Thursday, March 08, 2018

Swap Your Old T1 Line For Fiber

By: John Shepler

Your faithful T1 line has provided constant reliable service for years, perhaps decades. Now it’s getting a little long in the tooth. The 1.5 Mbps T1 offered amazing bandwidth at the dawn of the Internet era. Today it’s just plain sluggish. You know you need an upgrade, but how much is that going to cost? Would you be shocked to know that you might trade up for the same money? It’s true!

Laser Fiber Optic Data Burst. Find products with this design here!Why You Need to Make a Change
Let’s face it. You’ve run out of bandwidth. T1 still works well for small retail stores and other applications for POS credit card verification, email, small text files and very casual web browsing. Cloud services, video streaming, remote backups and large file transfers will crawl if they even work acceptably.

More of the Same Won’t Help
There’s nothing wrong with the line. It just doesn’t have enough bandwidth. You can bond a second T1 line or even a third to double or triple bandwidth, but you’ll also be doubling or tripling your costs. Unless you are in a remote location without other options, there is a better approach.

Fiber is the New Copper
Truth be told, the cost of T1 lines and most other telecom services have come down steadily over the years. If you are happy with your T1, you might be able to get the same service for half the cost you once paid.

Even better, the cost of fiber optic lines has plummeted over the same period. If you checked into fiber when you started your business and found it either wasn’t available or cost a small fortune, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Deregulation and the demand for higher and higher data speeds has resulted in a fiber building boom. The field is highly competitive and carriers are rushing to “light” buildings with their lines before someone else becomes established.

What this means for you is that fiber optic service is now commonly available. The latest offers are Carrier Ethernet which is also called Ethernet over Fiber. This technology is directly compatible with nearly all local area networks and replaces the older, more expensive SONET fiber service. SONET is the one you remember as costing a fortune.

Fiber for the Price of T1
Technology marches on. It’s been true for several years that you can upgrade your T1 line to a new technology called Ethernet over Copper and get at least twice the bandwidth for the same cost using the same twisted pair telco lines that supply your T1 service. Today, you can get several times the bandwidth using Ethernet over Copper. Same cost.

How about fiber? The latest competitive quotes I’m seeing offer entry level 10 Mbps x 10 Mbps fiber optic bandwidth for roughly the cost of a new T1 line in select areas. It is highly likely that you could get this level of fiber service for the same price as a T1 contract you’ve had for a few years or more.

Fiber For the Future
The nice thing about Ethernet over Fiber is that it is future proof. If your provider installs a 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps port, you can upgrade to those speeds any time, but only buy the speed you need right now. You may find the cost of Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps or Gigabit Ethernet at 1000 Mbps really quite affordable and well worth it for the productivity improvement.

Are you frustrated by the inability of your T1 line or business DSL to keep up with your online needs? Now would be a great time to see what you can get in the way of a fiber optic bandwidth connection. You may be amazed by what is available today.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Business Internet Service For Everyone

By: John Shepler

Unlike consumer Internet access, business Internet service has the reputation of being prohibitively expensive and sometimes hard to get, especially in rural areas. Much of that reputation goes back to a time when the incumbent telephone companies were the only provider available. Your choices were, indeed, limited and pricing could make your eyes bug out. Today’s deregulated environment has matured to the point where any business that needs and wants an Internet connection can get one… and at prices that won’t bust the budget.

Find your best small business Internet service options now.Best Options for SOHO, Small Office, Home Office
The smallest businesses are the sole proprietors. Often, these are one person consultancies, remote workers, "gig" workers or web designers who work from home offices. When at the client, they’re carrying a laptop or tablet, plus a smartphone. Budgets are tight, so they want to minimize the cost of Internet access… just as long as it gets the job done.

The lowest cost option for bootstrap operations is residential cable broadband at the home office and 4G LTE cellular on the road. You can pair your tablet and laptop with your smartphone where WiFi is not available. It doesn’t get cheaper than this. Note: Contact your local Cable company for residential broadband.

If you have special requirements such as static IP addresses, any type of server or symmetrical bandwidth, you'll be needing to look at Internet services designed for commercial operations.

Professional Offices
When your business needs a commercial office, you’re probably supporting more than one person. Insurance sales agents, physicians, and any business that wants walk-in clients fits this category. You won’t be able to get residential broadband at a commercial address, but you can get basically the same service branded as “business broadband.” Cable is still an excellent option, with bandwidths up to 100 Mbps common and more than adequate to support a small team. You may even set up a guest WiFi network for clients or bundle television service for waiting rooms.

Higher Tech Offices
Businesses that are tech oriented support such niceties as in-house servers, call centers, and mission critical cloud applications. If you do as much or more uploading as downloading or run a server, cable broadband with its shared bandwidth may be too limiting. Better choices include dedicated Internet access provisioned on Ethernet over Copper at 10 to 50 Mbps or Ethernet over Fiber at 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps. Fiber gives you more options, but isn’t always available, even with construction costs added. Costs are at least several times higher than cable, but performance is more robust for sensitive applications like VoIP telephony and cloud access.

Most restaurants and bars find the business cable bundles of Internet, television and telephone compelling. It’s a package that is more than adequate and well priced. Special circumstances involve pop-up retail stores that show up just in time for holidays or are located at special events. Wireless 4G is a good fit here. This service works like a smartphone but is built into a special access point that includes a high performance antenna to ensure a strong signal. You can plug in a wired network or WiFi router depending on your needs.

Out In The Boonies
Rural businesses, including retail, agribusiness, machine shops, farms and ranches, gas stations, and so on have needs like their city counterparts, but no wires or fiber nearby. Wireless 4G may work if you can live with the usage limits, which are similar to phone services. If not, high speed satellite can be a better option. Bandwidths up to 100 Mbps are readily available with 1 Gbps coming. Location is unimportant as long as you can point the dish at the bird in the Southern sky with a clear view. The newer satellites have a lot more capacity, meaning that you can get much higher usage limits that fit the needs of many businesses. Pricing is similar to cable and lower speed fiber.

Is Anyone Still Using T1?
Because it was designed to work using the same cable as analog telephone service, you can still get T1 just about anywhere you can get a landline phone. The bandwidth is only 1.5 Mbps, but it is rock solid and reliable. T1 works for applications like credit card verification, email, and light web browsing. Performance is similar to 3G cellular. Prices on T1 lines have fallen so much in recent years that this legacy service is still a good choice in some circumstances.

More Options Than You Think
Are you a small business owner or or an IT consultant serving small clients? You may be surprised at the variety of Business Internet Service Options available now at the locations you need.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Thursday, January 25, 2018

DOCSIS 3.1 Makes Cable Act Like Fiber

By: John Shepler

Cable broadband, once thought to be a low-end networking option, has been quietly getting a major technological overhaul that makes it competitive with fiber optic bandwidth for many business applications. Companies that once wouldn’t consider cable for more than a backup connection now find the combination of high performance and low cost too compelling to ignore. Let’s take a look at what’s happened behind the scenes and what options cable offers now and in the near future.

Accelerate your Internet speed with DOCSIS cable broadband.

Magic #1: The HFC Cable Plant
When cable started out as cable television, it was little more than a set of really tall antennas feeding tuners and distribution amps at the “head end” to create an equivalent to what you would get off the air…if you could get such good reception. The all-analog collection of signals got boosted and distributed all over town, but what came out the connector on your TV was very much a more potent version of OTA (Over The Air) Television.

Time passes and the handful of OTA channels were augmented by dozens and dozens of non-broadcast channels delivered via satellite to that same head end. These “cable channels” quickly ate up all the capacity of the big coaxial cables that fed the little coax cables that fed the TVs. Cable companies launched rebuilding programs to increase capacity… but not by doing more of the same. Instead, they strung new fiber optic bundles and then connected their existing delivery cables to the new fiber optic trunk lines. This combination is called HFC or Hybrid Fiber-Coax.

The HFC system, combined with all-digital transmission creates a huge increase in capacity to accommodate a hundred or more TV channels with extras that can be used to deliver Internet broadband over the same cable. Note that the cable that connects to your TV or modem looks the same as the old analog cable. It is. But, it only needs to run a short distance before it hooks up with the enormous capacity fiber optic network. You get the best of both worlds… high capacity fiber to the curb plus inexpensive passive coaxial cable for termination of the service in the home or business.

Magic #2: DOCSIS Broadband
DOCSIS is a cable broadband standard that stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. It was created specifically for cable companies to be able to also deliver Internet. To do that, DOCSIS signals fit into low frequency spectrum not used for TV signals and spare standard television channels on the cable.

The first version, DOCSIS 1.0 was released about the same time as the Internet was taking off, 1997, followed by version 1.1 in 1999. A faster version 2.0 came out in 2001. That’s the one most of us cut our broadband teeth on, after finally running out of patience with dial-up telephone Internet. A few years ago you probably upgraded to a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, which brings the system up to today’s standards.

DOCSIS 3.0 makes cable a serious contender for business broadband service. It supports the latest Internet Protocol version 6 (IPV6) and has a downstream (download) capacity of 1 Gbps with an upstream (upload) capacity of 100 Mbps. In practice, may users run something like 25 to 75 Mbps down and 5 to 7 Mbps up.

Magic #3 DOCSIS 3.1 Thinks It’s Fiber
The newest technical upgrade to HFC systems is called DOCSIS 3.1. It sounds like an incremental change, but the performance jump is enormous. DOCSIS 3.1 offers downstream speeds of 10 Gbps max with upstream of 1 to 2 Gbps max. Cable bandwidth is called asymmetrical because the download speeds are typically 10x the upload speeds. A further enhancement, not yet deployed, is Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 that will offer 10 Gbps upload and 10 Gbps download. That’s pretty much the high end of what you’ll get with fiber or by leasing a fiber optic wavelength… at a fraction of the cost.

The Appeal of High Speed Cable Broadband
Cable broadband is the most compelling Internet access for any business that can get it. You do need to be in a location with cable already running down the street, but you stand a much better chance of having cable available than fiber. It’s mostly out in rural areas that neither fiber or cable are available and high speed satellite becomes the service of choice.

The big appeal of cable is how much bandwidth you get for the money. You’ll easily pay 5x to 10x as much for SONET or Ethernet fiber optic services. In some cases, that extra expense is worth it. Cable bandwidth is shared among the pool of users, while higher priced telecom services have dedicated bandwidth for your use only. SONET and Ethernet over Fiber services are symmetrical and come with service level agreements that guarantee a certain level of performance and availability at all times.

If your business is running a server farm in-house or distributing large software packages or video streams, you’ll need a high speed dedicated service. But, if your business uses cloud services, collocated hosting, or has simple needs for web browsing and email, cable broadband may have all the capacity you can use and at bargain rates. You should at least give it consideration before you sign an expensive lease. Our expert consultants can help you make the best decision based on the particular needs of your business. Compare DOCSIS cable with other copper, fiber and satellite bandwidth options available for your business location.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Filling Coverage Gaps With High Quality Business Satellite

By: John Shepler

Businesses located in major metro areas really have it made when it comes to voice and data network connections. Multiple service providers are often anxious to vie for your business. What if you are located even a little bit beyond the reach of fiber, cable and wireless? Are you stuck with POTS landlines and maybe T1 at best? Not anymore.

Your Options are UP
Stop looking in the ground or on the utility poles. You should be looking at the clear sky for your telephone and broadband service. Satellite service is well entrenched for both broadcast TV delivery and small business point of purchase sales. Now, one satellite service has really raised the bar on what they can offer to business users in the way of primary or redundant backup connectivity.

High Bandwidth, VoIP Telephone, FaceTime
Two-way satellite service has a reputation for low bandwidth, low data caps, high latency and iffy service. That’s the old paradigm. Viasat has brought satellite up to a standard that can truly be called “business grade.” Telarus co-founder Patrick Oborn recently visited the Viasat campus for a demo. Pay close attention to the quality and usability of the VoIP telephone and FaceTime calls.

Has this changed your option of how well satellite could work for your business?

Plenty of Bandwidth, More Coming
T1 and fractional T1 bandwidths were good enough when all you needed to do was run credit card purchases and exchange Email. Today’s business is data heavy, video rich and primarily located in the cloud. You need significantly higher bandwidth, robust service, and support for interactive services, including telephone and video conferencing.

You should be looking at ViaSat. Their current satellites blanket the USA mainland and Hawaii, with some coverage in Alaska. The West Coast and the eastern half of the country can get 15/4 Mbps service with persistent IP addresses and unlimited data plans. You’ll be able to implement VoIP telephone, high speed file transfer, email, web browsing, streaming HD video and point of sale. A lower speed 5/1 Mbps redundancy service is available for most of West or if you just need independent backup of your existing copper or wire lines.

Here’s something really exciting! The advanced Viasat-2 satellite was launched in June and will be turned up in early 2018 with a throughput capacity of 300 Gbps. You’ll be able to get download speeds up to 100 Mbps. That’s as good as fiber and just about anywhere you want it in the lower 48 states, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central Americas and even the air routes to Europe. The Viasat-3 satellites launching in the next couple of years will feature downloads up to 1,000 Mbps.

Have you been discounting business satellite service because of their historically low-end performance? It’s definitely time to take another look… at Viasat via Telarus. Get your competitive copper, fiber and business satellite options now.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Net Neutrality: It’s Much More Important Than It Should Be

By: John Shepler

The Internet has been my life for the last 20 years or so. Oh, it’s been around longer than that. I only got on when they released it to the public commercially in the mid-90’s. Back then it was all dial-up modems and make-your-own websites. One ad that ran at the time sticks vividly in my mind. It said something like “What’s different on the Internet about IBM and a kid with a science fair site about ducks?” The answer: “Nothing.”

On the Internet, the World is Flat
What didn’t soak in to many of us when we started communicating over computer networks was the inherent democracy, the equality of it all. Distance disappears. At the speed of light, the printer in the next room and the one on the other side of the world are equally close. You can locate team members anywhere and they forget they aren’t all in one big building… co-located, but just too far to walk over for a visit. Video conferencing takes care of that need for face-to-face.

The Internet is based on this idea of one big network that anyone can join anywhere in the world and be electronically in the same room as anyone else. I’ve gotten comfortable on Facebook with a circle of friends who collaborate on projects, but also share our personal lives. It wouldn’t be much different if we all worked in the same building or hung out at the same coffee shop. We share our joys and sorrows as if we were neighbors.

Bless the Level Playing Field
I got my feet wet online with Prodigy, then AOL, then Netscape over a local ISP. I built my first website using Adobe Pagemill and a floppy disk with some graphics that I bought at an office supply store. I wanted a place to showcase magazine-type articles that I was writing so I could also display affiliate banners to generate income to pay for the Internet connection. It had a tilde in the URL that looked a little weird on a business card, but getting a real domain name was pricey back then.

Yeah, I had a duck site. My wife and I still call amateur looking websites “duck sites”, after that commercial I mentioned earlier. The honest truth was and still is, as of this writing, that getting to my duck site was just as easy as getting to the IBM corporate site or Amazon, or the White House or anyplace else on the Web. The Internet is flat. It is level. It is democratic. It is egalitarian. The DOD that funded the genesis of the Internet, called ARPANET, built it with the best of American principles… they designed it to be free. That freedom is called neutrality: Net Neutrality.

Power to the People
Let me just say this first. I am a capitalist and proud of it. Capitalism has been very, very good to me. Better for some than others, I understand. But for most of us in what’s called the American Middle Class, we’ve grown up and aged with the opportunity to make something of ourselves by selling our skills to employers and building our own businesses. The Internet has added a whole whole new dimension of virtual business opportunities that cost little or nothing to enter, with rewards based more on sweat equity than the need for heavy debt to get started. The capitalistic opportunity of the Web has been more of a job creator, in the sense of people creating their own jobs, than any of the actual “jobs” programs that are being touted.

Having said that, I must admit that I’m horrified by what’s being promoted as capitalism these days. There seems to be a strong move afoot to return to the “Gilded Age” of the post Civil War era when the famed “robber barons” of industry and the railroad trusts lived like kings and most people lived like paupers. The game of Monopoly was actually invented as a cautionary tale to demonstrate what happens when there are no checks and balances in society. Players may start out on an equal footing, but in a few or more than a few hours, one person has everything and everyone else is flat broke. In real life, we don’t even start out equally advantaged.

Does It Have To Be All or Nothing?
This brings us back to net neutrality. For years, I was on the fence about whether to maintain all Internet traffic perfectly equal or allow some prioritization. A lot of VoIP phone calls on the internet sound like crap. It’s because real time packets of audio signals are highly sensitive to latency, jitter and packet loss. The least bit of congestion in the network turns a clear call into a distorted mess. There are ways to improve this, such as running your own voice network or having a dedicated access line to the core of the Internet. Not as good or easy, though, as if there were protected channels just for voice over the net.

Forget it. We don’t live in a world run by volunteer Internet engineers whose morals are driven by ensuring excellence and justice for all users. What we’re faced with now is dominance by large corporate entities that, despite expression of high minded intentions, will be driven by ruthless competition and demanding shareholders to maximize returns, if not immediately, then a quarter or two down the road.

Without any constraints at all, the era of duck sites will be over and only those with the big bucks will have unfettered worldwide visibility. It could be like a scene from those depression era films: “Nice web site you got there. Be a shame if nobody could get to it.”

Protect Your Freedom or Lose It
I’m not normally given to scare mongering, but I’m very much concerned that we’re looking at the end of the bootstrapping entrepreneur and even the end of unfettered freedom to explore and utilize the wealth of diverse resources available around the world. The farmers market, the arts and crafts festival, the country roads, the public bulletin board in the hardware store and the political stump in the town square are all about to be replaced by the toll bridge and the parking meter. Is that what we want?

Here’s what you need to do before it is too late. Voice your opposition to losing net neutrality and with it your personal freedom to post anything you want and go anywhere you want to go without having to pay extra fees or switch service providers. Use the resources you have now to Google your senators and representatives. Send messages through their websites. Get their office phone numbers online or call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You don’t need to make a speech. Just say you are opposed to destroying net neutrality and want them to intervene.

Most of all, call the FCC who actually makes the rules. Here’s the number: (202) 418-1000 Take 10 seconds and leave them a voice mail. While one voice may not make a difference, thousands or millions of one voice each certainly will. Will you join me before it’s too late?

Note: Net Neutrality logo courtesy of Camilo Sanchez on Wikimedia Commons.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter