Dedicated Internet Access Fact Sheet

The Dedicated Internet Access fact sheet is here to cover the need-to-know of DIA. What is DIA and what are the pros and cons of using it?

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Ginger Woolridge

Dec 14, 2021


Are you looking for a quick reference guide on Dedicated Internet Access (DIA)? You’ve come to the right place.  

What is Dedicated Internet Access (DIA)? 

Dedicated Internet Access is service level agreement (SLA) backed, symmetrical internet connectivity. DIA is typically delivered over fiber but can also be delivered wirelessly or over copper. Additionally, DIA bandwidth is available as fixed or burstable bandwidth. 

DIA provides guaranteed bandwidth with a connection that's provisioned specifically for you, as opposed to a “best effort” internet connection where you are sharing your bandwidth with other users. 

The features outlined above are why DIA is the standard for business or enterprise internet connectivity, where a reliable connection is table-stakes for business success

Can I get an example?

A good analogy for understanding Dedicated Internet Access is comparing it to the express lanes on a highway. While merging and exiting vehicles use shared lanes that can become congested with traffic and encounter delays (best effort internet connections), traffic in the express lane moves freely at consistent speeds (Dedicated Internet connections).

What does “Symmetrical” bandwidth mean?

Symmetrical bandwidth means that your upload and download speeds are the same, i.e. 500 mbps upload and 500 Mbps download. This is typically quoted as “500/500”. 

The connectivity you have in your home is almost definitely asymmetrical, where your download speed is faster than your upload speed. A typical, in-home internet connection is quoted as “50/3” meaning 50 Mbps download and 3 Mbps of upload bandwidth. 

Symmetrical internet is important for business connectivity where you’re likely sharing large files with coworkers via email or uploading them to the cloud, and a lack of upload bandwidth capacity could cause a serious bottleneck in your workday. Compare this to your at-home internet usage, where you likely care most about your ability to download/stream Netflix :). 

What’s a Service Level Agreement and why does it matter? 

A service-level agreement (SLA) is included with DIA connectivity from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The SLA defines your “guaranteed” network uptime (in terms of “99.9XX%”), your connection quality standards (in terms of packet loss, jitter and latency), and customer support standards in terms of mean time to respond (“MTTR”). 

It’s important to note that, outside of data center connectivity, a “99.9%” uptime SLA over the term of the contract is unlikely to be met; downtime is unfortunately inevitable, even with DIA. The remedy for a missed SLA comes in the form of “monetary credits” with your provider (similar to getting store credit vs. cash back for returning a retail purchase).  

For more information on this topic, check out our blogs here: Guide to Business Internet Service Level Agreements and Why a Backup Internet Connection Matters More Than Ever for Business

Fixed vs. Burstable bandwidth?

DIA is available in fixed or burstable bandwidth capacity. With fixed bandwidth, your provider allots a specific level of bandwidth to you and bills on that fixed amount. With burstable bandwidth, you may exceed your circuit’s committed bandwidth up to a higher bandwidth level called the “burst cap” as needed.   

The catch, however, is that utilizing bandwidth above your “burst cap” will cost you more, and will result in a bill that varies (potentially significantly) with your utilization. 

For more information on this topic, check out our blog here: Fixed or Burstable Bandwidth? Which Is Right for You?

Pros & Cons of Dedicated Internet Access

To summarize, what are the pros and cons of utilizing DIA? 

Pros of Dedicated Internet Access

  • Your connection is SLA backed, guaranteeing availability, connection quality, and a customer service mean time to respond (MTTR). The best effort internet connectivity in your home does not come with an SLA 

  • You aren’t sharing your bandwidth with anyone else, as is the case with the best effort internet connection in your home. The ratio of bandwidth capacity reserved for your circuit on the provider’s network and what you are subscribed to is 1:1 

  • DIA bandwidth is symmetrical and full duplex, meaning that your upload and download capacity is the same and you can send and receive data at full bandwidth capacity at the same time. Neither is the case with best effort internet connectivity

Cons of Dedicated Internet Access

  • Dedicated Internet is more expensive than best effort internet; typically 3x more expensive, at least. We wrote a full report on this topic here: Dedicated Internet Access (DIA): Ultimate 2021 Pricing Guide 

  • DIA circuits almost always require you sign up for a contract that protects the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a lengthy term length, with three years being the most common

  • Installing a Dedicated Internet circuit is a challenging and time consuming process; the fastest install interval you could achieve is likely ~30 days for an on-net circuit (17 is the lowest we’ve seen), effort internet which you could set up in a few days. We wrote on this topic here: Telecom Pre-Procurement Checklist: Dedicated Internet Access

  • Although DIA circuits receive better customer support than best effort internet, there’s still a chance that your ISP’s customer service will be sub-par. Additionally, opening support tickets is a hassle and recouping SLA credits is hard. Ultimately, sorting out issues with your network is still frustrating, even with DIA

Who Needs Dedicated Internet Access?

A DIA circuit is required when high bandwidth, uptime and connection quality, and/or upload capacity (not just download) is paramount to your business’ operations. 

A few Real World Examples of situations that require DIA include:

  • An office / workspace supporting 10+ employees that utilize multiple data heavy applications such as video conferencing, large file transfers, and cloud software

  • A healthcare facility servicing patients where network downtime could cause serious harm 

  • A data center connection that needs to ensure servers are always up and can transfer data quickly

  • A warehouse / logistics facility utilizing connected devices where uptime is needed at all times

  • Any store where point-of-sale (POS) connectivity downtime means the inability to sell

We wrote more on this topic here: Who Needs Dedicated Internet Access and Why?

The More You Know

We hope you enjoyed this Dedicated Internet Access fact sheet! 

Does your business need a dedicated internet access connection? As you might’ve picked up on in the “cons of DIA” section, procuring a Dedicated Internet Access circuit is a complicated and timely process. 

That’s a big part of why we started Lightyear! Our software has automated the telecom procurement process so you no longer need to waste time buying services such as DIA. 

Sound interesting? Learn more about Lightyear here or get started with our two minute procurement questionnaire here

Did you enjoy this fact sheet? Check this guide out next: The Ultimate DRaaS (Disaster Recovery) Guide

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