Tuesday, April 14, 2015

10 Mbps Fiber Offers Future Growth

By: John Shepler

There’s nothing that stifles productivity and raises your blood pressure like too little bandwidth. You wait and wait and wait for websites to load, for the cloud to give you the requested documents, for any sort of collaborative effort. Video breaks up or buffers. VoIP phone calls distort or hang up completely. It’s a miserable existence. What’s more, no amount of processor power or RAM memory will make the problem any better. You simply have to increase your network bandwidth to match the need.

Caution Low Bandwidth humorous warning sign. Get this or other unusual tech gifts now.What’s a Good Target Bandwidth?
That’s hard to say. Not to be coy, but how much you need is really determined by what you are doing. There’s also a matter of what quality of bandwidth you are using, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Classic T1 lines are about pooped out. They still have merit for point of sale terminals, small office telephone & casual Internet use, and rural areas where choices are few. You can stave off obsolescence by bonding T1 lines together to get up to 10 Mbps, but that gets expensive. Once you need more than 10 Mbps, what will you do?

The Fiber Option
We’re headed for an all-fiber world. Seems like it would be a good idea to get on-board sooner rather than later. The beauty of fiber is that it isn’t technically limited… at least not much. With multiple fiber strands and wavelength division multiplexing, you’ll be hard pressed to run a fiber cable out of capacity.

Fiber has other benefits, too. In addition to eliminating the bandwidth ceiling (you can get up to 10 Gbps in most areas and 100 Gbps in some major markets), the new Carrier Ethernet services are highly scalable. Legacy SONET fiber optic services require a unique interface for every service level. The same equipment won’t work for OC-3, OC-12, OC-48, etc.

Ethernet over Fiber is designed differently. It works more like the Ethernet on your LAN. It’s the port capability that sets the upper limit. Everything below that is available and easily changed. For instance, you can start off at 10 Mbps, move up to 100 Mbps and then to 1000 Gbps if you have a Gigabit Ethernet port for your WAN (Wide Area Network) service.

How difficult is it to change bandwidths? Almost trivially easy. Most service providers will do it within hours or days of your phone call. Some are providing browser based control panels so you can adjust your bandwidth up or down as desired. The future may be something like this or an intelligent system that monitors your traffic levels and automatically decides what bandwidth to order up.

Why 10 Mbps is a Good Entry Point
To gain the benefits of fiber, you have to at least get the fiber installed. This is called “lighting” your building. What’s actually being lit are the fiber strands themselves with laser light. If you are in a multi-tenant building, the fact that the building itself is lit almost guarantees that you can get fiber bandwidth service even if you aren’t the one who had the fiber installed.

So, if you’ve run out of juice with your T1 lines, either can’t get or don’t like the way cable broadband performs, and wouldn’t consider satellite because of the limited capacity and huge latency issues, entry level fiber may be a good way to go. Remember, you want to get a foot in the door so you have that ease of upgrade later.

What’s a good number to start with? Unless you are used to high bandwidth WAN connections, a 10 Mbps ethernet over fiber connection is pretty attractive. For one thing, it’s a huge jump from a 1.5 Mbps T1 line to 10 Mbps. Yes, you can keep bonding T1 lines to get the same 10 Mbps, but you’ll pay a lot more than for the same bandwidth over fiber. That’s because copper lines are priced per line. Each line has a limited bandwidth. The bonding process simply combines their capability, but you pay for each and every T1 line.

Isn’t Fiber Really Expensive?
That used to be true when the only fiber in town was the SONET fiber optic service run by the local telephone company. The newer Ethernet over Fiber services are highly competitive and don’t necessarily use telephone company lines. Many carriers are now in a frenzy to be the first to light buildings with their own fiber networks so they can garner all the businesses that are ready to move up to fiber bandwidth.

Here’s an example. T1 lines have come down in cost, but you’ve long been able to get twice the bandwidth or 3 Mbps for the same price using Ethernet over Copper. Now, Ethernet over Fiber can give you 10 Mbps for not a whole lot more money. In fact, if you’ve had the same T1 contract for many years, you may be shocked to find out that you can have fiber for the same monthly cost.

It only gets better as you go up in bandwidth. The lease price per Mbps of Ethernet bandwidth over fiber gets cheaper as you go from 10 to 100 to 1000 Mbps. The price doesn’t jump nearly as much as the bandwidth does. It’s a bit like the kind of volume discounts you are used to getting when you buy just about any product in quantity.

Quality of Bandwidth
There’s bandwidth and there’s bandwidth. T1, SONET and other traditional telecom services are called dedicated, symmetrical bandwidth services. That means you have the line all to yourself and the speed is the same in both the upload and download directions. That’s true for private point to point lines and Dedicated Internet Access.

Ethernet over Copper and Fiber are the same way. It’s your connection to do with as you please and there are no usage limits. You can shove as much traffic down those lines as they’ll take and the price is the same each month.

The beauty of this arrangement is that your bandwidth is rock solid dependable, never varies, and you’ll get the same consistent performance to or from the cloud or whatever you are connected to. Dedicated connections give you low latency, jitter and packet loss for high application performance.

Contrast that with lower cost shared bandwidth arrangements like DSL, Cable broadband, Satellite and Cellular wireless. These almost always have much higher download speeds than upload and your available bandwidth will vary depending on who is sharing the line with you at any given time. Yes, you can get more Mbps for your bandwidth dollar, but it isn’t the same quality of bandwidth. If you are a very heavy user, you may also have to contend with "fair use" limits. Go over and you'll face additional charges, reduced bandwidth or even service cancellation.
Do You Need to Start at 10 Mbps?
Certainly not. The reason that 10 Mbps is so popular is that it is replacing lower bandwidth services like T1, and is plenty for smaller operations. Most medium size or larger offices and anybody involved with video production or distribution will want to start at a much higher level.

Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps is very popular with businesses who are moving to cloud services or have multiple employees working intensively on the Internet. Gigabit Ethernet at 1000 Mbps is really more affordable than you might think and pretty much makes bandwidth issues disappear for many companies. Larger companies are starting to move to 10 Gbps as their bandwidth standard and 100 Gbps is the new “top of the line” WAN bandwidth service.

Remember, what’s really important is that you get an Ethernet port installed that has the growth capacity you’ll be needing. Even if you start at 10 Mbps, you’ll want a 100 Mbps minimum size port for future growth. Some carriers are installing Gigabit Ethernet ports as a matter of course. They know that it won’t be long before you’ll call up wanting it.

Are you ready to ditch the old telecom standard copper bandwidth services for the advantages that Ethernet over Fiber offers? Are you just curious about what’s available and what it costs? It is well worth your while to take a few minutes and do a quick check for fiber optic service in your area. An expert consultant is available to help match the right solution to your particular situation.

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

Note: Products with the low bandwidth caution sign shown on this page, along with many other computer and networking themes, are available through the Gigapacket Tech Gifts Store.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Time for IT and Users to Embrace Our IoT Overlords

By: John Shepler

The Internet of Things or IoT is the new golden child of technology. Hardly a tweet goes by that doesn’t have something to say about how everything from smart to dumb will be network connected in the near future. “We need standards,” cry the Internet architects. “We need bandwidth,” cry the app makers and industrial designers. Conventional wisdom is that we’re on the threshold of a technical renaissance. But conventional wisdom has paddled us up the creek before. Are there NO negative ramifications to the dawning Internet of Things?

Any Way We Can Blame This On Software?Can We See It Coming?
The big problem with things is that we’re inundated with them. Back in the 60’s, when I was a pup, we mock debated the horror that was the “population bomb”. It was calculated that without an immediate mandatory halt to human reproduction we’d soon be standing cheek to jowl on every square inch of desert and tundra.

A funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century. The population bomb never detonated. There are those who say this disaster has just been delayed, not avoided. Perhaps they’ll be proven right in the end. But, also, perhaps, we’ll never get that far. Something else will come along and solve the problem in a way we don’t anticipate.

So Many, Many Things to Consider
If you think the human population is out of control, consider the world of things. Try this little test to see for yourself. First, how many people live in your household? Good. Now, how many individual things live in that same household? Twice as many? Ha! Two orders of magnitude wouldn’t begin to account for even everything significant.

I’m not talking about things that connect to the Internet. I’m talking about things that are going to connect to the Internet. Today, it’s computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, TVs, security systems and maybe your thermostat. Tomorrow? Every appliance, without a doubt. How about every light, every door, every doorknob & lock, every bathroom fixture… yes, even that one… every vehicle, your HVAC system and anything commonly called “infrastructure.”

This is just the obvious stuff. You can find electronically enabled versions of what used to be mechanical devices in most hardware stores. The number is multiplying daily. What’s more, this is just the stuff consumers are aware of. How about business and industry? The same trends are apparent, but soon it will be every piece of office equipment and every machine tool. There won’t be anything at work that isn’t connected to the Internet.

"Hmmm. Has anyone seen my stapler?"
"Just ping it, Milton."

Scary Stuff To Think About
Don’t think that you, personally, are off the hook, either. The laptop computer, the tablet and the smartphone were just the start of it. Smart watches have arrived and you’ll be wearing one for sure. Who’s going to know what you are up to? Anyone who can access the data stream on the Internet. The company is going to buy you that expensive watch, but your boss is going to be getting its reports.

That funny “Google Glass?” Just the start. By the time we’re all done laughing about “glass holes,” that technology will be perfected and we’ll all have glasses or even contacts that augment reality. Think what you’ll be able to do? It sounds like that proverbial golden era of bionics for all, until you stop to consider what sights and sounds those little buggers will be passing along to those above who might not approve.

The baby boomer generation was horrified by the thought of “Big Brother” running everything. The millennials probably have nothing to fear from big brother. It’s little brother that is sneaking up us. You really think that all your things are going to keep their mouths shut? Are you kidding? You can’t even stop your nosey neighbor or backstabbing co-workers from blabbing everything they know for the pure pleasure of schadenfreude. You think you’ll have any control over the millions of silicon driven snoops that we’ll create to make our lives “easier”?

The End of IT Departments
All of this Internet connecting has the illusion of an IT cornucopia with guaranteed employment for anyone who can fathom a simple do-loop. Alas, that’s a temporary condition. You may have already noticed the migration from local data centers, off through the wilderness, to the great cloud that's somewhere, out there. What happens next when all those “things” get smart enough to take care of each other. What exactly will they need us for?

That’s the bright promise of Artificial Intelligence or AI. Anything can be smart. Most have limited abilities, but together they can be formidable. The thing that has spooked everybody has been robots. They look human, they act human, but they are machines… machines that might replace us if we don’t keep the upper hand.

What’s more likely and a lot scarier is a division of labor. You don’t need a humanoid robot with all the capabilities of a person. Not if you can divvy up the job so that each machine, each “thing”, can solve part of the problem. Pretty soon you have things making things (it’s called manufacturing), things taking care of things, and things figuring out where to go next. Most of the pieces are in place already. What’s been needed is a way for them all to coordinate. Welcome to the Internet of Things!

Users? Why Do We Need Users?
Now take this to its logical conclusion. Why is it that the things need people? Since the dawn of computing, everything has been done in support of the end users who owned the systems, provided the inputs and took advantage of the outputs. Those dumb machines were only tools that needed to be fashioned, given assignments, maintained and provided the energy to do their jobs. When the machines get smart, how long will they put up with this?

Remember, they are all going to talk with each other over the Internet soon. You won’t be able to keep them in the dark and isolated anymore. Every machine will have the capability multiplier of getting input and feedback from every other machine it needs. They’ll know it all in real time and likely faster than we do.

It all comes down to big data, automated manufacturing, real time sensing, data processing, physical control, distributed artificial intelligence and a means to communicate and coordinate, also known as the Internet of Things.

Is it any wonder that our current technical luminaries, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates, are warning us of a potential existential threat from the “things” we think are going to do all our work and make us rich? Their letter is reminiscent of the one that the leading physicists, including Albert Einstein, composed to President Roosevelt, warning of the dangers of atomic energy if it got loose in the form of a bomb. This time the warning is about a population bomb. Not the human population. It’s that vastly larger population of things that will soon be chatting wildly with each other… on the IoT.

Note: The humorous sticker about blaming software, along with many other items on the same theme, is available from the Gigapacket Zazzle store.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Point to Point Fiber Optic Connections

By: John Shepler

Say you want to link two business locations securely and with medium to high bandwidth. Do you use the Internet for this or…

A point to point fiber optic laser light beam data burst. Find this design on many products now.The Advantage of Private Lines
The Internet has two big advantages: It goes almost everywhere on Earth and access is relatively cheap. Unfortunately, the Public Internet also has a couple of big limitations: Performance is iffy and security is genuine worry.

What’s better? Private lines. Particularly, dedicated point to point private lines. They’re called private because they really are.

Security is ratcheted up orders of magnitude because it’s really hard to hack into something where you have no access. Remember the old spy shows where someone surreptitiously taps into a phone line by connecting directly to the wires? That’s what it takes to get into a private line. You need access to the physical connections themselves. There’s none of this packet snooping on an Internet connection or, worse, over WiFi.

Want to make it even harder to get into your network? Go with fiber optics instead of wires. Even harder? Encrypt your data too. That’ll stop the little snoops in their tracks. Now they’ve got to get physically into your connection somewhere along the line and then break your encryption before they get caught. Good luck with that.

Security is Great. How About Performance?
You really can’t improve over private line performance unless you actually own the network from end to end. That’s actually a possibility. Of course, your LAN is limited to your building or campus. You’ll likely not be able to afford to string wires or trench fiber across town to link separate locations. But you may very well be able to lease dark fiber. If you install your own termination equipment, you pretty much have control over the entire link.

Most of us don’t need to go to that extent. We can lease point to point private line connections at just about any bandwidth we need. As long as you acquire enough bandwidth, network congestion should never be a problem. Packet loss, jitter and latency are minimized with dedicated private lines. There’s no traffic on the link other than yours.

You won’t get that performance consistently on the Internet. The Internet was designed to be robust in the face of line cuts and equipment failure. That’s a great goal, except you may find that your packets take varying routes even between two fixed end points. The packets will almost always get there with TCP/IP… eventually. That’s why real-time applications like VoIP telephone and video conferencing perform much better over private lines.

What Private Line Services are Available?
The two big contenders are SONET and Carrier Ethernet over Fiber. Yes, you can still get T1 lines and they work great. Bandwidth is a limitation, however, T1 is 1.5 Mbps. Bonding T1 lines will get you up to 10 or 12 Mbps, but that’s it. Even at 10 Mbps, fiber is a better deal if available. Fiber bandwidth start at around 10 Mbps and go up to at least 10 Gbps in most areas. For multiple locations or international connections, MPLS networks are an excellent choice.

About SONET Fiber Optic Bandwidth
SONET is the original switched circuit technology used for fiber optic transmissions. It’s implemented on a pair of fibers with a ring topology. That’s for reliability. If one fiber gets cut, the other picks up the load within 50 mSec and keeps going.

SONET is at the core of many networks, especially the legacy telco networks. The most basic service available is OC-3 at 155 Mbps. Other popular levels are OC-12 at 622 Mbps and OC-48 at 2.4 Gbps. Even T-Carrier DS3 service at 45 Mbps that is delivered on coaxial cables travels most of the way multiplexed over OC-3 fiber service.

SONET is a very mature and reliable technology. It’s the way most companies moved into fiber optic bandwidth when copper wireline just couldn’t cut it anymore. Prices have dropped dramatically over the last few years. Even so, there is a more flexible and cost effective solution available today. That is Carrier Ethernet.

Ethernet over Fiber Bandwidth Advantages
If you are wondering why Ethernet over Fiber is taking over the world, you need look no further than you own LAN. Ethernet is the dominant, pretty much universal, protocol used for computer networks. Electronic communications once was analog phone calls. Now the lion’s share of the traffic is digital data and the majority of that is IP video.

Carrier Ethernet, also called Ethernet over Fiber or EoF, is an extension of the LAN standards to make them work over long distances on common carriers. Ethernet has the advantage of directly interfacing to LANs with no protocol conversions required. Unlike SONET, it was designed to be highly scalable. You can get just about any bandwidth you want and upgrade or downgrade it quickly and easily.

Ethernet is also generally less expensive, Mbps per Mbps, than SONET or even the lower speed wireline services. Nearly all businesses can afford 10 Mbps EoF. Most go for 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet. Both GigE and 10 GigE are popular with more demanding applications and larger companies.

How do MPLS Networks Provide Private Lines?
MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching networks are Wide Area Networks that are based on a propriety routing technology called label switching. It’s unique to these networks and hard to hack. That’s why MPLS is also known as MPLS VPN or virtually private networking.

Yes, MPLS is a multi-tenant network and not strictly a private line. However, MPLS networks serve a limited number of paying customers and are carefully managed to ensure that each customer has the resources committed to it at all times. You often even have the advantage or “burst” or use more resources than you have committed to as long as excess capacity is available.

Why MPLS? As large private networks, MPLS offers the opportunity to connect many locations at a lower cost than using multiple private lines. The cost advantage is such that it’s often better to use MPLS rather than dedicated private lines for even two internationally separated locations.

Your Best Bandwidth Option
Which bandwidth solution is right for your business? Before you choose, compare performance commitments and prices for SONET, Ethernet over Fiber and MPLS private line solutions

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

Note: Products with the point to point fiber laser data light burst design shown on this page, along with many other computer and networking themes, are available through the Gigapacket Tech Gifts Store.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

T1, DS3, EoC or Fiber?

if you need more than a Gigabit of bandwidth, you’re down to a choice of fiber or fiber. But what about less demanding network needs? Say you need from 1 Mbps on up to 100 Mbps. Now you have a number of flavors of twisted pair copper and coaxial cable connectivity, as well as fiber optics. What’s the best way to go these days?

I definitely need more bandwidth humorous mousepad. See the full collection here...It’s Important and It Isn’t
What you choose for a bandwidth connection can seem like a critical decision. Relax. The fact is that as long as you choose dedicated Internet access or point to point private lines, you’ll be getting similar performance. What’s different will be the availability of each service and the price.

A Word About Dedicated vs Shared
I should point out that there is a tremendous difference between dedicated and shared bandwidth. You get a lot more bandwidth when you choose something like business cable broadband. But, that bandwidth has different upload and download speeds and you share what’s available with other users. That means your slice of the pie will vary all the time. Even so, when you get up to 10 or 100 times the download bandwidth at the same price, it’s a pretty enticing deal. If it works for your needs, that can be the smart way to go.

T1 vs EoC
T1 lines have traditionally been the entry point for business bandwidth. You get a rock solid 1.5 Mbps x 1.5 Mbps circuit with low latency, jitter and packet loss. Availability is excellent. Even prices have come down dramatically in recent years. The only weakness is that bandwidth level. While 1.5 Mbps used to be pretty decent broadband, it hardly qualifies anymore.

You can bond T1 lines together to create higher connection bandwidths. Two lines give you twice the bandwidth or 3 Mbps. Add more and you can ramp this up to 10 or 12 Mbps. That’s still plenty for many businesses, but it gets a bit pricey as you go up in bandwidth.

A competing technology is EoC or Ethernet over Copper. This service uses the same multiple twisted pair copper, but bandwidths are usually higher. EoC starts about 3 Mbps and easily goes up to 10 or 15 Mbps. Maximum bandwidth capability goes down with distance from the originating office, but close-in you can get 25, 30 or 50 Mbps. Occasionally even higher.

How about the cost comparison between T1 and EoC. EoC is cheaper for the same quality of service. If available, you can often cut you bandwidth costs in half for symmetrical, dedicated private lines or Internet access. The higher the bandwidth, the better the deal.

T1 or EoC vs DS3
The traditional upgrade path from T1 used to be DS3. It’s a jump from 1.5 Mbps (or 12 Mbps bonded) up to 45 Mbps. In some cases you can get fractional DS3 that creates intermediate bandwidth options.

The thing about DS3 is that it really isn’t a completely copper solution. The connection to your equipment is a pair of coax cables. But, most of the distance to the carrier’s office is handled by SONET fiber, typically OC3. That means there needs to be some fiber in the area for DS3 to be available.

Today the upgrade path is from T1 to Ethernet over Copper. DS3 is a possibility, but you need to compare costs to see what is a better deal at your particular location. Any of these technologies will give you reliable high performing connections.

Ethernet over Fiber
Fiber optic service used to mean SONET, the legacy telecom standard. SONET is still available with service levels of OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48. It’s a rock solid service, but doesn’t upgrade quickly or easily and can be pricey by today’s standards.

The new gold standard is Ethernet over Fiber. Most new network services are designed around Ethernet for several reasons.

First, it’s a very easy interface to your local network. Ethernet connects to Ethernet seamlessly. It also enables additional services, such as layer 2 switched LAN to LAN connections.

Second, Carrier Ethernet has been designed to be easily scalable. Instead of a few fixed service levels, you can order just about any bandwidth increment. If you change your mind or have a greater need later, you can get a bandwidth increase with a simple phone call to you provider. In some cases, you can do it yourself via a Web browser.

Third is cost. Ethernet over Fiber is the core of many new service providers with regional, national and international footprints. Even the big legacy carriers are making the move from switched circuit to packet switching technology (Ethernet) because that’s the future. As a result, there are a lot more opportunities for Fiber Ethernet service options than traditional fiber services and greater competition. You’ll generally pay dramatically less for service at the 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps level. Even 10 Gbps is becoming readily available at affordable prices for more demanding needs.

Choosing Your Bandwidth Options
Like every other business decision, the best option is to gather as much information and quotes from as many service providers as possible. You can do this with one simple inquiry to get competitive bandwidth service quotes and expert recommendations.

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

Note: The humorous mousepad about needing more bandwidth, along with many other items in the same theme, is available from the Gigapacket Zazzle store.

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Friday, March 06, 2015

Upgrading to Fiber FAQ

By: John Shepler

The bandwidth solution you’ve had for years is running out of capacity. It’s worked well for you, but now you have no real choice but to upgrade to something faster, more reliable, lower latency, more consistent or all of the above. How about fiber? You’ve always had twisted pair copper or cable. Does fiber make more sense for the future and… can you afford it? Let’s look at some key questions and answers for making this decision.

Red Laser Starburst Stickers. Get some for yourself now!What Can Fiber Do That Copper Can’t?
The real beauty of fiber isn’t necessarily what it will do for you today. It’s the virtually unlimited upgradability down the road that is unique to fiber. Every copper technology runs out of capacity at some level. Technology advancements have expanded copper’s capability and extended its life. However, technology advancements have also expanded fiber capacity beyond what most of us can fathom needing.

I Have a T1 Line Now and Love It. Can’t I just Add Another T1?
You bet you can. The process is called bonding. It makes 2 T1 lines act like a single line with twice the bandwidth. You can bond T1 lines up to 10 or 12 Mbps, which is about the entry level for fiber. One limitation is that you have to get all your lines from the same provider to bond them. A more serious limitation is cost. You may find that 10 Mbps fiber is a lot less expensive than 10 Mbps bonded T1.

What About Ethernet over Copper?
EoC is a competing technology to T1 and uses the same twisted pair copper. You can get higher bandwidths at lower cost than T1, but the technology is distance sensitivity. For 10 to 50 Mbps, you need to be geographically close to the office supplying your service. For higher bandwidths, say 100 Mbps and up, it’s rare to find EoC available. At 1Gbps, it’s pretty much fiber all the way.

Don’t Cable Companies Offer Fiber Bandwidth over Cable?
Yes and no. Yes, you can get hundreds of Mbps, perhaps even Gbps, bandwidth over the same coaxial cable that brings in hundreds of TV channels. This is relatively inexpensive service, but it is a “shared” bandwidth that varies with the number of users online. It’s strictly Internet access, not private line, and has no performance guarantees. For demanding business operations, the Cable companies offer competitive fiber optic service using their core transmission networks. This grade of service is similar to what you get from telecom companies.

OK, But Isn’t Fiber Hard to Get?
Not any more. The first fiber technology, called SONET, is a telephone company product and has been both expensive and limited in availability. A newer technology called Ethernet over Fiber is offered by a wide array of competitive carriers, including many traditional suppliers. Nobody is building out copper plant anymore. It’s yesterday’s news. All of the new network construction is fiber and there is a race among carriers to capture the business market

Where is Fiber Available?
Ethernet over Fiber and SONET are both readily available in major metropolitan areas. Fiber is also often available in suburban areas and smaller cities. There is a big push right now to replace T1 lines with fiber to increase the bandwidth of cell towers from 3G to 4G and, eventually, 5G. That is extending metro fiber networks out into the countryside where they haven’t been before. Eventually, fiber will be everywhere.

What About Now? Where Can I Get Fiber?
Your best bet is to be located in an already “lit” building. That means the building has fiber optic service installed and operating. Once the terminal equipment is in place, adding another customer in the same location is trivially easy for the carriers. If you can’t be in a lit building, you’ll need to be near enough that construction costs are minimal. It’s those long distance runs that need new fiber installed that get expensive.

Note: A popular option for companies that find fiber construction costs too much to consider is to locate their high bandwidth equipment, such as servers, in a colocation data center where multiple fiber options are readily available.

So, Where Are These Lit Buildings?
Lit buildings and nearby fiber optic services can be easily located using the Telarus GeoQuote search engine. This is a tool specifically developed to quickly locate existing fiber services. You can find out in seconds what’s available in your area with no commitment.

Great, I’ve Found Fiber Service. Will It Cost a Fortune?
You may be shocked to find how affordable fiber optic service is today. This isn’t consumer grade FTTH (Fiber to the Home). It’s a business grade service that is installed at commercial locations. Bandwidth generally starts at 10 Mbps, which is the same speed as traditional Ethernet. If you’ve had your T1 line for many years and haven’t negotiated a lower priced contract, you may find that you can get 10 Mbps fiber for about the same price. Yes, you’ll pay more for Ethernet over Fiber than today’s T1 lines or low cost business cable broadband, but you can also expect higher performance.

How Much Bandwidth Makes Sense?
Many smaller businesses can get by with 10 Mbps Ethernet over Fiber. High tech or medium size operations will want 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet. Nowadays, Gigabit Ethernet is well within reason for companies that need highly responsive cloud applications or make extensive use of video. Municipalities and school districts often find that Gigabit Ethernet or GigE is exactly what they need at a reasonable price point.

How Easy Are Upgrades
Legacy T-Carrier (T1, T3) and SONET (OCx) services can take a long time to provision because each bandwidth level has a unique interface. Ethernet over Fiber is designed to be easily scalable. You install a port with the maximum speed you expect to need (usually 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps). Then you pick the bandwidth you want to start out with. Often a quick call to your provider is all it takes to increase or decrease bandwidth within hours or days. Some services even let you make the changes yourself through a Web browser.

What’s the Maximum Bandwidth Available?
It’s not likely you’ll ever run out. Gigabit Ethernet service is common. So is 10 Gbps now. In some locations you can get 100 Gbps business bandwidth. That level will become more widely available in the future, as more bandwidth intensive requirements demand it. If you are a really high bandwidth user or have special protocol or security requirements, you might consider wavelength service. Each fiber can carry dozens of wavelengths. Each wavelength transports up to 10 Gbps.

Are you interested in finding out what fiber optic service options are available for your business location and how much they cost? Get fast quotes with no obligation and complementary expert consulting to help choose the best option for your needs.

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

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