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Internet / IT Purchase Process

Can You Get Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) at Home? Yes, But…

Rob Rodier
What happens when you work from home, but you need the speed and reliability of your office’s internet? More and more professionals are facing this question as remote work becomes the new norm. In fact, a survey by Global Workplace Analytics shows that only 5% of businesses say they’ll make returning to the office mandatory after the COVID-19 pandemic. This normalization of remote work has more people asking, “Can I get business internet at home?” And not just any business internet, either. Those whose work demands a high-quality connection with guaranteed bandwidth and speed are increasingly asking about dedicated internet access (DIA). Yes, you can get dedicated business internet at home, but understand that residential DIA is a new frontier that’s challenging to navigate. That said, you can find residential DIA more easily if you keep these things in mind.

1. Residential DIA increases your upload speed to make data-intensive work easier

Knowing that you can get a dedicated business internet line at home, the next question is, do you need it? Residential DIA most benefits workers who routinely upload large amounts of data. Think of writing and shipping lots of code, editing audio and video files, or collaborating on large design projects. This kind of work clogs home internet lines because residential connections emphasize download speed over upload speed. An internet service provider (ISP) like Comcast may offer a plan with up to 600 Mbps download speed, but only 35 Mbps upload speed. That’s great for streaming Netflix and YouTube, but it bottlenecks your ability to ship data-heavy work. More importantly, home internet speeds are often quoated as best-case bandwidth estimates rather than actual bandwidth provided. During periods of peak utilization, the shared nature of residential network design means your "up to 200 Mbps" connection might get 20 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Residential DIA takes you off a shared line with your neighbors and replaces it with your own dedicated circuit. That increases your upload speed to match your download speed (aka symmetric bandwidth). You also get improved security since you’re not sharing the line with anyone. Your connection will be backed by an SLA that guarantees both speed and uptime.

2. Most business internet providers get so few residential DIA orders, they don’t have a process for them

Buying residential DIA means you have to navigate business channels as an individual user. That's rarely easy, especially in industries as big as IT and telecom. So few people succeed (or even try) that demand for DIA at home has been slow to build. And those who do succeed in getting a quote often recoil from the sticker shock. The average cost of dedicated internet access is a few hundred dollars more per month than home internet. It can even climb to more than $1,000 more per month. Sales reps know that unless the person reaching out is an IT head ordering DIA for an executive’s home, the price will likely scare the customer off. On top of that, reps shy away from residential DIA sales because they’re hung up on legacy thinking (“We don’t sell DIA to homes”), which is one of the biggest problems with buying telecom services.

dedicated internet pricing by gbps

Average business internet access costs based on a breakdown of ~1,000 price quotes. (Image source) Those factors create a lot of misunderstanding among service providers, too. If you call any of an ISP’s 1-800 numbers to find out about residential DIA, you’ll likely get a deer-in-the-headlights response from a billing or support specialist. Or you might reach someone familiar with it but only on a surface level. For instance, an ISP rep might tell you residential DIA service can’t happen because it would require leasing lines from a big carrier like AT&T. But AT&T would happily cooperate since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandates carriers have to allow wholesale access to their networks. In this case, the rep isn’t lying. They just have limited knowledge of a complex, rarely ordered service.

3. You can get business internet at home, including DIA, but you’ll be vetted and billed like a business

Breaking through to a sales rep who can give you a quote for dedicated business internet service for a home is a major milestone. But there are still more challenges ahead. From here, the carrier will vet you like a business, not a homeowner. Why? Because the economics have to work. Let’s say you’re a business ISP in New York City. You’ll invest $50,000 to run a fiber line to a building with 700 units, thinking if you can win business from just 10% of those units, you’ll more than make your money back. Compare that to digging a trench, so you can run one line to one house. The shrinking margins mean the numbers don’t work nearly as well now.

internet activity map

How close your home is to existing networks greatly impacts access to residential DIA. (Image source) So, when an ISP vets you for residential DIA, they’ll run a credit check on you as a business. They’ll also ask for your business tax ID and your network specifications. This helps the ISP answer questions like:
  • How close is your home to an existing or planned network?
  • How much would it cost to bring dedicated business internet access to your home from that network?
  • Does your creditworthiness show you can afford it?
If all that checks out, congratulations! You’ve cleared another major milestone to get dedicated business internet at home. Now, all that’s left is to place the order and wait for a technician to show up with a Wi-Fi router, right? Not quite. Before installation, a site inspection needs to happen. That brings us to our last hurdle.

4. Installation costs play a huge role in getting dedicated business internet access at home

As laid out in the previous section, ISPs need a minimum amount of revenue to justify running DIA to a residence. Installation costs often determine how viable the project is for both homeowners and service providers. To know for sure that 1) installation is possible and 2) how much it will cost, ISPs have to arrange a site inspection.

How most phone companies handle site inspection and installation

A technician from the phone company visits the street or pole supplying your home to guarantee availability. The technician then creates installation specifications for running the DIA line to your house. But the technician doesn’t do the install. Instead, they hand the specifications to you, the homeowner, to either do the installation yourself or, more likely, hire someone to do it. These installation specs are complex, full of details like specific diameters of PVC pipe, no 90-degree bends, and cable buried underground at a specific depth. This delicate, error-prone work makes installation expensive. The best-case scenario is to spend a few hundred dollars. Worst-case scenarios can cost into the tens of thousands of dollars. The good news? You can cancel your order without penalty after the site inspection, so you’re not locked in.

How most cable companies handle site inspection and installation

Cable companies will run a dedicated business internet line all the way to your home. They’ll run a desktop survey to find their lines, create the specification for running a DIA circuit to your house, then factor the cost into your quote. So, if the installation costs $15,000, the cable company will amortize the cost over your contract. For instance, $900 per month for a 100 Mbps DIA circuit. However, if the install costs $50,000, the cable company probably won’t do it since the cost is untenable for them.

Can You Get Business Internet at Home? Yes (and we can help)

Dedicated internet access (DIA) for homes isn’t an easy service to find, price, and buy. But as the shift to remote work drives more interest in it, residential DIA shows signs of becoming more accessible. We've helped many users easily discover home DIA pricing and navigate quote negotiation, contracts, and even complex installations. In fact, you can search for residential DIA service on Lightyear now. Just click Get Started and put in your desired configuration. We’ve seen providers go from one home installation in 2019 to 60 in 2020. Try the platform to see who offers residential DIA in your area.

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