Are there any problems changing an office network from T-1 broadband to 12.2 Mb Comcast Business?

Hi Experts:

I have a small network of XP Pro clients (<25) running through our own SBS 2003, with Exchange, providing FTP and a website using our own resgistered domain name (we host ourselves)- also a SOHO firewall. Because this was originally set up as purely entry level, the T-1 is split to carry the phones as well. End result is we get right about 768Kb both ways at best for the net. It is not inexpensive!

The company has decided to give Comcast Business a chance to make us an offer. It would be substantial savings and offer us the broadband at 12.2 Mb / 2Mb and 10 phone lines with our existing digital equipment. We have another Corporate Branded domain name that is hosted by another ISP that provides us with unlimited mailboxes - Comcast offers only 6, so I've discarded that idea. My question is 2 parts:

1)  Are there any technical issues for any of my equipment if I suddenly go from 768K to 12.2 Mb in speed? Using 100Mb Nics, can I be sure that we can actually use what is being provided?

2)  If I keep the other ISP that is hosting the corporate domain name, and completely dump the one I myself am hosting on the SBS, using the equipment for only an internal production network, how might that impact my operation? If the company had access to the internet anyway, through the other ISP, why are we spending money for more than a modest modem?

I feel like I might be missing something very basic here, but I just have to run it by you folks.

Thanks for your time.
---GRIFF
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griff4345Asked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Comcast should offer you business class service at a relatively inexpensive (clearly cheaper than T1) price and an option for static IPs... so why dump the SBS hosted domain?  (Why really use any ISP hosted domain?)

You have to consider your internet connection like a pipe.  Think of it like a 12 inch diameter pipe that gets water from whereever you tell it to - if you tell it to come from my network and I have a 6 inch pipe, then all you get is 6.  Further, that pipe is SHARED with others.  If 3 people are trying to download from three different sites, you could end up with 4.  EVERYTHING is shared at some point, but with cable the "shared" portion is typically closer to your physical location.  Ultimately, your exact performance can vary based on MANY factors.  BUT, it should be much, much faster than a T1.  

Otherwise, other than some changes to network settings because your IPs change, all you should need is a router.  The cable company should provide everything else.  It'll likely be a simpler setup.
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aleghartCommented:
> 1)  Are there any technical issues for any of my equipment if I suddenly go from 768K to 12.2 Mb in speed?

>Using 100Mb Nics, can I be sure that we can actually use what is being provided?

--Realistically, you'll never have a LAN that can't keep up with your WAN.  You are far more likely to run into bottlenecks of not enough speed from your ISP or not enough bandwidth at the source end...like a server on a T1 can't serve you files above 5MB/minute, regardless of how fast your downstream connection is.

>2)  If I keep the other ISP that is hosting the corporate domain name, and completely dump the one I myself am hosting on the SBS, using the equipment for only an internal production network, how might that impact my operation?

--You're paying for services you can host yourself.  You've got more DNS to worry about, and more IP addresses to track for the external server.  It's still a good practice, so your site won't go down if your office goes down (or trips a power breaker).  But, instead of hosting with an ISP package, pay $10-25-50 for a hosting package elsewhwere.  The ISP-provided packages are overpriced and have "features" that would make any hosting company laugh.  Things like 25MB mailbox sizes....umm that's gigabytes on my SBS server.  Paying $5/mo to increase to 50MB of storage space?


>f the company had access to the internet anyway, through the other ISP, why are we spending money for more than a modest modem?

--Not sure I understand this question.  I thought the idea was to replace T1 with cable and drop the losing ISP.  With the winning ISP (cable) I wouldn't pay for any equipment.  You need an interface with an Ethernet handoff to your network.  They can call it a modem or a router or a "device"...as long as there's no monthly charge or setup/install fee.  Even $5/mo is a ripoff.  It's 20 bucks of plastic, for which they'll collect 60/yr for 5 years = $300...profit above and beyond what they're making from the connectivity charges.  That's where there's real money made...those recurring fees every month.  No need to pay into it.  Get your own router, firewall, wireless access point...all in one with something like a SonicWall if you wish.  You can even use it to transition, leaving both internet connections live at the same time and even doing some load balancing.  Far better to spend your money on your own equipment with good support.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
> --Realistically, you'll never have a LAN that can't keep up with your WAN.
Not in New York.  ON Long Island, I can get Optimum Online from my CAble provider with a 101 Mbit throughput.
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aleghartCommented:
^ Realistically.  What are the chances that you're savvy enough (and lucky enough) to get a 100+Mbit WAN connection, but not have a computer that's newer than 5-years old, which has a gigabit NIC.

Again, realistically, who else can keep up with that speed?  Most web servers won't serve up faster than 1-2MB/sec.  VPN to the office will have issues of it's own.  Peer-to-peer direct file transfers over a WAN...at some point along that line of reasoning, you're upgrading to nominally current equipment.

We've got a gigabit LAN infrastructure here, with less than 1/2 of devices able to connect with a gigabit NIC.  Just not a need for it, even after many years of having GigE.  We use it for the servers and for transferring large files (photoshop, illustrator, video)....but with new equipment that already has gigabit NICs.

I fielded some questions about upgrade costs for all users to have GigE cards installed.  I did one or two and showed that there was no difference.

As for WAN...with 30 people and total of ~10Mbps downstream...I still don't see WAN saturation at my office.  Even downloading an ISO or bittorrent that's competing with everyone else, I notice reduced bandwidth, but nothing (from a business standpoint) that is unreasonable.  With 100Mbps...I don't think any one person could find someone else to connect with.

At home on a 25Mbps circuit...I've only tested it to be that fast.  I don't have anyone else to test against because noone wants to open a fat pipe to their services.

So, while you are technically correct, I didn't see anything in the OP that indicated there were fat point-to-point connections transferring media or streaming 100 web cams. That'll come later, when everyone gets spoiled with the bandwidth.  :)

Not having a 100Mbps connection, I can't honestly say that there's noone serving files at that speed.  I support someone overseas who has a 1-gig metro connection.  Never found anyone (besides peer-to-peer) that would do anything with a single user.  The fat pipes are best for multiple users, each with smaller bandwidth requirements.
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griff4345Author Commented:
Okay guys.......... thanks for the input and I'll wait a bit for anyone else to chime in.

I believe you both have valid and somewhat similar points to consider. Most of my personal decision is made, I think. This is one of those things where the boss decides he wants to investigate the options and tosses the project over to me. After much investigation and a report back, usually based on the best available information, he does what he wants anyway - and usually with very little planning and a lot left over for me to clean up..............but I'm whining.........sorry.

More than anything, I want to be fairly certain I will have to maybe pop for a new router and that's all. After working at 768 for so long, you can be sure any increase will be gratefully welcome. It has been a very painful 10 years or so on the net at work.

Thanks again for the input......... argue amongst yourselves (grin) and let's wait for just a little bit.

---GRIFF
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
In all likelihood, your existing router (assuming it's yours and not provided by the T1 provider) should work with a static from the cable company.
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griff4345Author Commented:
Just thought about something else........

With what we now have on the T-1, it's split into channels and 11 phones are on that system. That usually is broken out to 64Kb per channel. The 11 channels for the phones are using what they need and the rest is for internet. The net is running great (for what it is) unless all your phones are ringing off the hook or there is a massive conference call underway. Then your internet speed drops because the phones take precedence. Also, if there is a failure now, we lose "everything" until the repair.

With the Comcast arrangement, the net broadband is completely separated from the phones and is, consequently, independent in a failure. That's worth a huge consideration for me.
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aleghartCommented:
Not arguing.  I recommend getting the 100Mb connection if it ever comes available to you.  You can never have enough bandwidth.  :)  At that point, if you don't have new equipment, I would upgrade some of the stuff that might use it.  Not the entire LAN.  Let that happen by attrition or by need.

We have an old SonicWall that is still fine for 2xT1 + 10Mbps ADSL.  Everyone says we need a new one...can't handle the speed, etc.  It's nice to have new, and sometimes necessary.  But not always.

Leew, I see your point earlier.  It _is_ conceivable that anyone could upgrade their WAN to something outrageously fast and still have older equipment or not know how to best use it.  Becoming more and more common with cable, FIOS, metro ethernet, fiber to highrise, etc.  Just takes a phone call, and I upgraded to 25Mbps with no questions from the sales person on the phone other than "What operating system do you have, Windows or Mac?"

Just got an offer of 100Mbps for under a grand a month, Gigabit Ethernet hand-off in the telco closet in case we want to go faster.   I stand (sit) corrected.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Lets be clear - are you switching JUST internet away or are you switching BOTH internet and phones to comcast?  And what kind of phone system do you have now?   Is it a VoIP system or PBX?
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griff4345Author Commented:
@Leew

I was just checking your profile. My first was an old Tandy HX I still have, and a 20MB drive was HUGE!!!!! But, I think the thing I'm always most grateful for is being able to school myself on DOS - it has been a true blessing in many, many ways. Just mumblin'!
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aleghartCommented:
>With the Comcast arrangement, the net broadband is completely separated from the phones and is, consequently, independent in a failure.

A cable cut/disonnect would still take both out.  But bad DNS or your LAN router going up in smoke should not kill the phones.

I still keep a hard line powered by the telco.  Relies on nothing of mine but a halfway-decent pair of copper.

I've had a few occassions where an ADSL or SDSL line was disconnected by an installer at the street or in the facility telco closet. (That's why it's handy to keep the binding post info from the original install.)

Another I know of has constant signal strength problems because independent contractors keep moving cable connections at the central box to get their customers better signal or to install a new splitter.

Keep in mind that some alarm monitoring companies don't like (or even approve) using VoIP or cableco phone lines.  If it's a commercial contract, most systems should have an IP interface available.  (UL installs need two comm modes anyway, so go with IP+hard line instead of hard line + radio.)
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griff4345Author Commented:
@leew

Considering the switch for both and VoIP.
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griff4345Author Commented:
@aleqhart

Yeah, we've already run into the alarm system thing, but I think it's all squared away!
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griff4345Author Commented:
Hey Kids!

I think this has gone about as far as it can go.

Both have valid points, I can present my position to the boss and let him make his decision.

As with anything, there are a few concerns, but really minor, all things considered.

In the end, we'll still get more for less than where we are now.

Thanks for all the input - I'm increasing the points so I can do a decent split, because I think this chat was helpful to me, but will also be helpful to others.

Have a Happy!
---GRIFF
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griff4345Author Commented:
Even with the best advice, some things are still quite subjective - this is one of them. We'll have to do what is best for our situation, but all info is great for guidance. Thanks to all.
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