Posted on Fri, Dec 4, 2015 @ 09:30 AM by Brian Asher
When we talk about business Internet, we’re often comparing fiber optic Internet (such as Verizon FiOS), standard wireless Internet and landlines. However, business Internet can also be split up into dedicated and shared Internet access.
The difference between dedicated vs. shared Internet access isn’t how information is transmitted over the Internet, but rather how connection and access to the Internet (bandwidth) is distributed.
Shared Internet: How it Works
Shared Internet is probably what your business and home are equipped with right now; a single Internet service shared among users, which can then be accessed on various devices and internal networks. On a shared Internet connection, all bandwidth (5 Mbps, 10 Mbps, etc.) is split among all users and devices.
For example, a standard video call on the communication software Skype will take up between .3 and 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth, depending on call quality. Similarly, a single Voice-over IP (VoIP) phone call will take roughly 0.085-1 Mbps of bandwidth; of course, the more users are connected and making calls at a given time, the more your bandwidth will be stretched.
With shared Internet access, all data is transmitted over one network, consuming away more and more pieces of bandwidth as more devices are connected and types of data are transmitted. While this is manageable for small businesses, and even medium-sized businesses that do not require extensive bandwidth for things like conference calling and busy cloud-based call centers, it can become an issue as organizations grow.
Dedicated Internet: How it Works
In broad terms, dedicated Internet is exactly what it sounds like: Internet access and bandwidth dedicated to one user and one user alone. For businesses, dedicated Internet refers to bandwidth division among a network’s users - all users have a portion of bandwidth dedicated to them solely.
Whether this allotted bandwidth is fully used or under-utilized, the bandwidth belongs to that user alone. This makes dedicated Internet very valuable for large organizations with many users, cloud-based phones or web-enabled devices.
Pros and Cons
Whether shared Internet or dedicated Internet best suits your business really depends on your business size (your number of users and devices) and the kinds of data you upload/download. Downloading a HD video file takes up a significantly larger portion of bandwidth than downloading an email or audio file. Communication over the cloud, which is now a necessity in any industry, also consumes a sizable chunk of bandwidth - and the more users that are communicating at once, the less bandwidth will be available.
Large calling centers equipped with VoIP phone systems will likely benefit more from dedicated Internet than from shared Internet; each user gets the bandwidth they need to make and receive calls without overstepping on the bandwidth of others. With dedicated Internet, one of such centers would never run short of bandwidth or run into bandwidth bottlenecks.
However, the problem with dedicated Internet that some growing organizations face is cost. Dedicated Internet offers reliability and consistent speeds at a price that smaller organizations may not be ready to commit to.
Shared Internet access is much more affordable for small-medium businesses that don’t yet experience slow-downs during the business day (due to bandwidth overuse). That said, if a small business’s users absolutely need reliable Internet that doesn’t slow with heavy use (such as those with VoIP-equipped customer service), the investment in dedicated Internet is typically worthwhile.