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Choosing between dedicated and shared service

We have 30 Internet users who are logged on to the Internet for 9 hours daily. We have currently a 128 kbps leased line for Internet access. The access is very slow and hence we decided to increase the bandwidth. When we approached the service provider (ISP) they offered us a solution to increase the bandwidth to 256kbps (1:1). The rates for this are very high. We also came to know that the ISP provides 1 mb bandwidth (1:4). The cost of the same is less than 256 kbps (1:1). Which should we opt for? What is the difference between shared bandwidth and raw bandwidth?
Choosing between dedicated and shared service is a tricky decision. Clearly the advantage of higher potential bandwidth at lower cost makes sharing attractive. But if that shared line is horribly over-subscribed, you might was well not have any bandwidth at all.

If choosing the shared line, your ISP should provide you with two things: 1) an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that guarantees you some minimum level of performance and 2) some means of confirming that you have that performance. Otherwise, they may be selling you the Golden Gate bridge, along with 10,000 other unfortunates, all of whom will be stuck in traffic at rush hour when they really need to be somewhere else.

Does your ISP offer an SLA for the 1 Mbps line? Do you require the benefit of a dedicated link (such as security, control, guaranteed bandwidth)? Can you get access to the 1 Mbps service on a trial basis?

This was last published in August 2003

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