Business vs Consumer Internet Line for Small Business 

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Business and consumer internet lines can have similar speeds and bandwidth but differ in two very important areas: support and uptime. A business line has a certain level of uptime guarantee (99.999% for Packetworks services) and support is available instantly 24 hours a day.

A consumer connection does not have the same uptime and support guarantees and productivity can suffer as a result. This article will focus on comparing the two different internet service types and give business owners and IT managers a better idea of the connection types they should aim for.

Packetworks provides internet and networking services for businesses across Southern Ontario. We have a 99.999% (“five nines”) uptime guarantee on our services and seek to provide the best internet value for our customers. Contact Packetworks today.

Business Line Features

A business line will utilize a dedicated connection and network type that does not have any other clients on the same connection. This will maximize uptime and ensure that speeds remain constant and consistent for business use. Business connections in Southern Ontario typically feature at least a 99% uptime guarantee, with connections from Packetworks featuring a 99.999% uptime guarantee.

Businesses that require the internet in order to conduct essential tasks should utilize a business line. Common business tasks that rely on the internet are:

  • Email

  • Banking and payroll activity

  • Merchant machine

  • Data backups

  • Telephony solutions

  • Employee collaboration

Different businesses will have a varying list of services that they require the internet for, but many businesses rate the internet as an essential service that is equal in importance to electricity in order to operate.

95% vs 99.999% - Is There a Meaningful Difference?

One may wonder if the added uptime of 99.999% makes a meaningful difference, or if it is just marketing speech. The following chart illustrates the difference between different uptime percentages by showing how long each is down per year, month and week:

Uptime %

Downtime per Year

Downtime per Month

Downtime per Week


36.5 days

72 hours

16.8 hours


18.25 days

36 hours

8.4 hours


3.65 days

7.2 hours

1.68 hours


52.56 minutes

4.38 minutes

1.01 minutes


5.26 minutes

25.9 seconds

6.05 seconds

Packetworks has a 99.999% uptime guarantee on all connections. Consumer internet will have uptimes of around 95% for internet connectivity, but only uptimes of around 50% for full speed use (The internet is operating at peak, advertised, speed). As shown by the chart, the difference between 95% and 99.999% is over 8 hours of downtime each week.

Consumer Line Features

A consumer internet line is what families and individuals have in their home for general internet use and content consumption. Consumer lines piggyback off of existing connection already set up in a neighborhood or region and do not have their own designated line to each home.

Consumer lines are often advertised as having extremely fast speeds (30-150 Mbps), but rarely are those speeds ever realized. Internet speeds will vary based off of load from surrounding entities and by the time of day. During peak hours, the internet is often strained and will fluctuate greatly in terms of both speed and latency.

Consistent Speed and Latency

Having consistent speed and latency can be a difference maker for a business if they utilize technology the relies on the internet for real-time communications. VOIP and SIP calling solutions both rely on a low latency connection in order to maintain real-time conversation between members of a call.

A consumer line can fluctuate between having a ping of 10 milliseconds up to a few hundred milliseconds during a call that can make a call choppy or even drop. A business line will not have this problem.


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