Guidelines for selecting internet access


Among our clients the three most common technologies used for business and residential internet access are T1, DSL (digital subscriber line), and cable modem. We rarely use cable modems for business or T1s for residential internet access. DSL comes in two varieties that are often referred to as business-class (SDSL) and residential-class (ADSL).

Business access ranges from $250 to $1000 per month depending on a range of factors including the choice of DSL or T1, the distance between the customer and the nearest telephone switching facility, and the secondary services required (number of IP addresses, voice and data bundles, etc.). While the telecommunications landscape has been shifting dramatically every few months, in recent years we have been using XO predominantly.

In theory, a T1 will provide greater reliability than a DSL line. In NYC, however, our experience has been that both line types vary widely in reliability from location to location. The cost of DSL is generally lower and DSL is available at higher “theoretical” speeds than a T1, but DSL line speeds are not guaranteed and can differ widely from published numbers.

Although we have not used them with any active clients yet, we have also considered M5 Networks, a new kind of provider. They not only provide voice and data connectivity over a single connection (with a second line for redundancy) but also replace the central phone system itself using a system called Voice over IP (VoIP). Other, more consumer companies such as Vonage offer VoIP solutions, but the majority of these assume you will provide your own internet service.

Residential access is approximately $50 per month and we generally use Time Warner’s Road Runner for cable modem and Speakeasy or Verizon for DSL.

If a user wishes to provide free wireless internet access (see NYC Wireless for more information) on their line, we use Speakeasy because their acceptable use policy (AUP) explicitly allows this kind of sharing (Time Warner and Verizon expressly prohibit it).

As an aside, Verizon is using their massive number of public pay phone locations to build out a substantial wireless network around Manhattan and Verizon DSL subscribers have (at least for the moment) free access to this network.

Choosing between cable modem and DSL for residential access is discussed in detail at, in this Insight Research Report, and in this thorough report from MIT.