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.
What’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.