Choosing the right Internet provider can be complex. Here is some information that can help you better identify the needs of your company and select the Internet provider that best suits your business. First things first, you need to establish your requirements, current as well as future. You can for instance list all your applications that require an Internet connection, and sort them by priority. You can also assess the source and destination of your bandwidth; if you find that your traffic is mostly forwarded to local customers, it would be a good idea to select an Internet provider that has solid interconnections with the Quebec-based mass networks. There are two types of Internet accesses: non-dedicated and dedicated.
Non-dedicated access This access type can come through cable, copper pairs transmission (DSL) or fiber optics, and is shared with others, which makes it more economical. Usually, this access type is asymmetrical, meaning that the allowed amount of data transferred during downloading and uploading is not the same. There are usually also usage caps, and some providers use a bottleneck mechanism to control and slow down peer-to-peer transfer. Non-dedicated access can be perfectly suited to the needs of a small business, say if it only has a limited number of users and usage is similar to what can be found in the residential sector. But because of the aforementioned limitations, many larger businesses prefer having a dedicated access.
Dedicated access This access type guarantees customers a dedicated path to the Internet provider gateways, with symmetrical speeds and quick service recovery. This type of access is more expensive and usually comes through fiber optics or copper (T1, T3). Its reliability, large available data volume, and its scalability make this access type an excellent choice for companies looking for a service level guarantee and an unrivalled availability.
Interconnectivity This very important notion defines the relationships between different providers, who partner to enable data to travel and flow freely, just like a spider’s web. Two types exist: transit, and peering. Transit constitutes a link purchases from another provider. Peering is a true partnership between two providers, who agree on the terms of interconnectivity, and share infrastructure costs.
Hierarchy There are three types of Internet providers in the world, and they are classified according to their level of interconnectivity with others, like a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid, you find the Tier 1 Internet providers. These cannot purchase bandwidth, and can only do peering with other Tier 1s. These providers are very few (there are none in Canada), and they are used as a last resort to forward data traffic. The Tier 2 providers, including Videotron, are at the middle of the pyramid. They are telecommunication providers who offer services to both Tier 3 and end users. They can do peering with other Tier 2s, which makes them more numerous than the Tier 1s. At the bottom of the pyramid, you will find the Tier 3 providers, which are usually resellers. They can buy directly from Tier 1s, purchase links from Tier 2s, and do peering with other Tier 3s. They need the interconnectivity of Tier 2s, since the majority of end users are serviced by those (Videotron for instance provides 1.4 million of cable accesses, as well as fiber optics business accesses).
Other factors It is also important to consider the reputation of an Internet provider (in terms of both performance and reliability), as well as its scope. The more traffic volume an Internet provider has, the more other providers will want to do peering with it, which is good news for the users, performance-wise. Does the provider have caching servers relayed from certain popular websites, bringing users closer to them? This is also a sign of superior performance. You could additionally check if a provider overbooks, i.e. sells more bandwidth than what is available. If your company faces significant peek periods and cannot make any compromises on the quality of service, it would be wise to pick a provider which offers a monitoring mechanism that prevents Internet usage from going over a certain critical level. For more details, please don't hesitate to contact one of the Videotron Business Solutions advisers. They can plan a meeting with one of our technical experts, who will be very happy to assist you in assessing your telecommunication needs.