Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Is There Business Fiber Optic Internet Near Me?

By: John Shepler

Are you still struggling with DSL or some other Internet service that is burdened by low speeds, network congestion, high latency, packet loss or all of these? It’s a frustration, isn’t it? What’s more, you are probably losing more money every month than you would spend to upgrade to high performance fiber optic broadband service. The big question: “Is there business fiber optic Internet near me?”

Get Fiber Optic Internet Busieness Service Results Times Have Changed
When you first moved up from dial-up ISDN, or X.25 connectivity to broadband, options were probably few. There was a time when DSL was state of the art. Even ADSL shared on a standard phone line offered a huge advance in line speed over what else what available.

If you could afford them, T1 lines were a lot more stable and reliable, although speed was capped at 1.5 Mbps… still plenty in the early days of e-commerce.

Many businesses opted for satellite as a way to connect retail locations to the home office. High latency and weather outages were just something to be dealt with.

But, this is ancient history. The whole nature of business operations has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. The Internet isn’t just for email or looking up information anymore. It’s IS your connection to all-things in the cloud and around the world. There’s no good reason to just get by with whatever connectivity you’ve had. That is, not when fiber optic Internet might be right next door and a fraction of the cost it was when you last took a look.

Fiber Has Been Sneaking Up on You
It’s a fact that conduits full of fiber optic cables have been quietly being trenched into both urban and rural right of ways all across the country. You don’t see headlines about this anymore, because it isn’t breaking news that somebody just put a fiber cable in the ground like it used to be. Fiber is now considered vital infrastructure and is being routinely installed, just like gas pipes and power lines. You almost have to be a little careful where you plant a shovel in the ground these days. You might just chop a fiber cable in two…. and that is one expensive situation to fix.

Who’s Burying Fiber Cables Nearby?
The telephone company is the traditional installer of telecom infrastructure including copper and fiber lines. In fact local telcos pretty much own all of the twisted pair copper in the ground and on the poles. Fiber… not so much.

While telephone companies are, indeed, in a mad dash to upgrade their physical plants to meet the nearly insatiable bandwidth demands of 4G and soon to be 5G wireless, cloud services and video distribution, there are other major players too.

You might think of cable companies as married to coax copper lines. That’s what they install in your building, after all. What you don’t see is that those coax lines terminate to fiber lines not far away. Cable fiber forms the backbone of their networks. It’s only recently that the major cable companies have offered business users fiber connections to their network. Get business cable fiber and you’ll have almost unlimited bandwidth, low latency and bandwidth congestion, all at a reasonable price.

Independent network companies are the other big source of fiber optic infrastructure. These companies have built out their own regional and national fiber networks and may well completely bypass both the telephone and cable companies to hook you up directly.

So, How Do I Get Fiber?
You can get out there and do your own research, but you may miss some of the best fiber providers. They don’t necessarily have a local office or advertising. Your best shot to get the most options at the best competitive pricing is to go through a bandwidth broker. This is a company that has relationships with dozens of service providers and the service maps to know exactly what is available and how close it is to your location. You might even be surprised to learn that the building next door is already lit for fiber broadband and it is no trouble at all to get you a connection quickly.

Want to find out right now where fiber optic Internet services are relative to your business (not residential) address? Take a minute or so to enter your address and get a map and list of fiber optic Ethernet broadband near you. Then use the handy inquiry form to describe just what you are looking for and how you’ll use it to get pricing and install times for the best service options.

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



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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fiber Internet Availability and Lower Prices

By: John Shepler

It’s high time that most businesses make the move from wireline to fiber optic Internet service. Easy to say, but just how available is fiber these days and can I afford it? You’d be surprised how often the answer is YES.

It's easy to move on up to higher bandwidth with fiber optic Internet serviceWhat’s New With Fiber?
A decade ago, fiber optic bandwidth was only for large companies with big, big budgets. It was provided mostly by the incumbent telephone companies over SONET services such as OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48. IF you were located near enough to a fiber run to even qualify, the monthly bill was enough to make your eyes pop out.

Oh, that’s changed dramatically over the last few years. Now the most popular fiber services are Ethernet and the prices are not that dramatically higher than what you used to pay for a T1 or T3 line… and you get a lot more bandwidth. Entry level is now typically 10 Mbps and goes up to 10 Gbps, with 100 Gbps available in some areas. Need more than that? Really?

More Providers Mean More Availability, Better Deals
One major change is in who is providing fiber Internet service now. Yes, the big name telcos are still in the game with classic SONET service. But they’ve also built out the capability for Ethernet over Fiber and lowered prices dramatically. The better pricing comes from technology advances, but mostly from more competition.

Who’s the competition? It’s independent carriers that have built their own regional and national all-fiber networks. All that twisted pair copper in the ground belongs to the local telephone company. But fiber is a different game. Many providers have their own POPs (Points of Presence) that do not go through the telephone central offices. They don’t have to negotiate to lease the last mile connections. They simply install the runs themselves.

What’s So Great About Ethernet?
Are you kidding? Just what protocol is your LAN running? Today’s networks are all about data packets, not telephone calls. In fact, most of the traffic is actually digitized video. The standard interface is an Ethernet port, so why not keep everything in the Ethernet protocol from end to end?

Carrier Ethernet, as it is called, has other advantages. The newer Ethernet over Fiber networks are designed to be a lot more scalable. The old SONET system is set up with discrete levels of bandwidth and each one needs its own unique interface. Ethernet is Ethernet. Only the speed varies, so the interface remains the same. There will be a hardware change if you want to switch from RJ-45 copper to fiber optic for 10 Gbps and 100 Gbps. Otherwise, if your service provider installs a Gigabit Ethernet port you can change the bandwidth of your service from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps at will. Not only can you upgrade quicker than ever, you only pay for the bandwidth you are using, not the full speed the line is capable of.

What About Installation?
This can be a bugaboo out in the boonies where there just isn’t much network infrastructure yet. In most cities, there is plenty of fiber in the ground and easy to access nearby. If your building is already “lit” with fiber installed and operating, you can get service quickly and easily without external construction costs. Otherwise, it depends. If the POP is close enough and you, or you and other some other tenants of the building, want enough service, the carrier might just eat the construction cost themselves. However, you may be asked to kick in some, so you’ll need to weigh that as part of the decision on how valuable fiber broadband is to your business.

I should note that some of the most aggressive fiber optic providers now are the cable companies. You think of them for television and coaxial cable broadband (DOCSIS). Cable broadband service is very inexpensive because it is shared among many users with the performance variations you’d expect. Behind the scenes, cable companies run their own fiber optic networks. Most of your town is probably lit for fiber other than the last segment of coax to your building. The cable companies can also make that a fiber run and connect you to their fiber optic network with dedicated symmetrical Internet access just like the telephone company and other providers.

Pricing and Availability
If you are a larger organization or your business is heavily dependent on applications in the cloud, you NEED fiber optic Internet service. You may be surprised by how much bandwidth you can get today at reasonable prices. Want to find out? Let’s check out fiber optic service availability and pricing for your business location.

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



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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Internet and Ethernet, The Perfect Broadband Match

By John Shepler

Broadband Internet connections come in many flavors. These include DSL, 3G & 4G cellular, PTP microwave wireless, cable DOCSIS, two-way satellite, T1 lines, DS3 bandwidth, SONET fiber optic, and both Ethernet over Copper and Ethernet over Fiber. Each of these has cost and performance advantages and disadvantages. One technology, however, offers the best match for most business applications. It’s the combination of Internet and Ethernet.

Check out Ethernet Internet serviceWhy Ethernet?
What makes Ethernet so attractive is the fact that it has almost completely taken over wired networks large and small. Do you have a LAN? What protocol are you running? Unless it’s something specialized for storage or industrial control, the answer is almost certainly Ethernet.

Being dominant has it’s advantages. From a technical standpoint, dominance means that nearly every piece of network equipment comes with Ethernet connectors built-in. In most cases, these are 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 jacks. At higher speeds, 10 GigE and higher for sure, fiber optic connectors will be included.

It’s also not just that Ethernet standards permeate every network such that you have a hard time building one to some other protocol. How much do those alternative networks cost? The dominance of Ethernet has led to economics of scale. Ethernet is now the low cost solution by far. It’s also the solution that is sourced everywhere. You have no trouble picking up cable, connectors, switches, routers, and everything that plays on a network.

The One Laggard… The WAN
Local Area Networks are firmly ensconced with Ethernet technology. Outside the plant, however, it’s not so clear-cut. Wide Area Networks evolved from different standards pioneered by the telephone companies and were not originally intended for computers. Telephone networks were invented first and they were all analog, both wired and wireless. Then, starting mid-20th century, the T1 digital standard was introduced for multiplexing phone lines and long distance transmission. T1 expanded into T3/DS3 for higher speed, followed by fiber optic standards based on the same TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) protocol.

Since the phone companies pretty much owned all telecommunications networks, Ethernet packets had to learn to ride on what was available. That meant protocol conversion from Ethernet to T1, and so on. This is still the case for traditional telecom networks, although that’s changing fast.

Carrier Ethernet Moves to the Front
The old collision domains are long gone for the most part. Networks now are switched Ethernet. It turns out that the switched Ethernet protocol are quite compatible with long distance networks with a few additions to the standard for operations and maintenance. Those standards have been created and go by the name of Carrier Ethernet.

As you might suspect, Carrier Ethernet is merely an extension of LAN Ethernet. There really is no protocol-conversion speed bump traversing from one to the other. You plug your network into the carrier’s premises equipment and your packets travel seamlessly for hundreds or thousands of miles.

Ethernet and the Internet
The Internet was designed as a computer to computer network from the get-go. When we talk about IP networks, the IP means Internet Protocol. When we talk about Ethernet protocol, we are generally referring to IP and perhaps the file transfer standard, TCP/IP.

When the Internet started, there were only the telephone company networks available, so the Internet began running on legacy telco standards, particularly SONET fiber optic. That’s changing now. More and more networks are Ethernet at their core. Most newer networking providers design their networks as IP from the start and don’t go depend on handoffs to the telephone company central offices.

Either way, as long as you have Ethernet to your premises, you can ignore what’s going on at the core of the network.

Ethernet’s Big Advantages
Carrier Ethernet services come in a wide variety of speeds, but they all stick to the same Ethernet standard. You simply specify the maximum speed of the port that is installed at your location. That’s generally 1 Gbps these days, although you can also opt for 10 Gbps and, in some cases, 100 Gbps. The port sets the maximum, not the minimum, broadband speed you can order. In fact, many companies start at 10 or 100 Mbps and then upgrade to Gigabit Ethernet or beyond when they need to. That means they only pay for the bandwidth they need.

Ethernet services also tend to be less expensive than traditional telco services for the same bandwidth. It’s fairly common to get 3 Mbps for the same or less cost than a single 1.5 Mbps T1 line. You might even get 10 Mbps for the budget you originally set for T1 Internet service.

That last mile connection to the Internet via dedicate Ethernet Internet access means that your bandwidth is symmetrical, or the same in the upload and download directions. It is also dedicated to your use 100% of the time. With other services, such as cable or cellular broadband, the bandwidth is shared among customers. That makes it cheaper, but also means that your share will vary depending on how many others are using the service at the same time.

Ordering Ethernet Internet Service
The best place to get your business broadband service is from a bandwidth broker, like Telarus, who has relationships with many carriers. You’ll likely have multiple options to choose from. The two flavors you’ll most likely encounter are Ethernet over Copper for lower speed options and Ethernet over Fiber for 50 Mbps and up. Fiber is highly desirable if your building is already lit or construction costs are low. Otherwise, you can almost always get some type of copper based delivery.

Interested in finding out what options you have and what they cost? Run a quick search for fiber optic Ethernet service here and see what pops up.

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



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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

SD-WAN is Your Super LAN

By: John Shepler

Are you caught in the great cloud migration? You can almost hear the giant sucking sound of racks and servers being vacuumed up and sent packing to remote data centers. OK, that’s a little dramatic. Even so, the trend of moving more and more telecom and IT functions from in-house to cloud providers is clear. The problem is how to reconnect over vast distances as efficiently as you could with a few hundred feet of Cat6 cable.

SD-WAN is your ladder to the cloudThe New Internet is SO Much Bigger
The Internet we became comfortable with starting in the mid 90’s is an electronic text messaging system and distributed library of text and images, accessible from anywhere. That has been expanded, of course, to include video content and e-commerce. Even with 20 years of improvements, the traditional Internet experience hasn’t changed that much. You still access what you want through an email client or Web browser. It’s the next morphing of the Internet that makes it so much more comprehensive. This is the expansion of Internet functions to include remote applications and their associated databases, and unified communications in place of the venerable office phone.

The Cloud is a Huge Data Center… But You Can’t See It
There’s really nothing magical or even spooky about “the cloud”. It’s just a metaphor for an enormous data center well beyond your line of sight. Inside the cloud are probably servers, storage drives, routers, switches and miles of cable similar to what you used to have. It’s just the scale that is so jaw dropping. The cost savings that is driving this change of IT operations is due to the multi-tenant nature of clouds. You and a hundred or a thousand of your best friends and total strangers are sharing the same facilities and divvying up the costs.

Where the Internet Goes Horribly Wrong
What we’ll call the legacy Internet is a network of incrementally increasing speed. It mirrors the evolution of the PC. How much have we shelled out over the years to get higher and higher MHz processors, then more and more cores, Kilobytes… Megabytes… and now Gigabytes of RAM, and similar storage capacity that is now in the Terabytes? Similarly, Internet access has gone from a few Kbps dial-up to X.25 connections to DSL, T1 lines, DS3, Cable Broadband, SONET Fiber Optics and now Gigabit Ethernet, 10 GigE and even 100 GigE. You may need some or all of this capacity to support your growing functions in the cloud, but can you afford it?

The problem with your traditional Internet access is that it evolved in parallel with the traditional Internet services. What’s happened with this cloud paradigm is that there has been a step-change in functionality without a corresponding step-change in connectivity. If you try and move your phones to hosted PBX and your applications to Software as a Service over the same old Internet connection, you can find yourself with an office that hardly functions at all. Voice communications are choppy and even dropped. Video tears up and stops. Your apps still work, but it seems to take forever to get a response from the system. Worst case, you could rue the day you ever tried to save a buck with all this new technology.

Can You Put Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again?
It IS possible to get back to the time where everything worked seamlessly and the systems were invisible to everyone using them. Employees want appliances to do their jobs, not finicky tech that may or may give the same result twice in a row. For that to happen, you need to make what’s going on in the cloud act like it’s located right now the hall and not thousands of miles away. What that takes is more appropriate connectivity.

The Internet is a two-edged sword. It’s attractiveness comes from being able to connect anywhere to anywhere, anytime, at dirt-cheap prices compared to private telecom lines and networks. The downside is that it is a public resource where everybody and everything is moving around in one big swarm. You can get clogs where it all moves at a snail’s pace. Some of the information just mysteriously disappears. How you are getting from point A to point B is a mystery and the routing changes by the minute for no discernible reason. That’s OK if you are just looking something up in Wikipedia or buying some parts from a wholesaler. The system was designed to work accurately as long as you can be a little flexible on how fast things run. It’s real time functions like telephone, video conferencing and interactive apps that can’t take the variability in performance without choking.

This is why a lot of the bigger companies have gone to direct cloud access using private point to point connections like Fast Carrier Ethernet or GigE fiber. These lines provide the closest you can get to what you had on your local network. Traditional Internet access is handled by a separate connection that is a lot less expensive for uses that are a lot less demanding.

SD-WAN To The Rescue
A new approach to handling the Internet has appeared in the last few years to improve the performance of broadband connections so they can work with the new cloud applications but not break the bank. It’s a clever mash-up of connectivity that takes advantage of the fact that no two connections over the Internet are likely to experience the same problems at exactly the same time. One broadband service may vary all over the place with speed, latency, jitter and packet loss. Combine several diverse connections and an electronic traffic cop and you’ll have one much, much better service. The cost of two or three cheap wireline, wireless, Cable or satellite services can be a LOT less expensive than a single dedicated line service, but give you nearly the same experience.

What’s happening in the Software Defined Wide Area Network, as it’s called, is that each path through the Internet is monitored constantly as to how it is performing. When the next packet enters the network, the system decides right there and then which path to use. The next packet in line may go the same way, or it might get routed on a different connection if that one is better at that particular instant. There’s a lot of decision making going on in this SD-WAN, but it is invisible to you. You’ve got one connection from your local network, just like you did before.

Are you dissatisfied with using the Internet to support your business, but can’t cope with the eye-popping cost of a dedicated fiber line? Perhaps an SD-WAN approach could give you the performance you really need at a fraction of the cost. Get pricing and learn more about how SD-WAN can make the cloud work so much better.

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



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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Data Caps: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

By: John Shepler

If you are a moderate or heavy online user, you have probably bumped up against data caps at some point. Just what's the story behind these seemingly arbitrary usage limits and how do you work around them?

Get a real data cap you can wear from Zazzle!OK, What IS a Data Cap?
A data cap is nothing more than a limit to the amount of data you can transfer through a communications channel over some period of time. While providers could set limits per hour or day, data caps are almost always defined now as so many MB or GB of usage per month. Your allocation is reset at the beginning of each month or 30 day period. You draw down your allocation over the time period as you surf the web, transfer photos, videos or data files, or backup your computer to the cloud. If you run out of data before you run out of month, there are consequences.

Why Caps Are Imposed
Data caps, especially tight ones, tend to be imposed on channels where capacity is limited. There are so many users and they each would like to have the link to themselves. If there isn't enough bandwidth to go around, the capacity that is available has to be rationed among the pool of users. This can be done by apportioning the bandwidth in Mbps among the pool of users. The other option is to let each user have the max bandwidth they are paying for but limit how much they can use the channel. That keeps heavy users from "hogging" the resources 24/7 so that lighter users never get much in the way of access.

Where do you find these data caps? Wireless services have had them from the get-go. Satellite is really another form of wireless and has similar usage limits. Wireline and fiber optic services have much more capacity than wireless channels, so the data caps are set much higher. While you might be limited to 20 GB per month on a LTE cellular wireless plan, that limit is more like 500 GB on a cable broadband plan. Only the heaviest Internet users will likely hit the cable usage limit so most people think there really is no limit.

It's important to note that data caps are really there to police fair usage of a limited resource that is shared among many users. All consumer broadband services and their equivalents sold to businesses are shared bandwidth services. The service provider buys an unlimited usage telecommunications line and then divvies it up to serve its paying customers. Each customer is assigned a bandwidth limit of "up to" so many Mbps and a usage limit of so many MB or GB per month. This arrangement keeps the most customers happy most of the time.

What Happens If You Go Over the Limit?
There are various ways of enforcing fair use of an Internet channel. Cellular plans started out setting a fixed usage limit and then automatically charging for every MB or GB you went over the limit. The danger of a plan like this is that you may not know how much you've exceeded your allocation until you get an astronomical bill. Most providers will give you the courtesy of a notification when you approach or exceed your limit to avoid the sticker shock.

A more draconian method of dealing with overages is to simply cut off service once the limit is reached. At that point you have to manually contact the provider and buy some extra capacity to get through the month or cease usage.

Neither of these usage limit methods goes over well with broadband customers. A kinder, gentler arrangement is to forget about cutting off service, but limit your access speed once you hit the limit. You might get throttled back to 10 percent or so of normal service bandwidth until your account resets at the start of the next billing period. This is unpleasant, but at least you can always get online to some extent.

What About Unlimited Usage Plans?
Check the fine print on your contract. You're likely to find something that specifies a "fair usage" limitation. Sometime they don't specify a hard limit but say that the provider has the right to impose fair usage restrictions. In fact, you may have all the capacity you want... at least for awhile. The fair usage clause tends to be imposed if you are someone who is using the service far and beyond what the bulk of other users are doing, or if the provider lands a lot of customers and doesn't have the ability anymore to give them all they want.

Services like satellite and cellular wireless have definite limitations due to the number of radio channels they are licensed to use and the carrying capacity of the particular technology they are using. Higher speed doesn't automatically get you higher data caps. If you aren't careful, that higher bandwidth will simply allow you to use up your allocation quicker.

Is There Any Way Around Data Caps?
You might not know this, but there are dedicated private lines and Internet connections that don't have any data limitations at all. These are the professional grade copper and fiber lines that the service providers themselves order and partition to sell to you and a hundred or a thousand other customers. Businesses, but not residential customers usually, can also order these telecom services and have all the capacity to themselves.

Typical line services are T1 at 1.5 Mbps, the classic standard, T3 or DS3 at 45 Mbps, OC3 SONET at 155 Mbps, Ethernet over Copper at 10 to 50 Mbps, and Ethernet over Fiber at 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps. These are called "dedicated" line services because all of the resources are dedicated to YOUR business. That means you get 100% of the line speed all the time. It also means that you get all of the line capacity. You can load up a 100 Mbps Ethernet line to full capacity for the entire month and not pay a penny extra. Your monthly lease cost is fixed.

How About Costs?
Well, that's the rub. You will pay more for a dedicated line service than you will for a shared bandwidth service, as you'd expect. Even so, there's little value is paying a low ball price for a service that doesn't give you the capacity you need. If you wind up paying overages every month, it might make a lot more sense to simply pay up for a line that doesn't have overages. You can then forget about having to watch your usage all the time or limit the activities of your employees.

When Does Dedicated Line Service Make Sense?
If your application naturally taxes the capacity of a communications line, such as a service or content provider or a company that has critical business applications in the cloud, you may be happier with dedicated line services beyond the unlimited usage. Dedicated lines have constant rather than varying bandwidth, plus low latency, jitter and packet loss.

What type of bandwidth service is best for your company and your applications? Check dedicated and shared bandwidth service options and get free consulting help now to help you sort through the options available for your business location.

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



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