High Speed Connection Types

There are five main types of high speed Internet access: xDSL, Cable, T1 & T3, SMDS and ISDN, each with different speed potential and each with very different costs for installation and use. All free your phone line for the voice transmission you don't have when using the standard 56K modem. Clearly, for most homes, small businesses, and even medium to larger businesses, T1, T3, and SMDS connections are beyond the budget.

ISDN connections run at speeds at either 64K (slightly faster than 56K modems) or 128K, about 2.25 times faster than a 56K modem using both channels on the line simultaneously.

Cable connections run at speeds of about 1.5M, about 26 times faster than a 56K modem. Upload speeds differ from the download speeds. Upload speeds of cable connections run at about 90K.

xDSL or ADSL connections run at a speeds ranging from 640K, about 11 times faster than a 56K modem to 7.1M, about 125 times faster than a 56K modem. Upload speeds differ from the download speeds. Upload speeds for the 640K and 1.7M line run about 90K while for the 7.1M line at about 680K.

T1 connections run at a speed of about 1.6M, about 27 times faster than a 56K modem.

T3 connections run at a speed of about 45M, about 786 times faster than a 56K modem.

SMDS connections run on dedicated lines at speeds of 56K, 1.17M, 4M, 10M, 16M, 25M, and 34M.

High Speed Connections for Small Business

Small businesses today can obtain high speed Internet access within a reasonable budget with Cable or xDSL connections. The highest speed xDSL line offered today even significantly exceeds download T1 speed 7.1M versus 1.6M. while upload speeds are within about 43%, fine for most any service except for Web Hosting, including Virtual Private Networking (VPN).

In fact, for most small businesses, who for the most part obtain information from the Internet and send email, some information and file uploads through the Internet, the low speed xDSL connection of 640K is more than adequate.

In choosing between Cable and xDSL beyond the obvious considerations the method used to physically connect users to the Internet is important as it affects the speed of your connection. Cable connections are through a loop where a significant number of users share a cable and its bandwidth (the amount of activity which can pass through the cable at any particular moment). As the number of users on the loop increases or the activity from the users on the loop increases the speed of the connection drops. The number of users the cable operator allows on each loop will determine just how far the speed can drop. One cable company in the Northeast was apparently greedy enough that they put so many users on there loops that at times users reported speed dropped below that of a 56K modem. This is not typical, but cable users complaining about periodic speed degradation is not unusual. It is important to state here that most Cable Internet providers are cognizant of this problem, and limit the number of users on each loop to prevent speed degredation.

On the other hand, xDSL users have their cable go directly to the xDSL provider. This line is not shared by any other user. At the provider the xDSL lines are interconnected, but on a loop with significantly more bandwidth that the cable loop discussed in the paragraph above. In general xDSL users report little if any period speed drops in there service.

For sporadic file uploading and email the slower upload speeds, as compared to the download speeds are more than adequate. The fact that the download (in to the user) and upload (out from the user) speeds are different generally only comes into play if the user is considering hosting their own web site or using virtual private networking. In both these cases data is to be retrieved out from the user and the upload speed limitation comes into play. Generally if you want to host a web site you need at least a T1 line to get the 1.6M output as well as input. If you're interested in having a connection from a salesman or alike through the Internet into your office through Virtual Private Networking (a secure way of connecting to the office computer or computer network) then the amount of traffic that will generate will determine whether the high speed xDSL line is adequate or whether a T1 line or higher speed line is needed. At 680K though, you'd be surprised just how fast that is. It's generally more than adequate for most small business VPNs.

Another important consideration in choosing which type of high speed connection is whether you will have a static or dynamic address. A static address is one which is permanently assigned to your computer with the high speed connection on the Internet. If you have a dynamic address it is assigned and reassigned periodically by your ISP's DHCP computer server. If you are interested in using Virtual Private Networking (VPN) to allow connection through the Internet to your computer or LAN you would be better off with a static address as it facilitates making setting up your VPN easier. For general Internet access a dynamic address will suffice, but if you can, and if it's in your budget opt for a static address as it will give you greater flexibility at this time.


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