What is Dedicated Internet Access?

What is the difference between an inexpensive "shared" Internet connection and a Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) circuit for your company?

Question: Remote users, IPsec VPN’s to other sites, Remote Desktop, VoIP, Cloud Apps… What do they all have in common?

“Reasons why I keep Tums in my drawer?” … No.

Answer: These are data center applications which might require your company to need a Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) circuit, instead of the average, cost-effective business Internet access types, like Fios, U-verse, business-class cable, and DSL.

Types of Dedicated Internet Access circuits include: Dedicated Fiber (a.k.a. fast ethernet, metro ethernet, ethernet over fiber); Ethernet over Copper (EoC); T-1 (DS-1); T-3 (DS-3); and Dedicated Fixed-Wireless.

The type of DIA circuit your company needs, depends on the circuit types available at your address and the bandwidth your company requires. In theory, the type of DIA circuit (i.e. fiber vs. T-1), only affects the bandwidth and price of the Internet connection.

Regardless of circuit type, a DIA circuit always includes the following 5 benefits:

Guaranteed bandwidth

With Dedicated Internet Access, your company is guaranteed to receive the bandwidth you purchased, 100% of the time. If your company purchases a 100M dedicated fiber Internet connection, you will always receive 100M.

This is helpful because a company can decide on the speed they require, purchase it and rely on it to be the same speed, every minute of the day.

This is different than “shared” connections, where the speed your company purchases is the maximum speed you will receive. (like at 2:00 AM). With shared connections, the actual speed is unpredictable and fluctuates throughout the day, depending on the ISP’s network traffic.

Synchronous upload and download speeds

If your company purchases a 100M Dedicated Internet Access circuit, both your download and upload speed/bandwidth are always guaranteed at 100M.

Fast upload speed is important if your company has a lot of remote users, cloud apps, VoIP, etc.

Less expensive, shared Internet connections typically have a fast download speed and a significantly slower upload speed. For instance, it’s common to see an inexpensive shared Internet connection with a maximum download speed of 100M and a maximum upload speed of only 10M.

Better throughput

Has your company ever experienced slow Internet speed yet your Internet speed test says your bandwidth is high?

If your company doesn’t have time for this kind of skulduggery, DIA might be the answer.

This is a little-known secret in the ISP world but as any ISP network engineer will tell you, the bandwidth your company buys is not the circuit’s actual throughput. It’s just the bandwidth at which the circuit accesses the ISP’s backbone network. Once your traffic hits the network, however, it only moves as fast as the network will allow.

The best analogy is a freeway onramp (i.e. your circuit), vs. the actual freeway (i.e. the ISP’s backbone network). The onramp might be huge and wide-open but if the freeway is packed with traffic, it’s going to take you a long time to reach your destination.

ISP’s don’t advertise this but they keep their Dedicated Internet Access customers on a high-capacity, under-subscribed backbone network. Shared Internet connections often run on jammed, over-subscribed backbone networks. Therefore, despite having the same circuit speed, a 100M Dedicated Internet Access connection will almost always be faster than a 100M inexpensive, shared Internet access connection.

I know… MIND BLOWN. [slow explosion sound]

Service level agreement

With real-time applications like VoIP, Video and Remote Desktop growing in popularity, things like latency, packet loss, and jitter have become extremely important on your company’s Internet connection.

Piggy-backing on the benefit of better throughput, (since DIA traffic runs over a better backbone network), ISP’s can also slap a snazzy guarantee on the quality of your Internet traffic, called a Service Level Agreement (SLA). A typical DIA SLA will guarantee:

  1. Network Uptime
  2. Latency
  3. Packet Loss
  4. Jitter (only guaranteed with some ISP’s)

If your company has Dedicated Internet Access and your ISP fails to meet its SLA, they will give you a monetary refund, based on the details outlined in your original contract.

Better guaranteed response time

Dedicated Internet Access circuits almost always come with a significantly better guaranteed response time than inexpensive, shared business Internet connections. ISP’s typically provide a 4-hour guaranteed response time for DIA trouble tickets and a 24-hour guaranteed response time for shared Internet connection trouble tickets.

If your company has a Dedicated Internet Access circuit, rest assured your issue is a much higher priority to the ISP than a customer with a $100/month shared Internet access circuit. Again, you get what you pay for, including customer service.

So, the next time you hear an ISP touting a 100M business “fiber” connection for $150/month, you’ll know why it’s so inexpensive. Don’t get me wrong, the inexpensive connections are extremely useful but they are apples and oranges from a fiber DIA connection.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10