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In an earlier post, we talked about Austin fiber Internet service. It’s something that you’re probably hearing about everywhere lately: how fiber service is likely coming soon to a neighborhood near you. The next logical question is what should users in Austin be doing right now for Internet service.

In Austin here and now, you have a couple options:

Check if any ISPs have fiber Internet service in your area already.

While much of the fiber hype right now is around Google Fiber—which, at present, is only offered for sign up in a limited number of Austin neighborhoods—most major Internet providers offer some kind of fiber service, especially in dense office buildings.  (IT Freedom partners with several of the largest providers in Austin for these types of offerings, so drop us a line and can do the legwork for you.)

Go with an “older school” type of Internet connection like a cable modem or DSL.

Some of this technology is on its way out and these services are likely to be slower and less reliable than fiber service. Still, if you aren’t in an area that can get fiber service yet, or if the price is too steep, there are viable options especially for smaller businesses and home users.

As you’ve probably experienced, the number of different providers and options out there can be dizzying.  We’ve had a number of small businesses without in-house technical staff come to us after attempting to sort out the different services and providers on their own—the experience of identifying and dealing with a number of different salespeople all using their best marketing lingo and technical jargon to sell their own service as “The Solution” was always painful at best.

Fortunately, since we deal with these questions for small businesses on a daily basis, we were able to sort out optimum solutions for each business without much trouble.  If you find yourself overwhelmed, there are a few important things to consider:

  • Bandwidth is always getting cheaper.  This rule over-simplifies things a bit, but it generally holds true.  How much bandwidth you can get for $200/month now is probably going to be a lot less than you can get for $200/month in three years.  Keep this in mind in considering long-term contracts.

  • The Austin market for Internet service is evolving at an unprecedented pace.  If you’re lucky enough to be able to get fiber Internet service through a great provider like Grande or TW Telecom right now, signing a term contract might make sense, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you sign up for a long-term contract on a T1 or cable modem only to find out that fiber is coming to your area in six months!

  • Speed ratings on Internet services are far from the whole story.  We’ve talked about this in more detail in our Google Fiber post, but here’s a quick example to illustrate what we’re talking about: A cable modem that is rated as “up to 300 Mbps” is a very different thing from a consumer-grade fiber Internet service that is rated as “300 Mbps,” which is in turn a very different thing from an enterprise-grade fiber-service that is also rated at “300 Mbps”.  The cable modem will have a theoretical maximum download speed of 300 Mbps, but will have a much lower upload speed and will share bandwidth out to the Internet with other neighbors on your local “node.”   The consumer-grade fiber service will likely be more reliable and provide the same upload speed as download, but it will come with few guarantees about performance and uptime.  The enterprise service will be on a much more conservatively-designed network to help ensure performance, will probably place you “closer” to the Internet backbone networks that really connect things together world-wide, and should also have a much higher level of support in terms of technical competence and responsiveness to address any problems.

We hope these tips help you successfully navigate the Internet services market in Austin and elsewhere.  IT Freedom always stands ready with no-obligation initial consultations—if you’d rather let IT professionals cut through the jargon to keep your focus on your business, reach out to us.