Dedicated Versus Commodity Internet Service

Not all Internet Service Providers are equal in terms of what they provide to their consumers. Moreover, even within a single ISP the differences between "residential", "business" and "enterprise" plans can be confusing at best. When selecting your broadband provider, here are some factors to consider:

  • Speed - Often measured in Mbps or Gbps, the speed of your connection is important to consider.
  • Data Caps - Unfortunately, some providers still implement data caps, which "run the meter" as you use your Internet connection to send and recieve data. These caps are normally measured in GB or TB.
  • Download vs Upload - Many providers offer "asymmetric" service, meaning that the Download and Upload speeds for the connection are not matched (usually favoring Download).
  • IPv4 & IPv6 Static Addresses - More common for businesses wishing to establish a hosting presense on the Internet or utilize a site to site VPN solution, not all providers will supply a static IP address. Moreover, many providers will not provide IPv6 connectivity, being the next generation addressing and communications protocol for the Internet.
  • Shared or Dedicated Access - Your ISP may use either a Dedicated (e.g. Active Ethernet) or Shared (e.g. DSL, Cable Modem, GPON Fiber, Wireless) access network technology. In the case of a shared access network you may not be able to achieve the advertised speeds for your service plan, as the capacity of the carrier's network is saturated by use, due to other consumers.
  • Service Level - Will you be recieving priority support if your connection goes offline or will you be waiting in a call queue for the next available support agent to ask you to reset your modem?
  • Managed Service - Will your provider install a managed router or firewall at your location? Will they proactively monitor it for faults and respond proactively for detected problems?

What speeds do I need?

Selecting the right speed for your connection is critical to good performance. Here are some examples of high bandwidth services which will require a high speed broadband connection:

  • Streaming video
  • Large file transfers
  • Hosting a website or service with large traffic volume
  • Site to Site VPN solutions

What is Peering and Latency?

Not all carriers are equal in how they connect to the core of the Internet. Some providers maintain multiple connections (or Peering) though separate providers, allowing them both redundancy and the ability to optimize latency. If you are using applications which require "Real Time" communications, then you will need the lowest latency possible. Real Time applications can include:

  • VoIP and Video Conferencing Solutions (including GoToMeeting, WebEx and similar solutions)
  • Remote Desktop and Virtual Desktop Solutions
  • Non-WAN Optimized File Protocols (CIFS or SMB)
  • Online video games
  • Instant Messaging applications (Skype, Slack, Hipchat, Microsoft Teams)

If you want to investigate your carrier's peering options, ask them for their Autonomous System Number (AS number) so that you can research their connectivity using various online route registries.