When it comes to finding broadband for your company, you may have to work through the industry's weak financial state and limited availability in certain areas. A T1 line from one of the four Baby Bells may be the option with the least hassle. Count on trouble-free speeds as high as 1.5Mbps, but at charges well north of $1,000 a month.
You can also find comparable T1 service for about 30 percent cheaper from outfits like Covad, which also sells Symmetric DSL at similar speeds for still less money. Covad offers 1.5Mbps SDSL for around $400 a month. But SDSL bandwidth declines as you move away from a telephone switching center and, at three miles, you're out of range.
You might still be able to get Asymmetric DSL from a Covad or a Baby Bell. Download speeds vary between 144Kbps and 1.5Mbps, and upload speeds are from 128Kbps to 256Kbps. Prices run about $50 to $200 monthly, depending on the service level you demand. But complaints about installation delays and service are legion.
A new option in rural areas is the 802.11b version of fixed wireless over the 2.4GHz band used by indoor Wi-Fi LANs. Monthly charges start at $50 for satellite service at 128Kbps but can jump to $400 for T1 speeds or to $600 to $700 for symmetric 1.5Mbps. And because businesses need a direct line of sight to the transmitting towers, service may be affected by bad weather or by other users.
Despite drawbacks, either cable or satellite can provide a good back-up option, and it couldn't hurt to have multiple providers. For example, Kelly gets cable, DSL and dial-up in his home office.
All those visions of supply chain cost savings and cozy customer relationships that were spun by the dotcoms are promises that aren't broken-only deferred. The Internet will be back bigger and faster than ever. Be ready.
|While T1 and Asymmetric DSL are available from almost any local phone company, here are some other broadband options to explore:|
Mike Hoganis Entrepreneur's technology editor.
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