"Business Class" internet connections

jimbecher used Ask the Experts™
  I have always heard trunk lines (T1, T3, etc) are "more stable" and "more reliable". Comcast has a  20/5 "Residential" package for say $90/month. Than they offer a "Business Class" package with the same bandwidth for say $130/month. Then you have a Verizon T3 (3.0/3.0) for say $700/month

   As a business why would I even consider a T3 at $700/month when (if I could get it) a Comcast "Residential" package at 20/5 has a lot more bandwidth?

   What is "more stable" and "more reliable" when it comes to a T3? Different switches? Better routing? Why in the world would a business choose a T3 over much cheaper alternatives and what is the difference between "Residential" class and "Business" class?
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
A residental service typically does not offer a fixed ip address. So if you want to host a web server, or access any systems there, it could be an issue. Also, residential service does not guarantee the "sold" bandwidth. You are just one of many user on a pipe, and if everybody goes at once, it will be slow.

Typical business class services offer some guarantee, faster bandwidth, and you can get fixed ip addresses. They also may offer better support in the case of a problem..

If you have Version FIOS available where you are I suggest taking a look at that. If not, I would stick with the Comcast Business service. If this is a home based business where internet access is not critical, and you can perhaps live with a few issues, then residential may be all you need.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
T1, T3 lines typically offer SLAs and some argue greater reliability.  In my experience, a T1/T3 was a good option 15 years ago...

I had one client a few years back with a T1 that seemed to go down monthly.  

Given the costs of a T1, my recommendation to people willing to consider them is to get a dual WAN router and get both Cable and FiOS or DSL if available.  This provides two connections generally faster than a T1 line, costs less, and if one goes down, they are using two completely different technologies so the odds of having a full outage are very low.
(The SLAs offered for T1 do little more than guarantee some money back... given the importance of the internet to most businesses today, $20 refunds for outages cost a LOT more than the money lost due to the outage).
Re the diff between residential and business class.  The reason service providers offer these two different classes is because their service guarantees (SLA) often differ for residential and business.

Also, the service provider will usually need to allocate more or different resources for business service than for residential service.  This is because they expect the business will have a different usage pattern than a residential service.

One important point is that if you sign up for residential service, you usually have to sign something with the service provider indicating that you are using this just for residential service.  If the service provider later discovers that you are running a business on a residential account, they can yank your account and/or you may be liable for a large bill to cover the months of underpayments.

If it is a small home business, it may never be noticed.  But if you have to call in for service and someone accidentally mentions something about the home business, then that could be a problem.  Just something to keep in mind.
C++ 11 Fundamentals

This course will introduce you to C++ 11 and teach you about syntax fundamentals.

Brian PiercePhotographer
Awarded 2007
Top Expert 2008
One other difference between a 'business class' and residential service is the contention ratio. That is to say how many users effectively share a channel at the exchange. With residential class services this is normally 50:1 which means the bandwidth of that channel is shared between 50 potential users. If few users are using their connection then you will get your advertised bandwidth, but as more of those 50 users come on-line then the total bandwidth of the channel has to be shared between more users and your effective bandwidith is reduced.

With business class services, the contention rates are much lower, 10:1 is not untypical meaning that your connection is more able to offer your advertised bandwidth much more of the time


  You guys have all touched on what I am looking for. Different SLAs, different contention ratios, more or different resources but can you see how nebulous those terms are? It would take months and months or research and pouring over SLAs with a fine tooth comb to even begin to understand if you are getting "Business Class" service. How daunting. I mean what it boils down to is that the ISPs are saying "Trust me. You are getting Business Class". Ya right :)

   My guess would be that the real difference between "Comcast Residential" and "Comcast Business" is $50. End of differences but to truely determing that would take an avalanche of research, phone calls and infinite details on the SLAs.

   I will tell you what started this ball rolling. We are in somewhat of a rural area. About the only two games in town are Mediacom and Centurylink. We have Mediacom "Business Class"  15/2 with a static IP for $140/month. I called anothe business a mike a way to see what they were using and paying. This dude said he had a 10Mbps ethernet connection from CenturyLink and it was costing him $3,000/month!

   My jaw dropped! I know there are gives and takes and that you can never really compare apples to apples but I'm paying $140/month for 15/2 and he is paying $3,000/month for 10/10. How in the world can you justify that? I am kind of like you Lee. Yes 10 or 15 years ago 56k/T1/T3 trunk line were worth it but with competition and advances in technology they seem to have lost their luster. Hence my question.

   It still seems that trunk lines do have some advantages to them but at what cost? Where do you draw the line?


I do understand what you are saying - how can you be sure you are getting anything different/better than what they offer to residential.  

Having said that, one way to decide how much to spend has much to do with your company's particular usage requirements.  What is mission critical?  If you are just shipping stuff from your garage and you don't have industrial strength servers and/or a call center running out of your home, probably it is not worth it to you.  

On the other hand, if you are in a rural environment, your choices are limited, in which case advances in technology may not be the deciding factor.
Distinguished Expert 2018
A couple of additional points: residential connections increasingly have other locks. SMTP inbound and/or outbound, for example, is often blocked. Partly as a spam prevention measure, partly to prevent residential misuse. Traffic throttling is also not uncommon. Pay for the business class, the residential is just not worth the hassle.

As far as the price difference, ISPs consistently charge significantly more for upstream bandwidth. So that high cist for 10mbits up is not a surprise. A business who needs high upstream needs will justify the cost.

Also, even where the ISP does not block SMTP traffic on the residential class service, their agreement will often say "no email servers".

This is just a suggestion, but if you haven't actually purchased and installed your server at home yet, I am wondering if you have considered renting a dedicated server that is hosted on an industrial strength network.   I had many of the same thoughts that you had when I first started my at-home service, and found that my home/residential ISP would not allow me to do many of the things I wanted to do with network traffic.  However, for roughly the same price as the cheaper business class service you mentioned, I could rent a sma//medium grade server that sits on a network with redundant pipes, redundant power sources, RAID, a remote backup server, etc.  And I am not committed to that particular server.  If my needs grow, I can move up to a larger server at any time.  Just a thought.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial