Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Fixed Wireless As Fiber Backup

By: John Shepler

You need large amounts of rock solid bandwidth to enable your business systems, including telephone, conferencing and business process software in the cloud. Normally, that says fiber optic connectivity. But what if that fiber gets cut (it happens) or just can’t be installed soon enough or the construction is just too expensive? Then what? If you happen to be located in the right areas, fixed wireless can be your best solution.

Take a look at fixed wireless microwave as a backup or substitute for fiber optic connectivity.What is Fixed Wireless?
Cell phones have brought mobility to all of us, including having both a phone and a small computer in our pockets. This is wireless mobility. Each device has a modem and radio that communicates with the nearest cell tower. As you move, the session keeps getting handed off to the next towers as you get closer to them. All of this is imperceptible to you, the user. The complexities of handling mobile signals is hidden in the cellular network.

Perhaps you’ve tethered your phone to your PC to keep working when your cable or landline Internet service was interrupted. That’s an example of fixed wireless. It’s the same as mobile wireless, but you’re not moving.

Cellular Fixed Wireless
Ideally, you’d like to tether your entire network to your phone during an outage rather than just one PC. Some phones allow this by acting as WiFI hotspots. In a small business, you may find this work-around to be just fine for short periods of time. Not being able to walk away with your phone can be a real inconvenience. Running out of minutes and getting cut off or big overage charges can be an even bigger inconvenience.

Fortunately, there are fixed cellular services designed for exactly this use. The box you receive looks something like a Wi-Fi router. It has better antennas than your phone, an Ethernet jack to feed your network, and, perhaps, built in WiFi routing. Some have provisions for mounting an antenna outside in weak signal areas.

Best of all, fixed cellular wireless services for business know that you can’t get by with a few Gigabytes a month. You can order 100 GB and more, even unlimited (within reason) usage. Services include 4G LTE and, now, 5G to give you the speed you need to run your business.

Microwave Fixed Wireless
The big brother to cellular is point to point microwave fixed wireless. This is a modern version of the old telco point to point microwave relay. You get a small dish or other microwave antenna that attaches to the side of your building or sits on the roof. It points directly at the provider’s antenna at their central location. This is a line of sight service and generally limited to metropolitan areas.

A major advantages of this type of service is that it is private and dedicated to business use. You won’t be competing with everybody else’s cell phones for bandwidth. The bandwidths can be as high as 1 Gbps or even 10 Gbps. They can also be symmetrical, unlike cellular. With many services your upload and download speeds are the same and your bandwidth is guaranteed. Usage limits? Not usually an issue.

You might even think of microwave fixed wireless as fiber optic without the fiber. Ditching the physical fiber means fewer construction headaches and delays. It is possible that you can have service installed in as little as a few days compared with weeks or months if your building isn’t already lit for fiber.

An unexpected benefit is that fixed wireless can have lower latencies than fiber services with the same bandwidth. That’s because the wireless signal is a direct beam from provider to you. Fiber systems tend to weave all over town with lots of switching gear in the path. Lower latency is critical to some businesses, especially in financial trading. It’s a boon for improving the quality of VoIP phone calls and video conferencing, and for interactive processes running in the cloud.

Cellular broadband uses the Internet and whatever latencies and congestion exist. Fixed Wireless can avoid the Internet and its limitations, or be connected to the Internet so that you can easily connect to customers and suppliers.

Why Not The Best of Both Fiber and Wireless?
Perhaps the best arrangement for your business is a combination of fiber optic service and fixed wireless service. Why both? One reason is to get service started fast with fixed wireless and then add fiber when you can get it installed.

Once you have both running, consider keeping your fixed wireless as a backup to the fiber. Fiber interruptions, often caused by the cable being cut during unrelated construction work, can take days to repair, leaving you high and dry. With automatic failover installed, your traffic will simply move to the wireless link without interruption. When the fiber comes back online, the system will switch back.

Note that fixed wireless offers a true diversity path to fiber. That means fiber and wireless are very unlikely to exhibit failures at the same time. Some businesses think they have this in place by ordering redundant fiber lines or even fiber services from two separate providers. What they don’t realize is that all the fiber serving their location runs in the same bundle or conduit and can all be taken out at the same time by one accident.

Do you need fast installation of high speed business connectivity and/or a robust backup to the fiber you already have? Consider microwave fixed wireless service for your bandwidth needs.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

From Megabit Copper to Gigabit Fiber

By: John Shepler

You know it’s time to upgrade your WAN bandwidth. There are two major forces at work to make this a necessity. First, the load on your network connections is steadily increasing. Second, legacy copper services that have worked so well for decades are being phased out by the carriers. It’s the right time to make a move to gigabit fiber.

Your path to gigabit Ethernet is here. See what is available now.What’s Driving The Need to Upgrade
Information technology is a different animal than it was in years past. If you’ve been working in technology for ages, you probably remember when computers, their peripherals, and software were all in-house. Connections to the outside were for communication between locations and to the Internet. When there weren’t that many resources to access outside, there wasn’t a need for very high bandwidth.

That’s all changed. The entire IT architecture has been turned on its head. Now, there is very little computing done in-house and a crying need for massive connectivity to the cloud where the computers, storage, and software reside. The Internet has evolved from a simple messaging system to an almost infinitely deep well of resources on all subjects. Communications via the Internet are much more demanding due to the heavy concentration of massive files and high resolution video.

Even small businesses need what used to be considered extremely high bandwidth. Medium and larger companies can’t live without the throughput of high speed fiber optic connections.

Why Copper Connections are Disappearing
Until just a few years ago, twisted pair copper cables connected to a telephone company central office were considered standard fare for both voice and data. That was before the migration away from POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) landlines. The replacement is VoIP telephony running on the same computer network that interconnects desktop computers, network storage, printers and servers. The in-house telephone switch, called the PBX, has suffered the same fate as most in-house servers. It has moved to the cloud.

The other use for these twisted pair cables was point to point and dedicated Internet connections at 1.5 Mbps. Those T1 lines have faded in popularity as speed demands exceeded their capacity long ago. The upgrade, DS3 delivered on coaxial copper cables, travelled most of the distance multiplexed on SONET fiber optic cable. Only the connection from the curb was copper.

Faced with a waning demand for copper-based telecom services that are ordered less often by businesses and are too slow to support 4G LTE and 5G cellular stations, the telephone companies that own the copper are either ripping it up for recycling or letting it corrode in the ground. It won’t be long and you’ll have to upgrade even if you don’t need the additional bandwidth.

The New Standard is Fiber Optic Ethernet WAN
The majority of telecom traffic now is Ethernet packets. Rather that convert the protocol to and from legacy telco services, Ethernet over Fiber is the new WAN standard.

Bandwidths are typically available from 10 Mbps at the low end to 10 Gbps at the high end, with 100 Gbps available in some major areas.

Like earlier copper telecom solutions, you have the option of setting up point to point private lines or dedicated Internet access. Both are supported by Ethernet over Fiber. Private lines offer dedicated bandwidth so you don’t have to compete with other companies for the capacity of the line. Dedicated Internet Access also gives you exclusive use of last mile connectivity. Of course, the Internet itself is a shared medium.

How about availability? Fiber optic lines are becoming almost ubiquitous these days. The exception is rural areas or remote business and industrial parks that aren’t served by fiber yet. Sometimes you can get near-fiber performance by cable broadband solutions that can reach 1 Gbps of shared bandwidth at bargain prices. If you are located remotely, you can often get 4G LTE and 5G wireless business solutions that many not offer the ultimate in bandwidth, but are often great solutions to replace obsolete copper lines.

Is your business running short on bandwidth or have you been notified that your copper bandwidth options are being discontinued? If so, now is the perfect time to check out prices and availability of gigabit fiber optic bandwidth for your business locations.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

You Need a Fiber Optic WAN Network

As your business ramps up, you start to feel the pinch of too small bandwidth connections to the Internet, your cloud service providers, and among your business locations. Clearly, it’s high time to add capacity before network congestion brings everyone’s work to a crawl. But, what do you order? Is it more of what you’ve got or…

Fiber Optic Ethernet WAN for you business bandwidth needs.Yesterday’s Connections Don’t Cut It Anymore
When you started business, networking mostly involved interconnecting in-house equipment with some modest bandwidth to the outside. The rise of cloud based IT services has inverted that topology. Now you have some in-house facilities, mostly PCs and printers, with all of the heavy storage and processing done remotely. You still need decent connectivity inside, but you also need robust connections to the Wide Area Networks.

What WAN connections do you have now? A bevy of T1 lines coming in on telephone cable? DS3 bandwidth with special interfaces? Perhaps you’ve upgraded to SONET fiber optic services, such as OC3, OC12 or OC48. You can layer on more of the same if they are still be offered for new installations. But, should you?

What’s Wrong With Tried and True Telecom?
All of the outside network lines just mentioned are telephone company products. For decades, they were all that was available and you were lucky to get connected at any price. That’s changed now. The old T-Carrier and SONET technologies built on time division multiplexing are rapidly being swept away by packet based technologies based on the same Ethernet standard that runs on your local area networks.

Those legacy services have some issues. They require specialized interfaces that are unique to each service level. If you want to upgrade, you’ll need a truck roll to replace at least an interface card and perhaps a complete box. The copper and fiber services aren’t compatible at all. If you have copper, say T1 lines, and want to upgrade to fiber, say OC3 SONET, you need a complete re-do. Once you get on fiber, you can upgrade to higher speeds by swapping out interfaces again, but only with major jumps in bandwidth levels.

There are two other issues you should know about. Telephone companies, which, by law own the copper telco lines, are starting to abandon these lines because demand is dwindling for such low bandwidth and the copper is aging and disintegrating. It’s become a maintenance problem and an expensive one. You may not be able to order new service or add additional lines. Eventually, the lines you have will be disconnected.

The second issue is cost. There is no great build-out of legacy services going on. That’s all been done. There is also no competition in the marketplace, especially on copper lines. With increasing maintenance costs, prices have pretty much bottomed and, in some cases, may be going up. There are much better options available on a cost per Mbps basis and they are much more scalable.

Ethernet over Fiber is the New Gold Standard
Your next bandwidth service or replacement service should be what is known as Carrier Ethernet or Ethernet over Fiber. This will give you all the bandwidth you need both now and in the future. It’s been built-out by multiple carriers, most of which are not incumbent telephone companies. So competitive is this market, that you may be shocked to see how much bandwidth you can get for your current budget.

Ethernet over Fiber or EoF WAN is directly compatible with your current Ethernet LAN. You just plug in a standard copper or fiber link to your network and you’re ready. What’s more, the bandwidth is easily scalable in small increments. The maximum speed is determined by the speed of the Ethernet Port that is installed by your service provider. If you get a Gigabit port, you can start off at 10 Mbps and then move to 50, 100, 250 or more up to 1000 Mbps any time you want. All it takes is a phone call or do it yourself on a web interface. No hardware changes needed. Need higher bandwidth? Get a 10 Gbps or 100 Gbps port installed.

There are two basic types of connections. First is dedicated Internet access. This is what gets you to the Internet, but without all the line speed variations that are inherent with shared bandwidth connections like cable, DSL cellular or satellite broadband. Pretty much every company needs a good solid Internet connection.

The other type of connection is a direct point to point dedicated line service. This gives you a more secure connection, especially if you encrypt the data. It’s also more solid, with less jitter, latency and packet loss than you’ll get through the Internet. Dedicated lines are great for linking business locations and connecting to your cloud service provider. With the right direct connection, you may not be able to perceive any performance loss even though your IT resources have moved from down the hall to across the country.

Do you need to expand your connectivity or want to get more bandwidth for less money than you are currently paying? Find out what Fiber Optic WAN Network services are available for your business locations now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Dark Fiber Gives You Control

By: John Shepler

Higher and higher bandwidths are expected in business IT infrastructure. That includes the local networks and leased lines for metro and wide area bandwidth. It’s about more than that, though. Just as important are parameters such as latency, packet loss and jitter. Security is a major concern for all network operations. Finally, the ability to make changes, create workarounds and rapidly bring resources online are important to keeping network operations running smoothly.

Find Dark Fiber for business bandwidthBig Bandwidth Means Big Pipes
The need for increasing bandwidth has resulted in a mass migration from copper wirelines to fiber optic cables. Copper may still make sense to the desktop, but outside network connections need the capacity of fiber.

Fiber leased lines are available from 10 Mbps to at least 10 Gbps, with 100 Gbps service becoming more readily available. They can be configured as point to point dedicated lines or dedicated Internet access. Many companies need some combination of the two. The Internet is essential to communicating with customers and suppliers. Direct lines to cloud service providers and between company facilities provide more consistent performance, lower latency and higher security.

Wavelengths are Like a Private Fiber Link
Fiber optic cables are said to have unlimited bandwidth. While that might seem like an exaggeration, in practice it is pretty hard to run out of bandwidth. Each cable has multiple fibers, sometimes as many as 100 in a bundle. Each of those fibers can carry multiple streams of non-interfering data through a process of wavelength division multiplexing.

There are two schemes. Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing can divide the fiber into a dozen or more laser colors called Lambdas, all traveling the same time. Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing ups that count to 80, 96 or more separate wavelengths using more sophisticated equipment.

Note that each wavelength acts like its own fiber. It is unaware of other wavelengths on the same strand. When you lease a wavelength your data is not multiplexed with anyone else’s. You have exclusive use of all the bandwidth on that wavelength, which might be as high as 10 Gbps. Need more bandwidth? Lease another wavelength. Until the fiber bundle is fully loaded, you’ll never have to run more cable.

Dark Fiber Gives You Ultimate Control
What’s better than a wavelength? Having the entire fiber to yourself. That sounds great until you think about the cost of running your own fiber. It makes total sense on your own property, but what about connections across town or across the country? Unless you are in the business of providing carrier services, you’ll find trenching your own fiber to be cost prohibitive.

There is a way to get pretty much your own fiber. Lease an unused strand from a service provider. That’s more doable than you might think. Remember that it doesn’t make sense to go to all the trouble of burying a single fiber strand when you can bury a multi strand cable or even multiple multi strand cables for not much more cost. That way, a carrier only has to lay in the fiber once and have capacity to spare for decades.

These unused strands are called “dark” fiber because there is no laser light illuminating them. It could be your job to light the fiber. The carrier will simply give you access at each end of the fiber and the rest is up to you.

Clearly this beyond the capability of smaller companies, but they are likely well served by lit fiber options already available. Larger and more sophisticated IT organizations may be able to make good use of dark fiber for research labs, medical campuses, video content creation and transport, engineering & manufacturing, and other demanding applications.

Benefits of Dark Fiber
Owning exclusive rights to use an entire fiber is the next best thing to building your own. You do need to provide the termination equipment at each end and manage those resources. That may include your own DWDM equipment to generate multiple wavelengths for all the bandwidth you can reasonably use.

Without competing customers, there is no need for multiplexers to add and drop connections along the route. The fiber serves your locations only. The lack of unnecessary equipment in the line minimizes latency. Unlike the Internet there is no need for routers every so often to direct traffic. You not only have minimal latency, there is no reason it should vary from common carrier routing decisions, and no congestion as long as you are not overloading the capacity of the fiber or individual wavelength.

Security is another big benefit of dark fiber. There is no sharing of bandwidth among customers. This is similar to the old “nailed up” copper private point to point line. You need to trust the operator of the fiber, but don’t have to worry about the other customers. Of course, encryption on top of dedicated fiber gives you the most security you’ll get in point to point transmission.

Dark Fiber Availability
As fiber is being extensively deployed for Internet, cable television, and cellular towers, dark fiber is also becoming more and more available. Competitive fiber network operators and some cable system operators have lots and lots of extra capacity installed. They are more than happy to lease out unused strands when there are dozens sitting dark.

Do your needs demand the capacity, flexibility, and security that dark fiber offers? Find out what dark fiber options are available for your business locations.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Gigabit Ethernet Replaces DS3 and T3

By: John Shepler

T3 lines and DS3 bandwidth have long been a staple of telecom service offerings. The rise of Carrier Ethernet WAN, point to point microwave for business and DOCSIS 3 cable broadband is causing these traditional telco services to fade into legacy services. Let’s have a look at what’s available for your business in the 50 to 1000 Mbps speed range.

Gigabit Ethernet replaces DS3 and T3 now.Telco’s T1 Line Upgrade
The pioneering work on digital transmission over long distances was done by Bell Labs right after WWII. Their first product was called T-Carrier and consisted of T1 and T3 services that were compatible. T1 lines could replace 24 analog phone lines with one multiplexed T1 line.

T1 was designed to run on the same twisted pair copper wires that supplied analog POTS landlines for easy deployment. T3 is an upgrade that ran on coaxial copper lines and microwave towers at 45 Mbps. It can handle 672 voice lines. The protocol that runs on T3, called DS3, can also be carried on SONET fiber optic circuits. When the Internet arrived, both T1 and DS3 were offered in clear channel versions to carry packetized data. T1 runs at 1.5 Mbps. DS3 or T3 runs at 45 Mbps.

Carrier Ethernet over Fiber Takes Over
Computer generated data far exceeds telephone traffic these days. The near ubiquitous standard is Ethernet on the LAN running the Internet Protocol or IP. With T1 or DS3, you need to do a protocol conversion at each end to go from the computer standard to the telephone standard and back again. The introduction of Carrier Ethernet keeps everything in one standard, Ethernet, from end to end.

Carrier Ethernet has been deployed in two versions. The slower version is Ethernet over Copper or EoC. This is a direct replacement for T1 lines and fractional DS3 service and runs from about 1 Mbps to 20 Mbps or so depending on the length of the circuit. The key feature is that it uses the same twisted pair wiring as T1 line or analog phone lines.

The faster version of Carrier Ethernet is Ethernet over Fiber or EoF. This is the technology that is rapidly taking over the world. EoF gives you end to end Ethernet from about 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps and even 100 Gbps in some areas. As you might expect, Ethernet over Fiber easily replaces T3 lines or DS3 bandwidth over SONET. It also offers the ability to easily upgrade to higher speeds than 45 Mbps any time you want. With a Gigabit Ethernet port, you can start off at 50 or 100 Mbps and scale up to 1,000 Mbps with just a phone call or click of a mouse online. There is no need to change out equipment. Only the speed of the line and your monthly billing will change.

The other big advantage of Carrier Ethernet, and some say the most important one, is the cost reduction compared to traditional telco services. You can get EoF service at DS3 bandwidth speeds of 50 Mbps for a fraction of what you would pay for actual DS3 over SONET. 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps and 10,000 Mbps are suddenly affordable when you upgrade to Ethernet over Fiber.

Wireless is Fiber Without the Fiber
There are situations where fiber just doesn’t work despite all its advantages. One is is rural or remote areas that haven’t been wired, perhaps not even for telephone. The other is in dense urban areas where fiber has yet to be installed. The cost of construction is astronomical in both situations but that doesn’t mean you are out of luck. Just skip the fiber or wires completely.

Point to point microwave was a staple of telephone long haul. Microwave relay towers would retransmit the phone calls every 30 miles or so. Microwave is still applicable on a smaller scale over reasonable distances. In downtown business districts a dish on the roof pointed at the provider's antenna a few blocks away can give you Gigabit level bandwidth with very little construction cost. it’s also fast to install compared with pulling cables under the street.

In more rural areas, a WISP or Wireless internet Service Provider gives similar service usually at somewhat lower bandwidth levels, but similar to DS3 or better. Customers point their antennas at the service tower which can be miles away, but in a direct line of sight.

Another popular arrangement is to take advantage of the fact that every cell tower is also transmitting Internet traffic for smartphones. 4G LTE is commonly available and can give you the performance of fractional DS3 at least on download. Many smaller businesses can get all the performance they need from 4G without any of the wiring headaches. This is especially valuable for mobile or pop-up stores and individual entrepreneurs. Now that 5G is well into deployment, cellular can easily replace DS3 and higher speeds.

One thing to be aware of with wireless services, especially cellular, is that there are usage limits to most plans. That’s because the system can handle less traffic than fiber and the bandwidth must be shared fairly among users. Even so, if you can get 300 GB per month plans and pay much less than DS3 or even a T1 line, wireless can make a lot of sense.

Cable Broadband Can Mimic Fiber
The old Cable TV networks have been vastly upgraded and are now mostly run on fiber. It’s just that last link into your building that is run with coaxial cable. The protocols have also been upgraded along with the switch from analog to digital television. DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 offer high speed performance at bargain prices. You might be surprised to know that DOCSIS 3.0 can support bandwidth up to 1 Gbps download and 200 Mbps upload. The newer DOCSIS 3.1 standard is good to 10 Gbps download and 1 to 2 Gbps upload. When DOCSIS 4.0 is deployed, that upstream capacity will increase to 6 Gbps.

Cable broadband is extremely popular with residential users and many businesses. You just can’t beat the pricing. The only limitations are that cable isn’t available in many rural areas and the bandwidth is multiplexed or shared among many users. Thus speeds can vary. Like wireless, there is a large difference between download speeds and upload speeds. Uploading is typically a tenth or less the speed of downloads. That reflects the way Internet traffic usually flows. In many cases, this may make no difference to your operation, but it you need very high upload and download speeds and dedicated bandwidth, especially for cloud services, you may need fiber optic service through cable companies or other competitive fiber network providers.

Do you still have an old DS3 or T3 contract or simply need high performance, low cost bandwidth in the 50 Mbps or above range? If so, discover what Gigabit Ethernet services are available for your business.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter