Shared vs Dedicated Internet Access

Shared vs Dedicated Internet Access

  • Why Businesses Use ‘Shared Internet’

    ‘Shared Internet’, no matter the underlying technology (Internet delivered over Coax/Copper, Fiber, TV Cable, Fixed Wireless or LTE) is generally the most affordable option for business. Given a choice, most Network Engineers would never recommend ‘shared’ Internet for their clients because it leaves too much to chance, but when budgets are tight, the cost savings are undeniable. Those savings can sometimes get wiped out if work flow is interrupted too frequently by network misfires or outages, and make no mistake, those risks are higher with ‘shared Internet’ than they are with ‘Dedicated Internet Access’ (DIA). Let’s concede though that ‘Shared’ Internet is so competitively priced it has undeniable appeal for businesses who need to keep operational costs to a minimum.

  • What is Shared Internet?

    ‘Shared Internet’ arrives at your business from a hub that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) uses for all their subscribers in that area - hence the term ‘shared’. Apart from the fact that you’re sharing that hub with thousands of other businesses and quite possibly co-mingled with residential customers, your quality of service can also decrease the further away you are from the point-of-presence (POP), aka the hub.

  • How To Know If It’s ‘Shared Internet’.

    The easiest way to know if an ISPs service is ‘Shared’ is if they use the words “up to” next to advertised bandwidth rates. Whatever bandwidth is quoted, even the impressive higher rates, those numbers are just a suggested estimate if they’re asterisked with the words “up to.” The ISP cannot guarantee what actual bandwidth is delivered to your business since rates fluctuate depending on how many of the total number of subscribers assigned to that hub are using the network at the same time you are.

    In the same way airlines overbook planes because not all passengers show up, ISPs oversubscribe their local hubs. At ‘peak times’ when the subscriber load on the network is more than the backbone can take, latency and packet loss can occur. This is not good for your mission critical Internet applications or quality of service on your business phones.

  • Unforeseen Cons to ‘Shared Internet’?

    The words “up to” are also a crucial tip-off to something else. They confirm that your ISP is selling you ‘Shared Internet’ without a Service Level Agreement (SLA). An SLA is a promise by your ISP to deliver service with fixed bandwidth and minimum performance levels and for reasons just explained, ‘Shared Internet’ allows no way to guarantee either. Having no SLA means your business has no recourse if service is down. No SLA also means no guarantee on repair time when service goes out. One of the reasons your risk of such outages is higher with shared Internet is because the wiring to your location and in and around the hubs that connect your business and everyone else’s business and/or TV cables, is vulnerable to weather and even damage by man or beast. All factors can trigger outages that may take a while to fix. DIA providers are no less vulnerable to weather etc. but ‘Shared Internet” providers keep costs low by mass marketing a product they under-support with a far lower ratio of network engineers assigned to subscribers than DIA providers. This becomes quickly apparent when things go wrong.

  • Why Businesses Use Dedicated Internet Access (DIA)?

    The simple answer is to offset risk. Some industries such as defense, airline, media, finance, banking, government and so on simply cannot take the chance of losing service whether it be for regulatory or commercial reasons. Not having phones or Internet access at any time is not an option for such businesses, understandably.

  • DIA Comes With An SLA

    All DIA service is supported by an SLA, usually one that guarantees your Internet service will stay up at least 99% of the time or leave the ISP in breach of contract. The SLA also guarantees quality of service across the network managed by teams of engineers, so network lags that make video conference screens freeze and voice calls drop or warble are far less likely to occur.

    DIA comes with a bandwidth guarantee. There is no “up to” promise on DIA bandwidth. The 1GB or whatever you pay for must be the 1GB you get. DIA also comes with a managed care protection with engineers monitoring your network 24/7 to prevent problems or fix possible issues before they become problems - usually without you or anyone at your business needing to be notified. In the event that an issue does arise, DIA usually comes with fast and effective customer care access, meaning they answer your call immediately and create a ticket to track the solution fast. Good luck reaching a network engineer with a ‘Shared Internet’ plan. At best you’ll get a call center agent who reads from the ‘sorry the network is out’ script. DIA costs more because providers are duty bound to uphold high quality of service and customer care.

  • What is Dedicated Internet Access (DIA)?

    The simplest definition is that Dedicated Internet Access is a fixed, guaranteed bandwidth rate delivered for use by your business and only your business. It can be delivered using one or more underlying high speed Internet technologies including T1, T3, Ethernet-Over-Copper, Fiber, Fixed Wireless and Dark Fiber if you want to get even more exclusive and own the only line to the entire building. DIA comes with a written promise by way of SLA to never (or almost never) fail. If a local outage does occur and service is actually down, DIA guarantees repair time. DIA always costs more than ‘Shared Internet’ but the reliable, consistent bandwidth speeds, prioritized customer care, and peace of mind of guaranteed uptime is sometimes worth the investment.

  • Is There Anything In-Between ‘Shared’ & DIA?

    Yes. If ‘Shared Internet’ is too unstable and DIA too costly, there are two alternative options. We prefer the first - which is to mesh a low cost ‘Shared Internet’ with a lower bandwidth rate DIA and move them both into a SD-WAN managed care environment. Ideally this should be done only through the DIA provider so they can take responsibility for optimizing and protecting quality of service. This option has become far more manageable since the arrival of SD-WAN which is a software overlay that watches over, caretakes, monitors, tests and diagnoses every single component of a communications network, all the time, even on autopilot.

    You may wonder how a DIA provider can access lower cost ‘Shared Internet’ circuits if they don’t own them. The business of Business Internet has been revolutionised over the last decade. There’s a lot more cross pollination of technologies and interaction between providers. Prices are down across the board, while Bandwidth rates are way up, to the point where a 10GB Fiber line is available for less than the price of an old T3. But one thing remains the same - all Business Internet technologies are not equal nor are all Internet Service Providers.

    We’ve established that DIA providers carry higher quality of service obligations to customers due to SLAs. A DIA provider who can deliver a smaller, more affordable fixed-bandwidth package (in the 20-50Mbps range) for your business is just as likely to have wholesale access to all the same ‘Shared Internet’ technologies you see advertised for your location. By meshing the lower cost ‘shared’ circuit with a fixed-bandwidth line using an SD-WAN solution - the DIA provider can deliver the best of both worlds. And, your business gets the guarantee of optimal quality of service. This means your phone and Internet network will NEVER go down. With SD-WAN managed care prioritizing applications, packet loss, latency, degradation, slow downs and outages will be avoided ALL of the time. It won’t be as bottom dollar as a direct plan with a major ‘Shared Internet’ provider, but you will have service guarantees for your business that those lower cost providers could never supply.

To schedule a free consultation with our CTO, Mike DuBrin contact: or call us with questions at (800) 504-0000.

Robot image courtesy of Lorie Shaull, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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