and telephone company, AT&T U-verse and Comcast both provide shared internet services for less than $100 per month. There is more competition with Dedicated Internet providers, companies like Level 3 and Cogent along with many others will provide dedicated service, typically over a Fiber Optic cable with prices ranging from $500 per month to more than several thousand for very high-speed service, i.e. GB Internet.
Shared internet is what you might find at your home. A shared internet service is very affordable and typically offers high download speeds. The downside of shared internet is that you’re sharing a chunk of Internet with your neighbors and the quality of your service and speed will depend on the behavior of the dozens of other companies in your area. Think of Shared internet in terms of a highway, during the day when traffic is light you can generally drive as fast as you’d like, but during rush hour when the highways congested your speed suffers dramatically.
Shared internet in the office works the same way, as more offices use the internet causing congestion, the performance of your internet connection suffers. The other challenge with sharing the internet with your neighbors is the the provider typically can't guarantee the quality of service. If your business relies on the internet for business critical applications, this can be problematic. Lastly, Shared internet generally isn’t recommended if your business uses “real-time” applications like Voice over IP or Video Conference. These applications are very susceptible to any degradation of internet quality.
Dedicated internet which carries a higher cost, means that the internet connection is dedicated to you and not shared with neighboring businesses. This means that you'll get 100% of the advertised speed and a service-level agreement that protects you if the internet goes down or suffers any degradation. This is important if you use real-time services like voice over IP streaming video or video conferencing as all of these services rely on high-quality internet connections. You're also not susceptible to your neighbor's usage, meaning if the Highway gets clogged you get your own dedicated fast lane.
So how do you determine whether you need a shared internet connection or dedicated internet connection? The answer is your budget and the cost of downtime. If you're like most businesses that rely heavily on the internet to run the day-to-day operations of your business, then the cost of downtime is significant. The question that we urge our customers to ask is - what does it cost my business if the internet goes down for an hour or even a day. The other consideration is how you're using the internet. If you’re only using it for basic email, web surfing etc, then shared internet will work very well, however, if you’re using the aforementioned “real-time” applications then you should consider dedicated internet.