Business broadband
April 21, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

I need broadband for my business that is slightly better than what you can get from normal DSL. What are my options?

My new office is located in Rockville, MD (20852) and we need at least 5 mbit upstream as well as 5mbit down stream. What are the options available now for small businesses and specifically where we are located?

Covad and Verizon have not been very helpful in this quest so far.
posted by cowmix to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Earthlink offers SDSL for businesses, but only up to 1.5Mbps each way. I think they're national.
Speakeasy has an ethernet service that's 5Mbps symetric, but I have no idea if they cover your area.
posted by GuyZero at 11:19 AM on April 21, 2009

Try searching for Business Class FiOS or Business Class Cable Internet.

In the Cable world, DOCSYS 2 can be faster than DSL, and DOCSYS 3 can be faster than what FiOS is offering now.

None of the Business Class products have a terribly good SLA or QOS though. If you are looking for that kind of bandwidth and need solid QOS and a reasonable (read non-consumer grade) SLA, you'll be paying around $500-600/month for it, and will probably be locked into a 2-3 year contract, especially if they have to pull fiber to you.

Costs for the Business Class products are going to be between $59 - $199/month depending on the bandwidth you go with, but again, the SLA will say the bandwidth numbers are potential, not guaranteed.
posted by tomierna at 11:19 AM on April 21, 2009

Broadbandsreports is a good starting point for research. I'd check whether Speakeasy or Sonic are available -- pretty good support and reliability.
posted by zippy at 11:21 AM on April 21, 2009

There are three big options:

1) The fractional DS3. This is the old standby for business broadband, and can be expensive (although not in all areas), and is available just about anywhere. You can get fractional DS3s from nearly any local telephone carrier, or national players like AT&T, Sprint, XO, Time Warner Telecom, etc.

2) Ethernet over copper. This typically provides 5-10mbps symmetric over bonded DSL. Again, you'll want to check with your local carriers, or a CLEC like XO, Sprint or Speakeasy, for pricing and availability. This is harder to find, and is strongly limited by your location -- if you're not in the middle of a city, you might need to do some hunting.

3) Broadband wireless. Companies like Towersteam or Sprint offer high-bandwidth symmetric downloads in various areas. Again, highly location dependent.

I'm afraid I don't know much about your location, though. Happy hunting!
posted by eschatfische at 11:50 AM on April 21, 2009

We have a symmetric 10 mbit connection over bonded DSL lines from Costs about $700/mo in San Francisco. Not sure about any SLAs we may or may not have.
posted by ryanrs at 2:03 PM on April 21, 2009

I've dealt with AT&T/TWC/Speakeasy on all these. Speakeasy seems to always have better prices, but they often will do Ethernet over copper instead of fiber, though I notice no difference in latency.

Really the next step up is 10/10, I've never seen 5/5. You're looking at $1500 mo. ATT quoted me $2100 for a 10/10 line, 3 year contract. I'd stay away from them, they're expensive at that level.
posted by geoff. at 2:06 PM on April 21, 2009

What are your needs, specifically? 5mbps up is a lot- are you running some kind of file server? VOIP? Or just a lot of email and browsing? Your needs will dictate what you need to get. (If it's just email, consider setting up an onsite email server- it can deal with dowloading and waiting for stuff to come through, and then your clients will have the email available on your LAN.)
posted by gjc at 7:57 PM on April 21, 2009

Ask around the forums at

I was faced with the same issue recently. We had business class DSL, which was working well enough for us once I ditched the crummy router the telco provided us with, but we'd outgrown the 768kbps up it offered. A t1 would have doubled our upstream but cut our downstream by half, for 5-6x more than we were already paying. I looked at other options from Speakeasy, etc, but they weren't significantly better values. I don't really trust Comcast, but in the end, their business class cable internet service seemed like the best value. 5Mbps up and 22Mbps down for $100/month or so. We've had it for a few weeks. So far, so good.

It drives me crazy though, because one of the most connected buildings in Seattle, The Westin Building, is just across the street and down the alley.

Are you in a small office building, or do you have offices in a large building a fair number of tennants? If its the latter, there is the possibility that some provider is already supplying the building with a fat pipe, in which case, your install costs might be reasonable. Alternately, someone might be willing to bring in a fat pipe if they thought they could sign up enough customers in your building to cover the install costs.
posted by Good Brain at 11:33 PM on April 21, 2009

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