Is Business Internet a Commodity?

Is high-speed business internet always interchangeable or uniform across carriers?

Do you consider business internet to be a commodity? If we go with this common, catch-all definition for a commodity – “anything produced for market exchange” – business internet access would fall under that umbrella. Your business pays for it. Even if the WiFi is free to you, the provider is paying someone else for it. When you access the internet, you are, in one way or another, paying for the installation, configuration, and maintenance of infrastructures like cables, routers, and other equipment. Plus, to most enterprises, the internet is arguably as crucial as electricity. Could you run your business without reliable high-speed internet access?

The market exchange, the distribution of access to the internet, and the near-universal need for connectivity among enterprises strongly suggest a “yes” response to the commodity question.

The answer gets murkier, however, when you consider the more specific definition that’s pervasive in the business world. According to Investopedia, “A commodity is a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other goods of the same type. Commodities are most often used as inputs in the production of other goods or services. The quality of a given commodity may differ slightly, but it is essentially uniform across producers.

Is high-speed business internet always interchangeable or uniform across carriers? Far from it. Though it may seem like all business internet is created equal if you haven’t explored various providers, it varies quite a bit – in terms of performance, downtime, and customer service.

So our answer is this: electricity is the commodity that supports the internet service. But unlike electricity, the infrastructure to satisfy our appetite for connectivity is (sadly) not as globally pervasive yet, and high-speed business internet isn’t identical across providers – so a commodity it is not. Here are the key ways that enterprise broadband differs from provider to provider.


Business Internet Differences

Performance: If you’ve ever experienced a dip in broadband speed during peak times of the day or much lower speeds than you were promised, you know how frustrating poor-performing internet can be for a business. Depending on your industry, peak times might even correlate with high sales periods for your enterprise. Ever been to a shop or restaurant around 7 or 8 p.m. and watched the team huddle around the computer or point-of-sale (POS) system, fighting with slow connectivity? Business internet speed and performance depend on a number of factors, including the type of network – fiber vs copper, private vs shared and asymmetrical vs symmetrical, for example – and the SLAs promised in the contract.

UPN customers see the same speeds regardless of the time of day, and we operate SLA-backed 100% fiber-optic transport that’s guaranteed symmetrical (so you’ll see the same download and upload speeds), delivering the latest in internet performance to your business. UPN also offers high-speed private networks with dedicated transport, so you can rest assured you’re not sharing bandwidth with other businesses. We connect directly to leading content providers throughout our network to ensure efficient data transfer. UPN safeguards the network by proactively monitoring our internal infrastructure for DDoS attacks that either target UPN’s Core IP Network or a UPN Internet customer. The network automatically reacts by implementing rate-limits and filters to ensure the stability and performance of our UPN network.

Downtime: Many enterprise decision-makers purchasing broadband from household-name national ISPs are shocked the first time the network experiences a hiccup. At UPN, we tap into major carriers’ networks for seamless failover, in case of downtime. In most of our major markets such as Albuquerque, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Lincoln, and Kansas City, our internet service offers a multi-homed environment where UPN is connected with multiple Tier 1 providers. Thanks to the network redundancy this system affords, UPN’s clients rarely even know it when we experience a network outage.

Customer Service: This is a huge differentiator that many people overlook or downplay when comparing business internet plans. (And to note, UPN only offers service to business customers – not direct to consumers.) It goes far beyond simply enjoying your interactions with your internet provider (which is very important!) – it’s also about creating a lasting partnership you can trust (with the same people – not a revolving door of reps), receiving fair pricing, and knowing you can rely on the agreed-upon terms. More so than our network uptime, route miles, and other great stats, we’re most proud of our 98% customer retention rate. (More on that from our Director of Solution Engineering, Justin Brinker, here.)


UPN’s Business Fiber Internet

With UPN’s dedicated, 100% fiber high-speed business internet connection, companies can experience unsurpassed performance and reliability of SLA-backed service for mission-critical application and communications needs. Our enterprise clients are able to perform vital work with an infrastructure that allows everybody on the network to be connected anywhere, anytime. We’re proud to provide a critical service (though perhaps not a commodity…) to a bandwidth-starved enterprise community. See the full extent of our fiber map.

You could argue that electricity is the most crucial commodity for business – as, without it, there is no internet. UPN has worked with a model that tears away the shrink-wrap and approaches every business client in a customized way. It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition – nor is all bandwidth created equal.

For more information about UPN’s business internet plans, click here.