Comcast Business Class 100 Mbps / 10 Mbps service is definitely for real and the answer to a profit squeezed company’s prayers. All of a sudden, that big constriction at the LAN/WAN interface is gone. Files move fast. Web pages pop before your eyes. Email? You could drown in all the email that can flood in at 100 Mbps.
So, how do you get OC-3 or Fast Ethernet bandwidth levels without the high cost of fiber? What you tap into is HFC or Hybrid Fiber Coax. That’s the technical name for the finely tuned network that Comcast has deployed in their vast service area. There are two types of transport technologies that are welded together in HFC. Hence, the hybrid designation. The core of the network is a robust fiber optic backbone that is worthy of any major carrier. The access connections are coaxial copper cable. You know it as TV cable. What you may not realize is just how much bandwidth that coax connection supports.
Cable TV companies started using coaxial cable back when they were little more than enormous master antennas. The same coax that connects from your outdoor TV antenna to the back of your TV set can also bring in a much larger set of channels from your Cable company. Decades ago, it was all analog on Cable and over the air. Now it’s all digital. The RF spectrum on the cable is still channelized, with one digital TV station per slot. There are a lot of TV channels to choose from, but they don’t use all the possible channels that the cable can support. Some of those channels have been set aside for broadband or telephone services.
Besides the analog to digital transition, the other thing that’s changed with Cable operations is deployment of a fiber optic backbone to interconnect the multiple systems that the Cable operator owns and bring all the programming content into the neighborhood. This fiber network has far greater capacity than the old style large diameter coaxial distribution cable.
If fiber is so great, then why not run it directly to homes and businesses? Someday, that’s what will probably happen. Right now, the economics say no. Fiber termination equipment is expensive. Trenching a roll of plastic coated copper coax and connecting it to a wall outlet is cheap. With the ability to deliver television, broadband Internet access and telephone on that inexpensive little line, who wants to pony up for fiber?
You don’t or you’d already have installed SONET OC-3, OC-12, OC-48 or Ethernet over Fiber service for your business. Either the construction cost is a show stopper or the monthly lease fees are more than your budget can handle. Now you have another choice with Comcast’s 100 Mbps business broadband. It’s inexpensive and it can be installed quickly for any business that the Cable infrastructure passes.
What makes this service so affordable? For one thing, the cost of the network is spread over thousands of television and broadband customers. For another, this is not a true telecom service like SONET or Ethernet. Those services are symmetrical in that they have the same upload and download speeds. If you need 100 Mbps in both directions, Comcast’s offering won’t work for you. It’s specified at up to 100 Mbps download and up to 10 Mbps upload. That configuration is exactly what you need for general Internet access, where uploads are few and small but downloads are frequent and massive.
Also note that Cable is shared and not dedicated bandwidth. An OC-3 fiber connection gives you 155 Mbps all to yourself. Whatever you don’t use sits idle until you need it. You are sharing the Cable bandwidth availability with other users so that the network is always in use. This sharing also means that your bandwidth will vary throughout the day depending on what everyone is doing online. Does it matter? It may or may not, depending on how important it is to you to have that 100 Mbps at your disposal at all times.
Finally, there are no service level agreements like you have with T1 lines and the like. This is a “best effort” information service that is offered as-is. Even so, Comcast takes its network seriously and works to keep it as reliable as possible. If you’ve used home Cable broadband and been happy with the way it performed, then you’ll probably be happy with the bigger, faster Business Class service that gives all your employees a similar level of service while accessing the Internet on their desktop computers.
Are you a Michigan business owner or IT manager who’s anxious for high speed Internet access at a very affordable price? Check into prices and availability for 100 Mbps Internet options at your location. Note that Comcast and other fast Internet services are also available for locations other than Michigan.
Note: Photo of Detroit skyline courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.