The speed of wideband Featured

7:00pm EDT January 26, 2010

Some businesses are still using T1 lines, while others have moved on to broadband. Now, there’s wideband, which will allow business users to download data at up to 50 Mbps per second, says Taylor Nipper, director of marketing at Comcast.

“With the faster speeds available through a wideband connection, you’ll spend less time waiting and more time being productive,” Nipper says.

Smart Business spoke with Nipper about how using a wideband service can cut costs and send productivity soaring.

What are the benefits of wideband over broadband and DSL?

First and foremost is the download and upload speed capabilities. A full T1 is 1.5 Mbps, DSL is typically 3 Mbps, and the typical business broadband is 12 MG per second. But with wideband technology, businesses can download files at up to 50 Mbps and upload at 10 Mbps. That’s more than 30 times faster than a T1 line, which is traditionally the phone company’s fastest pipe.

A lot of businesses have historically used a T1 connection for the Internet because it was the fastest available, then broadband came along and offered a faster pipe, but until recently, it was capped out at 6 MB to 12 MB. Now, with the new wideband technology, that throughput can be increased to 50 Mbps and, in the future, will have the capability of increasing to 100 Mbps. The new technology uses channel bundling, which allocates more channel space for the downstream and upstream. Internet over cable uses spectrum, and there are more channels allocated for the Internet.

How can wideband grow with a business?

The advantage of wideband technology over a traditional T1 line or DSL is that it is scalable and future-proof. With traditional phone company technology, you have to keep adding multiple T1 lines, which is infinitely more expensive than growing with a broadband or wideband connection and can require a long time to deploy.

With wideband, you aren’t physically adding lines. Because it’s through a cable modem device, that device can deliver multiple speeds depending on the service you subscribe to. There’s just one installation, and you could start out with 12 Mbps and, in the future, increase it as needed with a simple phone call to your provider.

How is wideband technology future-proof?

Increasingly, the trend is for businesses to rely on hosted applications, meaning that the data is not hosted on-site, it’s hosted elsewhere. You traditionally see that with sales force automation tools, customer relationship management tools and financial reporting.

Many businesses are now backing up and storing their data off-site. Any business that is using hosted applications, and more and more are going that route every day, is going to need faster Internet services to be able to get the most out of those applications.

What kinds of businesses could benefit from this high-speed technology?

Wideband is ideal for any data-intensive business that needs that kind of speed and is looking for an alternative to the slower, more expensive T1 line. With download speeds up to 50 Mbps, a business could download a 1 G file in 2.5 minutes, as opposed to a typical T1 line, which would take three hours and tie up the machine while the file is downloading. With wideband, it’s so much faster; you can get it in minutes and go on to the next project.

The service is ideal for the health care industry, for example, to transmit X-rays. Ad agencies that transmit large graphic files could also benefit from the high speed, and real estate agencies that send out big files find it useful, as well.

For any business that needs high-resolution files and has lots of data needs, it’s an obvious choice once you see the advantages of the higher speeds through the time you save and the resulting higher productivity. It’s also a good choice for any business that’s growing. If you have 20 employees today but are going to have 50 in the future, with all those users on the Internet, you’re going to need that kind of throughput.

What other things should a business look at when choosing a provider?

You have to look at what other services come with the package, such as business tools built in to streamline communication. Security features are also available, which guard against viruses and spyware, and some offer full-featured Web hosting plans. When a business is looking for an Internet provider, it needs to look at everything that is included in the service.

What would you say to business owners who say they can’t afford a higher-speed connection?

There are different price points at different speeds. Wideband technology is new and unique, and it’s vastly more affordable than most other options. Also, a wideband connection is a better value, providing additional services to the package such as security tools and Web hosting, which provides additional savings over using a third party to provide that service. A business owner really needs to shop around and find out what’s included in the service other than just the speed.

Taylor Nipper is director of marketing at Comcast. Reach him at (770) 559-2067 or taylor_nipper@cable.comcast.com.