Guide to High Speed Internet Access – Small business information, insight and resources | Thu, 14 Feb 2019 18:32:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 157446745 Comcast Business Unveils Roll-out Plans for Gig Speed Internet | 2017 Wed, 25 Jan 2017 02:08:22 +0000

As we’ve been saying for nearly three years, “gig speed” internet is right around the corner for small businesses. But here at HQ, three different providers have yet to come knocking on our door, despite our office being just a few feet away from the fiber that’s been laid for, well, nearly three years. Now, one of those providers has announced a whole new high-speed internet access service that requires no new fiber. Even better,  one of the first four markets they’re rolling out the new service is our hometown, Nashville. But don’t fret, they’ll be coming to your town soon, if you believe press releases.

Note: The editor made us add these 2 geek-glossary notes before jumping straight into the deep end of the Megabit pool.

1 | The acronym “DOCSIS” is from the term “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification” and is a telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-speed data transfer using an existing cable TV (CATV) system. When you see the term DOCSIS it will sometimes include the version number at the end of the acronym, (e.g., DOCSIS 3.1).

2 | 1 Gig speed refers to a super fast internet speed (super fast = 1,000 Megabits per second, or Mbps. 1,000 Mbps = a Gigabit per second, thus “1 Gig speed”). 500 speed refers to internet speed that’s 500 Mpgs. The speed of a typical fixed broadband connection to the internet in the U.S. is (are you sitting down?) 11 Mbps. But forget all this math. Here’s clever video to explain the difference in internet speeds.

So, where were we?

Comcast Business (a part of the giant cable and entertainment company) today announced it has begun offering two “speed tiers” of high-speed internet access to business customers in its Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Nashville service areas. Enabled by DOCSIS 3.1, Comcast will offer internet access in both 500 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps speeds. Branded “Business Internet 1 Gig” and “Business Internet 500,” the two speed tiers are now available to thousands of business customers in these Comcast service areas using the company’s existing network (i.e., no digging up streets like those Google Fiber folks).

For small and mid-sized businesses in buildings already served by Comcast, upgrading to Business Internet 1 Gig or Business Internet 500 will be as simple as calling Comcast or visiting to change their service, and ordering a new modem.

Without having to install fiber, Comcast has the potential to deploy gigabit service more widely across its existing network. Comcast has an additional enterprise internet service called Comcast Business Ethernet, which the company launched and has been expanding nationally since 2011. Those services can support speeds of 100 gigabits per second over fiber.

Don’t worry, the service is coming your way soon

In addition to the markets announced today, Comcast Business plans to launch Business Internet 1 Gig and Business Internet 500 in the majority of its service areas throughout 2017 and into 2018.

Pricing for the services varies based on a business’s location. (We’ll update this post after Comcast comes knocking on our door.)

Google Fiber Stops Rollout Plans in 10 Cities, Apparently Shifting to Wireless Alternative | 2016 Thu, 27 Oct 2016 14:15:32 +0000

Google Fiber is laying off or reassigning about nine percent of its staff as well as “pausing” or ending fiber operations in 10 cities where it hadn’t yet fully committed to building, according to

Google Fiber already offers high-speed internet service in eight metro areas and is still committed to building in another four. The company recently purchased a wireless ISP called Webpass, which offers high-speed wireless internet in six metro areas. According to the Arstechnica, “(Google) seems set on expanding wireless service going forward.”

Quote from Arstechnica:

“Google Fiber apparently has not hit its subscriber goals, and fiber construction is a costly endeavor. While the company isn’t giving up on fiber entirely, it may be able to deploy Internet service at a lower cost using wireless technology.”

Google Fiber is already available in these cities

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Charlotte
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Kansas City, Kansas
  • Nashville
  • Provo
  • Salt Lake City
  • Triangle area of North Carolina

Google Fiber is still publicly committed to building in these cities

  • Huntsville, Ala.
  • Irvine, Calif.
  • San Antonio
  • Louisville

Google Fiber operations will be paused or ended in these cities

  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Jacksonville
  • Los Angeles
  • Oklahoma City
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • Tampa

Webpass Cities

Google Fiber’s recently purchased Webpass provides fiber-like speeds. However, while the wireless technology is cost-effective for multi-unit residential buildings and businesses, it is not in suburban single-family homes.

Webpass is already available in these cities

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Miami
  • San Diego
  • Oakland
  • San Francisco

Photo: Google Fiber

Small Town, Rural Broadband Threatened by New State Laws | 2016 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 17:21:26 +0000

In our previous coverage of high-speed fiber internet networks that are slowly roling out across the country, we’ve mentioned that some cities and towns aren’t waiting for big cable and phone companies to offer such service. Towns such as Chattanooga, Tenn., have turned to their city-owned electric utilities to develop municipal broadband networks. These city-run internet providers have increased competition in the broadband market by serving residents where commercial networks have been unwilling to go. The New York Times is reporting today that such municipal-run broadband networks are now caught in a legal battle between the Federal Communications Commission (for them) and  state legislators (against them) over the spread of municipal broadband networks.

This month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that will halt the growth of municipal-own high speed internet access. While the decision directly affects only those two states, it has cast a shadow over dozens of city-run broadband projects started nationwide in recent years to help solve the digital divide.


“In siding with the states, the court hobbled the boldest effort by federal officials to support municipal broadband networks. While the court agreed that municipal networks were valuable, it disagreed with the F.C.C.’s legal arguments to pre-empt state laws. Now, (small towns with plans to develop broadband networks) fear they have little protection from laws like those in about 20 states that curb municipal broadband efforts and favor traditional cable and telecom firms. City officials say cable and telecom companies that have lobbied for state restrictions will be encouraged to fight for even more draconian laws, potentially squashing competition that could lead to lower prices and better speeds to access the web.”

Continue reading on “Broadband Law Could Force Rural Residents Off Information Superhighway

VIA | Dhaluza at

How to Speed Up Your Small Business Wi-Fi Network | 2016 Mon, 25 Jul 2016 11:00:44 +0000

Does your office or home wi-fi signal seem a little sluggish these days? Many little issues can combine to slow down your wireless network (or “wireless local area network – W-LAN” or “hotspot”). Try some of the following to see what your problem might be and for things you can do to speed things up.

Introduction |  The speed of your office wireless network is determined by two factors

Wires | By wires, we mean cables made of copper, fiber and other materials that deliver the internet to your internet service provider (ISP) and, in turn, are used by your ISP to deliver the internet to a device called a “router” that’s in your office.

Waves | By waves, we mean the radio frequencies that magically and invisibly transforms the internet from the router that you own (or that is provided by your ISP) into a wireless local area network (LAN or “hot spot”).

(Note: Many things other than wi-fi speed can slow down your computer. This type of slow typically happens when you are using a web browser and cat videos seem hard to load.)

1 | Test the speed of your Wi-Fi signal

Test | Using Google, search the two words “speed test.” Google partners with M Labs for a simple version of its measurement tool found at At the top of the Google search page, you’ll find this.


Click the blue “Run Speed Test” button and you’ll see something like the animated GIF below.

speed-test-wide-The speed test measures your connection’s download speed, upload speed, and latency. The best internet connections have high download and upload speeds but low latency. A message will appear indicating whether or not you internet speed looks good.

Download Speed | How fast information is being transferred to you

It affects things like how long it takes to download large files or display webpages with lots of images. Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Upload Speed | How fast information can be transferred from you

It affects things like how long it takes to post pictures to social media. Upload speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Latency | How quickly you get a response from the server

Low response times are important for real-time apps like video chat and online gaming. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms).

2 | Tip #1: Update your router

searchLook at your device for any of the following numbers:  802.11a, 802.11b or 802.11g. If your router has one of those numbers on it, we’re sorry to inform you that it’s time for you to upgrade to 802.11ac.

If you have less than ten employees who aren’t cloud-based software developers, video editors or who use the internet in ways that suggest they are already extremely aware of networking challenges and solutions, you should purchase (or, in some cases your ISP may provide as part of your service) an  “AC” specified router that is towards the top-end of a consumer-grade product. Make sure, also, that it carries a “Wi-Fi Certified” logo.

The routers below are robust enough to handle the needs of most offices with 7-10 employees. However, all businesses are different and your’s may require multiple devices in various locations depending on the size and duties of your workers.

, , ,,

*Products are current models in July 2016, as listed on Affiliate links.

Want to dig deeper into comparing wireless routers?

Here are some feature/performance/pricing comparisons on various websites. (July, 2016)

3 | Wi-fi strength boosting tips

Here are some do’s and dont’s to follow whether you have a new router or old.

Do | Move the router to a central location

Do | Elevate the router

Do | Periodically, unplug and plug back in the router. If it has a battery pack, make sure to remove it during such a hard reboot.

Don’t | Place router on floor

Don’t | Place router in closed-off area

Don’t | Place router near objects that can interfere with the signal: concrete walls, microwave ovens, cordless phones, large metal objects


Why Comcast Giving up its Time Warner Cable Acquisition is Good for Small Business | 2015 Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:59:19 +0000 Over a year ago, we explored the topic, “What a Merged Comcast-Time Warner Cable Could Mean for Small Businesses.”

In it, we said:

“One issue that is already having a negative impact on businesses—and could worsen without more competition—is the growing gap between the speed of internet access available to most small businesses in the U.S. vs. other countries in the world where fiber optics networks are more widely available.”

Fast forward to today.

Reported first by, Comcast Corp. is dropping its proposed $45.2 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc. due to growing resistance in Washington. This week, U.S. Federal Communications Commission staff joined lawyers at the Justice Department opposing the transaction. FCC officials told representatives of the two biggest U.S. cable companies on Wednesday that they are leaning toward concluding the merger doesn’t help consumers.

According to the New York Times, the issue we focused on when the deal was announced is precisely the issue that brought down the merger.

Quote via

“In this sense, it didn’t really matter if Comcast and Time Warner’s cable markets overlapped. The real issue was broadband.”

Bottom line for small business

As we have reported over the past 18 months, having access to the internet at speeds over 100 times faster than what is today called broadband will open up a wave of innovation in the ways we work, the products we can produce and the relationships we can sustain.

And because of the FCC’s recent decision in favor of net neutrality, access to such speeds will be available to small businesses at the same price as it’s available to giant corporations (in much the same way that any car, whether owned by a large company or small, can drive over a toll-bridge for the same price).

As most often is the case, competition is good.

Do you believe the acquisition would have benefitted small businesses? Add your point-of-view in the comments below.

More Good News From the Front Lines of the Faster Internet Wars | 2015 Mon, 13 Apr 2015 20:05:42 +0000

If you’ve been following our updates about the rollout of high-speed internet “gigaspeed” fiber networks, you’ll recognize a pattern in which a city’s incumbent phone or cable company will have no plans to upgrade their existing network until Google Fiber announces it is coming to town.

Then the incumbent suddenly announces its own plans for higher speed internet access. As they say: “Competition is good.” Especially when it comes to competition over internet access at faster internet speeds for the same price as the speeds it will be replacing.

That’s the most recent update from the faster ‘net  battle in Charlotte, N.C., where, as we reported in January, Google is set to begin installing a fiber network. Time Warner Cable, the incumbent cable provider, is trying to pre-empt Google Fiber by upgrading its existing network to a completely digital one that will boost internet speeds to about six times their current speeds—for no additional costs.

While nowhere near as fast as the fiber network Google will be installing, Time Warner can get their upgrade installed faster. And there’s nothing to complain about with the price of the improved speeds: the same as today.

As Kate Cox of The Consumerist writes, “when Google announces plans to expand into a new market, competitors either strive to dive in first or drop prices to match. In short, even customers who don’t sign up with Google benefit from Google’s entrance into their local markets.”

It’s “almost as if competition is a real and valuable thing that spurs businesses to offer better service, at better prices, to consumers,” she writes with tongue solidly in cheek.


Comcast Unveils Gigabit Pro, Scorching Fast Fiber ‘Net Access | 2015 Fri, 03 Apr 2015 15:44:33 +0000

In recent months, we’ve tracked several announcements related to cable, data, phone providers [and Google] rolling out high-speed, fiber “gigabit speed” access to the internet. The term “gigabit speed” comes from the measurement of such speed, gigabit-per-second, or Gbps. One gigabit-per-second is about 150 times faster than what is today considered “broadband” [or, as we will start referring to as “wired broadband” to designate that it is delivered via wire and not fiber.] The announcement by Comcast in this article refers to a speed of 2 Gbps. This is twice the speed of the fiber networks we’ve previously covered. The article mentions that Comcast already delivers access to the internet to businesses at speeds up to 10 Gbps.

Comcast announced on Thursday it will offer residential 2 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) internet access service to more than 1.5 million customers in Atlanta starting in May 2015. The service, branded Gigabit Pro, will be delivered via a fiber-to-the-home solution. Service will be offered broadly across the Atlanta metro area and will be the fastest residential internet speed in the country, according to the company.

“Our approach is to offer the most comprehensive rollout of multi-gigabit service to the most homes as quickly as possible, not just to certain neighborhoods,” said Doug Guthrie, SVP of Comcast Cable’s South Region.

The service is now just limited to residential customers. It appears to be a move to defend itself against competitors like AT&T (who threatened to halt its fiber expansion plans before the FCC’s recent “net neutrality” vote, but despite losing that effort, announced on Monday plans to expand service in Silicon Valley). Comcast has a large base of small business customers in Atlanta service areas, as well. Companies like Google Fiber have started new service in a region with residential customers, but have followed up with small business services.

Gigabit Pro will be available to any home within close proximity of Comcast’s fiber network and will require an installation of professional-grade equipment. The company has fiber at the core of its network and, for the past decade, it has been extending it deeper into neighborhoods and closer to homes. To date, Comcast has built out more than 145,000 route miles of fiber across its service area.

Comcast has been delivering multi-gig (up to 10 Gbps) ethernet service to businesses since 2010. The company currently serves more than 1.5 million businesses nationwide. Earlier this month, Comcast announced a technology partnership with the Atlanta Braves to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to residences and businesses throughout the team’s new mixed use and stadium development project.

Google Fiber Announces Rollout to Four More Cities | 2014 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:00:33 +0000 Google announced today that it is expanding its high-speed gigabit internet service, Google Fiber, to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham. The network is already running in parts of Provo, Utah; Austin and Kansas City.

Google Fiber’s gigabit service offers speeds about 100 times faster than the average speed available in the U.S.

Speaking with business, tech and civic leaders at a Nashville midday news conference, Kevin Lo, director of Google Fiber business and operations, highlighted the relationship between music and technology in Nashville as two deciding factors making the city the right place for super high-speed service.

With a music scene “like no other,” and a strong commitment to technology and entrepreneurship, Nashville has “all the right ingredients to do transformative things,” Lo said. (Google is a sponsor of Nashville’s new music-tech business accelerator, one of its many areas of involvement in the city.)

While the four Southeastern cities know that Google Fiber is heading their way, “the hard work is just beginning,” said Lo. The installation of the fiber network could take up to two years to engineer and deploy. “You’ll see hundreds of crews around the city installing the network,” he said.

Nashville is the second city in Tennessee to get gigabyte speed internet service. Chattanooga created one of the nation’s first high-speed services using a public utility model and earning the city a new nickname, Gig City.

google fiber plansAT&T Stays on the Gig Speed Sideline

After Google signaled it was taking fiber into new cities across the country, AT&T announced similar plans to 100 cities it already serves. But then, last November, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson announced the company is going to hold off on their plans because President Obama encouraged the Federal Communications Commission to regulate AT&T more like public utilities–as part of his support for net neutrality.

In today’s announcement, Google’s Lo did not mention any competitors or net neutrality, except to say in a veiled reference to the issue that Google Fiber would be able to stream Netflix movies with no buffering.

American Cities Lag the World in High Speed Low Cost Internet Service | 2014 Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:18:28 +0000 In many ways, the internet has revolutionized the potential for small businesses anywhere to serve customers everywhere. It may seem a bit perplexing, therefore, to realize that most U.S. cities (and the businesses in them) lag far behind cities outside the U.S. when it comes to high speed low cost internet access.

The recently released policy paper from the Open Technology Institute, The Cost of Connectivity, 2014, compares the cost and speeds of broadband offerings in 24 cities across the world and finds the U.S. coming up slow.

What most of us in the U.S. call “broadband” access is closer to AOL dialup days than to the speeds many cities (and the businesses in them) have access to around the world. Those cities have the type of speed available only through fiber-based networks; speeds that are up to 100x faster than that available to the typical U.S. internet user.

As we’ve shared before, only a few American cities already have “giga-speed” internet access. Google Fiber (notably, Kansas City on the chart below) and AT&T (and to a lesser extent, other cable companies and telcos) are picking up the pace of competition and expanding into more cities. And some cities, like Chattanooga, Tenn., refused to wait on fiber providers to come to them; they created a city-owned fiber network using the model (and some infrastructure) of other public utilities. (It’s why they rank so highly on the chart below.)


If competition between the major telcos and cable companies doesn’t drive the expansion of fiber networks, then it may be up to municipalities to take matters into their own hands–like Chattanooga. That Tennessee city saw giga-speed internet as a competitive advantage for attracting technology companies — not just from around the U.S., but from around the world.

While the U.S. has led the world in technology development related to the internet, it can still fumble the future if more cities and businesses don’t have access to the internet that is low cost and high speed rather than high cost and low speed.

Cox Joins Google, AT&T in Super-Fast Internet Race | 2014 Thu, 01 May 2014 20:34:53 +0000 Now there are three. As we’ve reported, AT&T and Google Fiber are competing in a lobbying effort to gain the backing of local municipalities in offering their cities 1 Gigabit per second (1Gbps) internet access that is up to 100-times faster than the broadband access most Americans now have. Cable giant Cox Communications has now joined the competition of claims by announcing that within two weeks, it will name the markets it will target with its 1Gbps service, according to Bloomberg News.

“We’re working on our road map now to bring gigabit speeds to customers this year,” Cox CEO Pat Esser said on Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

The Cox announcement came before today’s deadline imposed by Google Fiber on cities wanting to be considered for their service. According to the Digits Blog, all 34 cities considered for the expansion of Google’s fiber internet service met the deadline by responding to a 29-page checklist of requirements from the company.

Cox, a privately-held company, has about 6 million residential and business customers, according to Bloomberg. Most of their customers currently see speeds of up to 25 megabits per second, Esser said. While the fiber service is being described as a consumer product, businesses make up a significant portion of Cox’s revenue. Esser said in the interview that more than $1.6 billion in 2013 sales came from Cox’s business clients who pay the company for internet and phones connections.

Google Fiber recently announced it will expanding its Kansas City service to businesses before the end of 2014.