Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Broadband for ALL

High-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury for nonprofits – it’s a necessity. As high-speed access (also known as ‘broadband’) has become common in homes, more and more businesses, governments, and agencies have shifted much of their information and business delivery online – and the bar for what constitutes an adequate connection gets higher every year.

When your organization is evaluating Internet access, it’s important to remember that there are two speed numbers to consider – not just one. Most ‘consumer’ grade products (such as DSL and cable) will hype the download speed – that’s how fast data from the Internet moves to your network. The upload speed – how fast you can transmit to the Internet – is usually far less than the download speed, and can be as slow as dial up with some offerings.

If you have a number of users on an ‘asymmetrical’ Internet connection, requests for data can quickly clog the small upstream ‘pipe’, bringing downloads and browsing to a screeching halt. Email and remote access will only make this worse. As you consider an Internet connection, pay attention to the upload speeds – and better yet, consider a ‘symmetric’ service if possible.

For the typical small office with 5-10 users, expect to spend at least $100/month for adequate bandwidth. If you have special needs like remote access, or host an email server in house, you may expect to double or triple that cost.

Need to research your options? Broadband Reports is a great place to read independent reviews of Internet service providers and search for offerings.

Written by Ben Hendricks

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