Why Small Businesses Need to Spring for Business-Class Internet Access

Google is being accused of violating the FCCs Open Internet Order as a result of its policy toward servers. Essentially, if you run a server from a Google Fiber Internet connection, you’re technically violating the terms of service, and you could find your Internet access shut down. Google stands by that policy, but the reality is that this is only one of many reasons that small businesses should not run a server from a consumer-grade Internet connection.

The issue with Google Fiber stems from a clause in the terms of service that reads, “Unless you have a written agreement with Google Fiber permitting you to do so, you should not host any type of server using your Google Fiber connection.”

Google has been a proponent of net neutrality, but some were quick to note that Google seems to have changed teams now that it’s also in the Internet provider business. Google’s response to the FCC includes this explanation: “The server policy has been established to account for the congestion management and network security needs of Google Fiber’s network architecture, particularly given that Google Fiber does not impose data caps on its users.”

Bottom line: Google believes it has a right to ban someone from hosting a server on it’s Google Fiber network because of the potential impact it could have on the bandwidth for all of the rest of the customers. That seems reasonable.

You don’t really want to host your business server on a consumer Internet service anyway. Granted, Google Fiber delivers a 1Gbps connection for a very low cost compared to any other consumer or business service. However, Google Fiber is only available in a few select cities, and there are other reasons to choose a business-class Internet provider.

First, Google states explicitly that it doesn’t impose a bandwidth cap, but many consumer Internet services do. Comcast used to have a 250GB per month cap, but switched to a tiered-pricing plan last year for heavy users. The cap is now 300GB, after which Comcast charges $10 extra per month for each additional 50GB.

Another benefit of business-class Internet service is that you generally have a dedicated, static IP address, which makes it much easier to host and manage a server. Consumer Internet services use DHCP to randomly assign IP addresses, so your website or FTP server might be on one address today, and a different one tomorrow.

Most consumer Internet services block various TCP ports—for example port 25. It’s blocked as a measure to guard against or limit spam, based on the assumption that no consumer customer is hosting an email server (because it would violate the TOS). You want to have full access to all of the ports for your Internet access—including TCP port 25, so business-class Internet is the way to go.

Tech support is also different. Calling the consumer tech support line when you’re having an issue is typically an exercise in futility and frustration. If your business depends on the Internet connection, it can be that much more stressful. The technical support for a business-class account is generally more knowledgeable and more expedient, so you can minimize down time and keep your business online.

The operative word in the term “small and medium business” is “business”. In other words, regardless of whether your company has one employee, one hundred, or one thousand, it’s still a business, and it still needs to act like one. That is particularly true when it comes to choosing an Internet provider.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld. ]

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