Internet Speed thoughts - also Comcast vs Verizon vs both

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Row House Cinema

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Mar 8, 2019, 7:36:57 PM3/8/19
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Hello,

Starting up a new co-working.  Expecting a capacity of 150 users (I'm sure not all would be there at once, but its possible).  I'm curious on what the standard internet speed and connection type for that would be... in your opinion, so I'm providing solid internet.

Also, I only have a choice between Comcast or Verizon!  so much selection.  Thoughts on either, as I'm indifferent.

Finally, how many people use both as a a redundant backup... or do the LTE backup boxes work well enough during outages.

Thanks in advance.
Brian

Alex Hillman

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Mar 9, 2019, 2:50:15 PM3/9/19
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Your milage may vary a bit depending on what your members do (e.g. videographers use much more bandwidth than, say, almost anybody else!). 

My rule of thumb is to buy the best internet connection you can afford + a failover if it's possible. The two things to never skimp on are bandwidth and coffee.

That said...

Two things that aren't obvious about coworking Internet usage (and how bandwidth is just a tiny part of the equation) until you've had hundreds of people piping through a shared connection every day:

1) bandwidth is important, but latency is more important. Without getting super duper technical, latency is the speed that the network responds, which is different from how fast files download. 

MOST people spend a lot of their day clicking around the Internet, or using internet connected apps. With some rare exceptions like game developers and video editors, the files we move around in our daily work are relatively small. Video and VOiP might seem like it uses a lot of bandwidth, but overall it's quite small!

The problems happen when the latency is bad - everyone feels it because clicking to load a page, or refresh email, or live typing on Google docs etc feels like it has a lag. Our network (internal wireless + gigabit ethernet) used to have a Comcast Business connection of 50mb down/10mb and always had more than enough bandwidth for 120+ people working hard every day. And that includes streaming videos, music, etc. Normal usage, even with 100+ people on the network, rarely peaks above 30-40 megs down and normally idles well below 10mbps. 

Where things go haywire is when latency goes up. This can happen in our network because wifi coverage is interrupted, or because our internet provider is having issues, or most often because someone on the network is uploading a huge file (offsite backup like a Dropbox sync or uploading a video to YouTube) and our ISP starts to throttle latency because it thinks something is wrong. This took is FOREVER to figure out!

We since switched to a much better local provider that gives us 250 down/150 up for a fraction of the cost, and our normal network latency compared to comcast dropped by 70% (again, lower latency is better). It's a rough experience to explain to people, and they don't care if it's latency or speed they just want to work. So understanding that more speed without an improvement in latency is important. 

2) the network itself is just as important as the Internet connection.You can check out my past post on speccing out a solid, reliable Unifi network for a fraction of the price of anything else on the market. 

As far as Comcast vs Verizon, I have had nothing but horrible horrible horrible experiences with Comcast and will not ever give them a dime of my money again. Verizon isn't a saintly corporation either, but I can't say anything but good things about the FiOS service I have at my home and it would perform perfectly at Indy Hall if I could get it there (which we can't, sadly). 

-Alex

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Row House Cinema

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Mar 11, 2019, 7:28:17 PM3/11/19
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thanks so much for this info.  Hugely helpful.

AK

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Mar 21, 2019, 11:10:49 AM3/21/19
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Alex...what are your thoughts on a MESH network?  does this help with latency?  We are considering increasing our speed (currently at 25 dl / 4 up) and thought maybe we should try a mesh network ( Ubiquiti  or Google or EERO) -

Thank you

Alex Hillman

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Mar 21, 2019, 11:17:11 AM3/21/19
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Alex...what are your thoughts on a MESH network?  does this help with latency?  We are considering increasing our speed (currently at 25 dl / 4 up) and thought maybe we should try a mesh network ( Ubiquiti  or Google or EERO) -

I would always prefer hard line network to my access points over mesh if possible. For your size, it probably doesn't matter, but meshing devices is just one more thing to go wrong that is hard to diagnose whereas a hard line either works or doesn't. 

-Alex

Alejandro Moreno

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Mar 26, 2019, 11:05:21 AM3/26/19
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We use Comcast Business, we've had good luck with them the last 2 years since we opened. Though for a while we had problems but it turned out it wasn't Comcast, there was a closet in the garage downstairs that the building manager had assumed wasn't relevant to us. After troubleshooting a while and not finding the problem (speed was too low and we were paying for the 500MB speed package), the tech insisted that the manager let him see that closet. She finally relented and sure enough, there was internet cable in there that led to our office space, and the cable was skinny and flimsy. Once we replaced that cable with the nice thick stuff, we were finally getting the 500MB download that Comcast promises. That comes into a fairly large ''Business'' modem, the biggest one Comcast has, and then that is distributed throughout our space via 4 Engenius access points, which is a ''poor man's'' way of helping distribute load/demand. 

Once we get some other expenses out of the way, and membership increases, we're going to look at Meraki. They are THE deal when it comes to load balancing Wi FI demand in office spaces. For now though the 500MB download package and 4 Engenius access points suffice. Note — the 500MB speed does not carry all the way through the Engenius access points, it will drop, though the speed is still more than enough for users.

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