Actually, there's been a dramatic reduction in the cost per Mbps of carrier services since many business leaders last got quotes and were so shocked and horrified by the results that they shelved the entire idea. It started with the bursting the famous "tech bubble" of the 1990's. Yes, back then bandwidth was jaw-dropping expensive and not all that widely available. But the collapse of technology sector growth resulted in an almost immediate bandwidth glut and prices did what you'd expect. They fell to a level that matched demand. So dire was the situation that for years conduits chock full of new fiber strands went unlit and unused.
That glut was gradually sopped up by an expanding economy, but costs have not returned to their earlier high levels as you might think would happen with a shrinking supply and increasing demand. The reason is that supply is not shrinking. It is expanding. It is expanding due to new companies entering the field and building out their own networks to the latest standards.
That's important because regional and nationwide fiber optic networks are incredibly expensive to deploy. All that fiber has to go in the ground, on overhead poles, or through unused pipelines. Plus the equipment that regenerates the signals as they get weak traveling hundreds and thousands of miles through the glass fibers, and multiplexes and demultiplexes the various services at each POP or Point of Presence, represents a huge capital investment. Once a carrier has installed a particular type of system, they want to pay it off and generate profits for as long as possible. They're not all that anxious to toss everything out in a "fork lift upgrade" and bring in all new technology.
This gives newer players an advantage because they don't have all that legacy equipment to amortize. They start fresh with the latest and most efficient systems. As as example, many competitive carriers have installed IP based optical networks while the telcos are still running TDM based networks designed for digitized telephone calls rather than packet traffic. With enough slicing and dicing, you can get any network to transport any protocol. But it's more efficient and less costly to match your network to the type of traffic you expect to handle now and in the future.
The result of an increasingly competitive marketplace for optical carrier services encouraged by a rapid growth in business demand for bandwidth to improve speed and efficiency is making for an attractive situation if you are the one buying the bandwidth. A further improvement in the process is the emergence of telecom brokers with sophisticated online comparison tools to gather rate information from many carriers and present them in an ordered list from cheapest to most expensive for the same service.
The best of these is the industry leader, Telarus, Inc., with its patented groundbreaking search tool called GeoQuote(tm) that you can access yourself through Gigapackets.com. This tool accesses the databases of a couple of dozen competitive carriers to generate accurate service quotes for lower speed services such as T1 lines in a matter of seconds.
Higher level services, such as SONET OC3, OC12, OC48 and OC192 fiber optic services or IP services, such as Carrier Ethernet to 10 GigE levels, and MPLS networks require some engineering input and may take a few hours. Telarus consultants usually have a good idea of typical costs for these services so you can get a budgetary figure quickly. Be sitting down when you ask. You may be shocked by the amount of bandwidth you can afford these days.