Cable operators can make their Internet services seem like an ideal choice for any business. But cable Internet services can fall short of meeting many business networking needs. To make sure you’re choosing the right Internet service for your business, ask your cable provider three important questions.

1. Will the actual service speed be enough for our business?

Cable customers share bandwidth. The actual speed cable delivers at any moment depends on the current traffic load based on how much bandwidth is used by businesses nearby. During peak usage hours, you could experience noticeably slower performance for your applications. Check the cable provider’s fine print. It likely says that service speeds will only be “up to” the promised bandwidth. Will your people be as productive working with a sometimes-fast Internet service?

2. Do you guarantee service availability and quality?

First, let’s consider availability. Cable networks were built to deliver residential TV service—something that’s relatively painless to live without if there’s a service disruption. For a business, though, a network outage can result in lost revenue, lower productivity, and reduced customer satisfaction. Conversely, access providers that serve businesses typically promise 99.99% uptime or greater over T1 or Ethernet.

Second, access services also vary in terms of quality of service. Cable service is prone to latency issues, which equate to performance issues for applications such as voice calls and video streaming. That’s because cable providers do not support Class of Service (CoS), which means voice calls and video streams are given the same priority as any other user data on the shared cable service. A true business-class service comes with SLAs that cover the quality of service including performance factors such as packet delivery rates, round-trip delay, and installation timeframe. Providers of business-class services often back those promises with built-in financial penalties if the actual performance does not meet the levels promised. In most cases, cable providers do not offer a “best-effort” SLA, if they even offer service level agreements at all. Consider whether you can entrust your connection with customers and your business continuity to a service that may not measure up if it’s available at all.

3. Will network security be a DIY project?

With a cable service, you’ll need to implement and maintain your own data security tools. This is a demanding task, and many SMBs don’t have the in-house skills or budget to implement and maintain a rock-solid security strategy, risking customer trust, financial loss, or worse.

Consider Business-Class Alternatives to Cable

A cable provider’s answers to these three questions may surprise and disappoint you. Fortunately, other high-speed Internet access services — including T1 and Business Ethernet—offer performance, reliability, and security that are truly business class.

Fusion offers a wealth of business-class Internet access options at varying speeds and price points, which means you’ll find a solution that truly is ideal for your business.

In July of this year, we released a truly business-class alternative to cable: our asymmetrical Business Ethernet service. While similar to cable by delivering low-cost, asymmetrical bandwidth, Fusion’s new Ethernet services offer several key business-class advantages over cable.

Unlike cable, asymmetrical Ethernet offers dedicated versus shared bandwidth and is built on a business-class platform engineered for Quality of Service (QoS) to support performance-critical applications like voice and video. It’s part of Fusion’s nationwide, business-class IP network infrastructure. And it’s just one of our many business-ready Internet access services that include a variety of technologies and speeds at affordable price points—all with business-class service level agreements.

Fusion’s asymmetrical Business Ethernet service is a superior alternative to cable for businesses with locations or remote users that have greater downstream than upstream bandwidth demands. It provides low-cost connectivity options to meet bandwidth needs without overspending. And, it is delivered over an infrastructure that is built to meet the highly demanding needs of businesses.

Before you make a decision about Internet access, learn more about choosing the right service for your business in our new Look Beyond Cable white paper (PDF).