Internet Access for Small Businesses and Home Workers

By: Angela Abbette

Deciding on internet access for your small business or working from home, comes down to your budget and needs. We will discuss the options available to you.

Broadband DSL

Broadband service sound more complicated than they are. DSL (digital subscriber line) users subscribe to a specialized telephone line. The connection offers fast access that is always on. There is no dialing, waiting for modems to shake hands, etc.- just pure bandwidth. Typical DSL services range from approximately $40 a month to more than $175 a month; the more money, the faster the service and the more features. Prices can come in higher, because users must pay for the line as well as the Internet services.

DSL service providers typically offer their services in tiers and with different downstream speeds (the time it takes for users to download Web pages, files, email, etc.) and upstream speeds (the time it takes to send email and other messages, share files, etc.). So an entry-level service tier may cost $45 a month and offer 768 kilobits per second (Kbps) of downstream connectivity and 128 Kbps of upstream connectivity; while a business service may cost $150 a month and offer up to 6 megabits per second (Mbps) of downstream connectivity and 384 Kbps of upstream connectivity.

However, DSL services are not without problems. In fact, they often come with distasteful stories, especially when it comes to installation. To begin with, DSL services are limited by how far a user is from a telephone company's nearest telephone service hub (where all the telephone network switches and other gear reside). If a user is too far away, typically more than 18,000 feet, one simply cannot get the service.

If a user is within the service area, the line to his or her house must still be "qualified" by the provider. In some cases, although a user may be close enough to the central office, the copper circuit may suffer from too much interference or other issues to qualify for service. Because of these types of problems, getting DSL can sometimes be problematic, frustrating, and time consuming. If a user is considering DSL service, the key is to ask far in advance.

Broadband Cable Modem

Cable modem service is a somewhat more straightforward but sometimes offers a more limiting service in comparison with DSL's multiple tiers. Typically, cable access is broken into residential and business service, with speed and price differences between the two. A residential service might provide 500 Kbps downstream and 128-256 Kbps upstream for $40. A business connection may deliver 1.5 Mbps or more downstream and faster upstream speeds, as well, but for more money.

It's important to note that cable providers don't serve as many location types as telephone companies. Although suburbs and other residential areas are likely to have cable TV service, small office suites and business parks might not have any cable service at all (because most businesses don't have televisions). Rural areas are not often served by cable providers. That said, cable access has outpaced DSL installations to date, but recent indication reveal that the tide may be turning.

What About Wireless?

In addition to wired broadband, such as DSL and cable modem services, there is an increasing number of wireless services available to small and home office users. These include Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) and fixed wireless services. For many users in areas that are too far from central offices to get DSL or that cable providers don't serve, wireless services have heavy penetration, especially fixed wireless. Also, new wireless services are finding their way into metropolitan areas. These services cater to mobile professionals who need anywhere access.

Typical fixed wireless services resemble cable modem and DSL services. The provider attaches a terminal unit to the user's home that sends and receives the user's data, but rather than being connected to a coaxial cable or phone line, it has an antenna. Initial user reaction may be that wireless equals slow, but many fixed wireless services can offer speeds up to 3 Mbps.

But the key to all of these services' effectiveness is how well they apply to a user's specific needs. Remote workers, small businesses, etc. all have different requirements for their Internet services.

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Angela Abbette writes for and is a user of the article information found at

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