A recent survey published by the Small Business Administration revealed that cable internet service accounts for nearly half of the small business high-speed Internet market. The survey theorized that this may be a result of favorable pricing or quite possibly their access to home based business professionals. Whatever the reasons, it is clear that many small businesses favor cable internet services.
A cable modem is a type of modem that allows a user to send and receive data over the cable television network. They are primarily designed to deliver broadband internet access by taking advantage of unused badnwidth on the cable television network.
Early on, cable modems offered only one way broadband access to the internet. Most systems could only take advantage of the high speed internet access when downloading information. To upload information it was necessary to use a telephone system modem. Todays cable modems are considered "two way" and use RF (radio frequency) return paths.
Originally cable companies built their networks to provide cable TV services to 97% of residential users. This accounts for why so many home based businesses make use of this service.
With the advancement of cable networks capable of providing two-way communications, such as telephone services and high-speed Internet access, cable operators have expanded their reach well into the business community. In fact, estimates suggest that cable internet services are available to almost 75% of the business community.
So how does Cable Internet Service work?
Digital cable systems utilize Radio Frequency signals to transmit data over their network. To do this they utilize cable modems. These devices convert digital information into a modulated RF signal and then convert RF signals back to digital information. A single Cable TV Channel can support multiple data streams or multiple users.
Cable internet service refers to the delivery of internet service over the cable television infrastructure. The bandwidth for business cable internet service typically ranges from 3 megabits per second to over 30 Mbit/s. Residential service, although cheaper, only offers a range of 384 kilobits per second to 6 Mbit/s.
In comparison, DSL offers less speed and larger variation between packages. Speed and quality of service are far more dependent on the users location in reference to the telephone companies nearest central office or remote terminal.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this service:
All users in a neighborhood share the bandwidth provided by a single cable line. So, connection speed is highly dependent on the number of users accessing the service at any given time. Cable companies recognized this shortcoming early on. In most cases they have eliminated this phenomenon through redundancy and the use of fiber optics. It should be noted that all networks have a finite amount of bandwidth and are sharing this amongst a multitude of users. Because cable networks are spread over larger areas than DSL networks and, therefore take in more users on a single network, great care must be taken to insure good performance. Careful traffic engineering is being performed on cable systems so that data speeds are maximized as customers are added.
Many cable internet services are also reluctant to offer just internet service to their customers. They often want to bundle it with their cable TV service. In order to entice the customer to buy the bundled service, they offer a higher rate on the stand alone high speed internet service. However, some cable internet access providers who resell access from cable companies, such as Earthlink, are generally not subject to these higher rates.
One of the knocks against cable internet services has been that it is often oversubscribed. In other words, as more people in a given geographic region tap into the system, the rate of data transfer speeds slows down. As mentioned above, this is a problem that the cable companies have been working hard to try to address.
Scott Pimental is an independent telecommunications consultant specializing in working with small business owners to find the best telecommunication solutions for their small business. His site, AmtecDigital.com has created a one-stop-shop interface that will allow you to see real-time price and availability of high speed internet services in your local area. You can visit his website at http://www.amtecdigital.com