Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Rural Doesn’t Mean Broadband Wasteland Anymore

By: John Shepler

Running a business in a rural area or even locating in a business park outside the city limits presents a challenge that urban companies seldom have to face. That is, how to get adequate broadband service at an affordable price.

Find rural broadband now.Is What I Need Even Available?”
Years ago, you could run a decent size business with a few phone lines and electric power service. Now you can hardly serve even local customers without broadband in addition to or combined with your telephone service. The performance you must have varies with the size and nature of your operation.

Small retail and service businesses have it easiest. A traditional T1 line at 1.5 Mbps can get you by. Prices have dropped dramatically, so you may only be looking at a few hundred dollars a month even in the unwired boonies. That’s because T1 uses the same twisted pair wiring that delivers analog and ISDN PRI PBX telephone service.
T1’s 1.5 Mbps may seem pretty pokey these days, but it’s enough to handle email, credit card verification, online ordering and operation of simple web sites on remote servers. You can often double or triple this bandwidth, at double or triple the price, by bonding multiple T1 lines together.

A competing service called Ethernet over Copper uses the same infrastructure but a more advanced technology to deliver 10 or 20 Mbps on the same telco lines. It’s less expensive than T1, but doesn’t deliver the higher bandwidths over long distances. If you are on the edge of a metro area, this can be a good solution.

The gold standard of broadband is now fiber optic service. Fiber has long been available in metro areas, but rarely out in the countryside. That’s changing fast. The killer app is 5G cellular wireless. High bandwidths are needed for 5G and even 4G LTE. That means every tower must get served by fiber or point to point wireless. With all that fiber being trenched and lit, the chances of a fiber optic connection at a reasonable price has gone up dramatically.

How About Cable?
DOCSIS Cable Broadband has traditionally stopped at the city limits. However, these lines are being strung farther and farther from town to serve new subdivisions and industrial parks. If the cable runs by your property, chances are excellent that the cable company can provide you with a drop at little or no construction cost.

Cable has also gotten a new lease on life with DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 modems. It’s fairly easy and inexpensive to get 100 Mbps downloads and 1 Gbps service is becoming more and more common.

When There Are No Copper or Fiber Lines
Some areas still aren’t being served. That’s especially true of small farming communities, farmsteads and ranches and any business located on historically rural property. Your option in this case is to go wireless. If you have a small home-based business you might even get by with cellular broadband. You can buy a wireless access point with this service installed or use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot to feed your computer and tablets. The main hitch with this approach is strict data limits of 20 GB or so per month. You have to buy more capacity or have your service slowed or cut off if you exceed your carrier’s limits.

Point to Point wireless broadband provided by WISPs (Wireless Internet Service Providers) offer higher data limits and higher bandwidths than cellular. There are no national providers. You have to be in the footprint of a local or regional provider to get service.

Business satellite can now give you the higher bandwidths you desire, even up to 100 Mbps with decent data packages. All you need is power and an open view of the Southern sky. Prices are similar to T1, cable and wireless. The remaining limitation is the half-second or more of latency as the signal goes up to the bird and back down. If what you are doing is OK with that delay, it is an option that works in the remotest of locations.

Don’t assume that just because your area wasn’t built out for broadband years ago that it still isn’t. Progress is happening rapidly in this field, often helped by federal programs to expand rural broadband. Check your rural broadband options now and see what may have become available recently.

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

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

We’re Headed Toward Universal Elasticity as a Service

By: John Shepler

We’ve all suffered the frustration of visiting a web site that normally works great, only to find it is slow or completely stalled. Perhaps you are trying to finish a project at 5 PM on a Friday and your cloud service has slowed to a crawl. Maybe the video you are watching just buffers over and over, raising your blood pressure to an unacceptable level. Why doesn’t this stuff just work?

Elastic Computing and BandwidthResource Starvation
Anytime systems that normally run without hesitation get bogged down, it’s caused by some type of failure or being starved for resources. On rare instances there is a hardware failure. More likely the failure is the software gone wandering down some unpredictable path or stuck in a loop. Even more likely you are experiencing resource starvation.

You are starved of resources when you need more of something than is available at the moment. This can be compute cycles, RAM memory, disk space or bandwidth. If the problem is caused by a sudden demand for more service than usual, you might be starved for all of these.

How can this happen? Imagine a e-commerce web site that is sized to handle the usual number of shoppers, plus some margin for peak shopping times. A major TV network presents a story on a product that has become popular on social networks. All of a sudden, it seems like everybody on Earth is searching for this item and many are finding your site. Traffic? Through the roof! Sales? Not so many more. You’ve been skunked by resource starvation.

But My Services Are Scalable!
Sure they are. All you have to do is hope someone has detected the surge in activity. They notify someone else in charge, who analyzes the situation and takes action to provision more resources. In most operations this is done by changing settings on a control panel or making a phone call to the service provider. After some minutes or hours, the traffic congestion has been relieved and everybody who still wants to place an order can easily do so. But… how many buyers have given up or found another seller?

The other weakness of scalability is that you may wind up paying a premium for unneeded capacity after the surge in traffic has passed. It takes a keen eye to match resources with need to minimize the cost of your computing and network services.

Elasticity Acts Faster Than Scalability
Think of elasticity as the automation of scalability. Elastic resources are those that automatically adjust for need without human intervention. Yes, the robots have come for our jobs and, in this case, they are welcome to this maddening task.

Elastic cloud computing allows the cloud to assign you virtual servers and storage as needed. You really couldn’t do this back in the day when your own servers had to be ordered, shipped, installed in racks and connected to the rest of the infrastructure. Oh, that’s still the way it is done. It’s just invisible to you. Now the cloud company takes care of installing dozens or hundreds of physical servers at a time. The hypervisor software slices and dices them into virtual machines that can be assigned to any user at any time, faster than you can ask for them.

Another beauty of elastic computing is that resources can be deleted as fast as they are added. With the system automatically monitoring the traffic demand, this means you only have what you need at any point in time. It also means that you only pay for what you are using as you use it. A good cloud service will appear to be an infinite well of resources that you can check out and turn back as required.

Elastic Bandwidth Completes the System
It doesn’t do any good to have a supercomputer in the back room if all you’ve got is a T1 line at 1.5 Mbps to access it. What you really need to complement your elastic computing is elastic bandwidth as well. Software control and billing is making this a realistic prospect. You cloud provider may have many Tbps or Pbps of fiber bandwidth connected directly to the core of the Internet. You don’t have to pay for all of it. You can be billed by the average bandwidth that your computing resources need per hour.

Software Defined Networks now make it possible to virtualize bandwidth the way clouds virtualized servers. This capability will optimize the use of of bandwidth in the connections to your company locations. With elasticity, your lines won’t get congested nor cost your a fortune for idle capacity.

MPLS Networks with bursting capability have offered a form of this elasticity for years. You pay for a certain throughput, but are allowed to automatically increase your traffic for short periods of time.

Rapid scalability is now typical of fiber optic Internet and point to point bandwidth service. Soon, elasticity will become the norm and we’ll forget the days when you were never quite sure if you ordered enough bandwidth or way too much.

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

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Gigabit Internet Speed Is Easy to Find

By: John Shepler

It’s almost breathtaking how fast Internet bandwidth needs have mushroomed. Just yesterday 10 Mbps was considered high speed broadband. Today it’s more like 100 Mbps for even medium size offices. If your businesses is involved in video production, heavy use of cloud applications, software delivery or has lots of employees or customers, Gigabit Internet speeds are no longer a luxury. Fortunately, they’re easy to come by.

I definitely need more bandwidth - products with this theme, find here.#1 Choice: Ethernet over Fiber
The beauty of fiber is that it is future proof. The fiber in the ground today will support the bandwidths of tomorrow. 1 Gbps today. 10 Gbps next year. Perhaps 100 Gbps in the coming years.

The preferred technology is Ethernet over Fiber. This is the same Ethernet that you run now on your local area network. Most NICs (Network Interface Card) are 10/100/1000 Mbps. With CAT5E or CAT6 wiring and Gigabit switches, you are perfectly matched to access the Internet as fast as your network will run.

Ethernet over Fiber replaces SONET, an older technology that requires specific interfaces for different service levels. Ethernet over Fiber is different. Your LAN supports equipment running at different speeds. So do Ethernet Internet connections. More importantly, you can install fiber with an Gigabit Ethernet edge router and order any speed service you want. Typical service levels vary from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps. You pay less for lower speed service if you don’t need the full GigE bandwidth. When you do, upgrading is just a phone call or control panel adjustment away.

The Lower Cost Option: Cable Broadband
Cable has come a long way from its early days of low speeds and spotty performance. That’s thanks to the deployment of HFC (Hybrid Fiber Cable) systems that have fiber optic cabling for the core of the network. Only the drop to your building is still coaxial cable. The other big improvement has been the development of DOCSIS 3.0 modems good to 1 Gbps and the newer DOCSIS 3.1 modems good to 10 Gbps.

With cable broadband capable of 10 Gbps performance, what’s the incentive to install fiber? In many cases, the real incentive is to stick with cable. It offers the advantages of much lower cost, triple-play options that include broadband, phone and television, and fast installation. As long as your business is near the cable run, you can be hooked up quickly and easily with little or no installation cost.

Cable speeds rival fiber and your connection to the cable modem is standard Ethernet. Yet, the cost per month is a fraction of what you pay for equivalent fiber performance. What’s the catch?

There are some differences in service, which may or may not make any difference to your business. First, cable bandwidth is shared among users, not dedicated to your exclusive use the way fiber is. You may notice that your Internet speed varies throughout the day. Most of the heavy use is for consumer video streaming, though, and that occurs mostly in the evening.

Cable bandwidth is also asymmetrical. In other words, you get 1 Gbps download but perhaps 100 Mbps upload. That matches the needs of most Internet access, but can be a problem if you often transfer large files to other locations or upload large files to servers or cloud applications.

Fiber services may offer the option of point to point connections between business locations. Cable broadband connects you to the Internet. However, you can set up a VPN between locations connected to the Internet and achieve secure point to point connectivity… at a much lower cost than dedicated fiber connections.

Which Gigabit Option to Choose?
it should be noted that many cable companies will now offer you access to their core fiber networks as well as coaxial cable broadband. Cable fiber is the same high performance network as other Ethernet over Fiber providers. That includes bandwidth that is scalable, dedicated and symmetrical. Compare Gigabit bandwidth options and see which service most closely matches your business needs.

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

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Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Helping Your Business Achieve Hyperconnectivity

By: John Shepler

It took a generation to achieve worldwide Internet connectivity. Now, hold on. We’re going into hyperconnectivity almost immediately.

Get the support you need for the hyperconnected era.It’s Everything, Everywhere, All The Time
Hyperconnectivity is the idea that anyone and anything that can be connected will be connected on an always-available basis. We’ve made the jump from logging-in to always-on broadband for our computers and mobile device. The next step is to let the machines chatter among themselves even while we take ourselves out of the loop. You’ll no longer have to access devices. They’ll access each other and you, as needed.

It’s Already Started
We’re starting to experience some of this with connected thermostats, security cams, remote controlled lighting and so on around the home. Business use will be even more insidious. As management sees how much productivity is improved by machines and applications coordinating their actions, the pressure to get more and more connected functions is going to ramp up exponentially. As the human in the loop, your activities will be enhanced by augmented and virtual reality, artificially intelligent agents, and real-time delivery of everything you need to know. No longer will there be a gulf between office and factory, company and suppliers or business and customers. It will all be one big loop.

Are You Ready For This?
If you’ve found it a challenge to get everyone in the company online or transition business applications to the cloud, you “ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” The highest reliability connections, low latency for real time interactions, accommodation for hundreds or thousands of new interfaces, and bullet-proof security to keep out those who would do you ill is becoming a de-facto requirement.

How’s your network doing? Have you broken out in a cold sweat yet or just developed some anxiety about the challenges on their way? No need to face this alone. There is expert help that is up to speed and ready to roll right now. Take a couple of minutes to watch this:

It’s Time… NOW!
If you are seeing even the leading edge of the technology tsunami coming for your business, there is no time to waste. We have the expertise, staffing and experience to make your enterprise network hyper-ready and the tools and applications to give you an immediate productivity improvement. Don’t wait. Get the Telarus team on-board now and you’ll have the support you need to meet the challenge.

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

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fiber to the Curb and Premises

By: John Shepler

Copper is rapidly disappearing in telecommunications networks. It’s replacement, fiber optic cabling, may be run through the same conduits when copper bundles are removed, or it may be trenched nearby. The old copper lines are then left to slowly return to nature, much like obsolete two lane highway superseded by newer interstate construction.

A Wire Made of Glass Tech GiftsBut, you say, I still have copper connections. The RJ45 cable to my computer is clearly twisted pair copper wiring. So is the coaxial cable that provides broadband to the office. Just where is all that fiber you are talking about?

Mostly Fiber Outside, Mostly Copper Inside
The quiet revolution in fiber optic transmission is occurring just out of sight. The reason is simple. Standard Ethernet cabling works great in the home or office. You can easily get 1 Gbps and perhaps even 10 Gbps performance… as long as you keep the cables short. That’s 100 meters or 328 feet for CAT5e or CAT6 at 1 Gbps and CAT6A at 10 Gbps. CAT 6 can also do 10 Gbps at 180 feet or less.

In most smaller offices you never need longer runs to get to the nearest switch or router. Since most network equipment you use every day has a RJ45 10/100/1000 Mbps interface, you’ll probably never have to deal with a fiber optic connection. That is, unless you work in the IT department in a company large enough to have one, or work for one of the telecom carriers.

Just beyond your view, the interface changes from copper to fiber optic wiring. Why? Speed and distance. If you want 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet or 1,000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet, you need fiber to carry those high speed packets across campus and beyond. You may have copper patch cables at each end, but in-between it’s all fiber.

Fiber To The Curb
If you don't look inside the beast, you can pretend that the Internet is millions of miles of shiny copper wire in a web that covers the Earth. Actually, that’s how it started out. Today that notion is as dated as those obnoxious dial-up tones. The world’s long distance networks have long since been converted to fiber. Fiber is also rapidly replacing the local telco physical plant. When hurricanes and other disasters strike, the phone companies jump to install new fiber to replace plastic coated and even paper coated multi-pair bundles that might be many decades old. Both capacity and reliability are improved and higher speed services are possible.

Why, then, do telephone and broadband connections look the same as they always have? Someday they’ll be changed out, too, but right now it makes more sense to avoid the high cost of running new lines in from the street or rewiring old buildings. The trick to keeping the old twisted pair and coaxial cable able to meet today’s needs is to run the fiber to the junction box at the curb and connect to the existing copper. As you might guess, this is called Fiber To The Curb or FTTC. It’s a stop-gap measure that works well… for now.

Fiber To The Premises
The next logical step is for the service providers to just run the fiber right to your building and give you a fiber or copper connection at the demarcation point. For business bandwidth services, this is becoming the norm. Tens of thousands of cell towers are also being newly served by fiber optic lines. These replace the trusty T1 lines that work great up through 3G, but aren’t up to 4G speeds and certainly not 5G wireless.

This service is logically called Fiber To The Premises or FTTP. For residential service it is often referred to as FTTH or Fiber To The Home. There are two main flavors being deployed. One is active fiber that has all the electronics end to end. The other is a less expensive approach called passive fiber that uses passive optical splitters to connect multiple locations to one shared active fiber strand.

Is It Time to Upgrade to Fiber?
You can pretty much bet that whatever provider you use is running their core network on high speed fiber, probably at 40 Gbps or 100 Gbps. The question is whether they are connecting to you via legacy copper twisted pair leased from the telephone company or bringing fiber right to the premises. Cable companies use HFC or Hybrid Fiber Coax systems, so the less expensive coax broadband service joins their fiber plant nearby on a pole or curb termination box. Cable companies can also connect you directly to their fiber network for higher performance services.

The beauty of bringing fiber to your premises is that it helps future-proof your service. If you install, say, a Gigabit Ethernet port, you can subscribe to any line speed up to 1 Gbps. If you only need 100 Mbps or even 10 Mbps right now, you’ll have the option to turn up the speed quickly with only a phone call. Some providers are now letting their customers log into the system and upgrade their service themselves. Billing accounts for upgrades and downgrades automatically.

Not sure what service makes the most sense for your business? Discuss your needs with one of our expert consultants and see the range of bandwidth options available for your location.

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

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Note: A humorous collection of tech giffts with the theme, "A Wire Made of Glass" are available through Zazzle.