Internet Access in NM – Fast, Cheap, Reliable – Pick Two!

Got a call from a customer this morning – “The Internet’s Down!”

This was fairly ironic because just yesterday, we had set up a secondary DSL connection from CenturyLink as a backup connection – The culprit this morning – Comcast.

Here is a kind of technical note – there are two ways your Internet can go down:

Soft: Everything looks like it’s working, but it’s not – What’s even worse is that if you call Comcast, they will say “Everythings fine! (like they did this morning)” – but it’s not – what a silly premise – My Internet was working and now it’s not and you all say it is working – I don’t think so! This is also the worst kind of failure because the automated fail over systems can’t usually detect this type of failure – so even though yesterday we had set up the redundant connection, because of the way Comcast was failing, it didn’t switch automatically – no surprise, this is the most common Comcast failure.

Hard: The connection actually goes completely down – the Cable Modem pops a Power supply and shuts off, or the Modem itself quits responding at all – This is much less common – in this case, automated systems work fine and other than a few seconds of no Internet, everything works like it should and you keep going if you have a backup connection. If you don’t have a backup connection, you are down.

So back to the title of this post – Why can’t I get all three? Because Telecommunication Companies are in the business of making money – Services are just the manner in which they collect money. But make no mistake, they are in business to make money – services are just they way they get money from you.

Let’s review what is available in New Mexico from cheapest to most expensive:

DSL – Cheap, Fairly Reliable, not very Fast.
DSL is a technology that uses regular phone lines to enable Internet service – It currently tops out at 80Mbit down (to you) and about 8Mbit up (to the Internet) and is fairly cheap – Around $100 if you are able to get that fast of a connection – however, it is distance-limited – the farther you are from the CO (Central Office) the slower you go. As far as reliability, once it is set up it’s usually pretty stable – MUCH better reliability than Comcast in this market.

Cable Internet – Fast, Cheap, not reliable at all
Cable Internet uses the Coaxial cable that is deployed in most residential neighborhoods in the Metro areas to deliver respectable speeds – typically 100Mbit down and about 10Mbit up and it’s around $130.00/Month. Problem is that it is not available to a LOT of business locations in dense metropolitan areas where it should be – in fact, here in Albuquerque we are constantly trying to get service to new or moved business locations and finding out that there is no service available there. The two major players in Cable in the Albuquerque Market are Comcast and Cable One – when I say their reliability is terrible, what do I mean? Here is a graph from a monitoring application in use at a customer site:

This is the graph for the last two days from a Comcast Connection at a Customer site – it is having all kinds of problems (and always does – Comcast can’t ever seem to get this site fixed!)

Compare that to the Fiber connection below:

This is the premier type of circuit for Business Internet – this is a Fiber Optic circuit at a Data Center and you can see it is working perfectly – as it should.

T1 and Bonded T1 Circuits – Slow, Very Reliable, and Expensive!
T1 is an OLD technology – they have been around for more than 25 years and they are very slow (1.5Mbit) but very reliable – if you combine enough of them (bonding) you can get to a reasonable speed for a small business of 6Mbit (4 Bonded T1’s) but the cost is prohibitive – however, in New Mexico, it is sometimes all you can get. It is also the same speed UP as it is DOWN – this is a good thing for business.

Fiber-Optic Internet – Fast, Reliable and Expensive!
This is the fastest Internet you can get (up to a Gigabit+ – a Gigabit is 1000Mbit!) and like T1 it is the same speed down as it is up – this is GOOD for business connections. But it is even less available than Cable and can cost north of $2K/Month – but this is the best, most reliable Internet you can get.

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