In the beginning, or at least before the Internet, there was the T1 line. Developed in the late 1950’s and first deployed to the public in the 1960’s, T1’s were enormously expensive and available to only the biggest companies with tons of phone lines. Because the Internet had not bee invented yet, T1’s were only used to carry large amounts of voice traffic. T1’s were mostly used by phone companies to transfer voice calls from one location to the next in the first iteration of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). And for a time, it was good.
Internet Access for the Masses
Fast forward several decades to the 1990’s. A radical innovation called the 56k dial-up connection was developed utilizing existing copper infrastructure to connect the public to a strange new world called the Internet. Earthlink and AOL roamed the earth and dominated the consumer and business markets for Internet access. The first online businesses opened. And quite literally, a whole new world of information was available to the masses as quickly as a 56k dial-up modem could deliver it. And for a time, it was good – even if you had to get off the Internet to use the phone.
Then, a breakthrough happened. Phone companies began offering a service called DSL in the late nineties on a widespread scale, offering much higher speeds than dial-up while not tying up the only phone line in the house, thus allowing users to talk on the phone and surf the Internet at the same time. While very slow by today’s standards, DSL service of 1, 3, and 5Mbps became widely available and was considered very fast at the time By then, cable companies were developing their offering of Internet access delivered over their own infrastructure of coaxial cable. It was the pinnacle of progress. And for a time, it was good. No, it was very good.
The Market Today
Today, consumers and businesses have more choices and better technology than ever before with the arrival of broadband Internet services like U-verse, FiOS, and cable Internet. With further advancements in technology, fiber-optic infrastructure has now become the standard which the telecommunications industry is held to today. Phone companies, cable companies, and other ISP’s have invested hundreds of billions of dollars into building and expanding vast fiber networks that connect hundreds of millions of business users and consumers today. Legacy copper networks are slowly being decommissioned or sold off due to high maintenance costs and technological obsolescence. With options like at&t U-verse, FiOS, and cable Internet, T1’s and DSL service are largely used only by businesses that have very limited options available or whose bandwidth needs are minimal.
So What Does This Mean For My Business?
For businesses of any size, the options for phone and Internet service are now more plentiful and more affordable than ever. Telecommunications is a highly-commoditized and rapidly changing industry, with prices always dropping and transfer speeds always increasing. Furthermore, with the expansion of fiber networks in just the last five years, areas once limited to just one or two options now have the latest and greatest services available.
For businesses that have been with the same provider for five or more years, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to shop around for other providers just to see what new technology or rates are available, even if they are satisfied with their current provider. For businesses that feel like they are overpaying for their services or are starving for bandwidth, there’s never been a better time to look at either cutting costs or getting more bang for their buck.