Monday, April 16, 2018

Private Lines and Virtual Private Networks

By: John Shepler

Businesses often have need for a private line to communicate between headquarters and branch offices, factories & warehouses, retail franchises or suppliers. What’s important is reliable connections with security and transparency. The ideal private line gives you the same experience as your local area network.

Find private line and virtual private network solutionsClassic Point to Point Private Lines
Telephone companies have offered private lines since the analog days. Security systems and radio station studio to transmitter links are examples of private lines that were often little more than pairs of wires that ran directly from one location to another via the central office.

Digital communication introduced the T1 point to point private line that serves the same purpose. Bits go in one end and come out the other. T1 lines at 1.5 Mbps, DS3 at 45 Mbps and OC3 at 155 Mbps all offer private line service. Latency and packet loss are low. Speeds are fixed at the capacity of the line.

These private lines work well for connecting a central headquarters as a hub to branch offices as spokes. It takes one line per branch with the central switch or router directing traffic. The lines themselves serve as very, very long network wires to interconnect the LANs at the various locations.

Ethernet Private Lines
Since Ethernet is the protocol used on virtually all local networks today, it makes sense to have the private line running the same protocol. The telco solutions already mentioned require a protocol conversion module to convert between Ethernet and the proprietary protocol that runs on the lines themselves.

Carrier Ethernet private lines run the Ethernet protocol on the line itself. Carrier Ethernet is available as Ethernet over Copper for lower speed connections and Ethernet over Fiber for 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, with 100 Gbps becoming more available.

Ethernet services have more carriers competing for business which tends to reduce prices per Mbps. The cost per Mbps is almost always less for Ethernet and scalability is much easier. You can have a Gigabit Ethernet port installed and order any bandwidth from 10 Mbps up to 1000 Mbps. When you want an increase or decrease in capacity, a simple phone call to the carrier will make that happen quickly with no equipment changes required.

MPLS Networks
Private lines are a great solution if you only need to interconnect a few locations in a small geographical area. As the number of locations and their distance from headquarters increases, the cost goes up quickly. Each line has a charge and it varies with distance.

A popular alternative is the MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching network. This is a privately run network that uses a proprietary protocol called label switching instead of the more common TCP/IP. The fact that access is limited to subscribers only and the uniqueness of the LS protocol provide a level of security even though you are sharing the network with other users.

MPLS operators work to ensure that you have no awareness of other traffic. Bandwidth, latency, jitter and packet loss are carefully managed to meet the needs of all subscribers with extra margin for bandwidth bursting when needed.

MPLS is also known a MPLS VPN or Virtual Private Network. That’s because it isn’t truly private and fully dedicated to your use like a private line. If you are feel that you need a additional level of security, you do have the option to encrypt your data before it enters the MPLS network.

Why choose MPLS? It’s a big money saver over long distances where private lines get expensive. All you need is a short private line connection to the network at each location and instructions to the operator as to how to route your traffic.

Internet VPN Solutions
The Internet is the least cost wide area networking solution with highest geographic connectivity. Performance can vary widely. It’s also the least secure network you can find. Anyone and everyone can easily get a connection, and they do.

How can you make the Internet act like a private line? You provide your own encryption from point to point. Two popular approaches are IPsec based on software installed on each computer and SSL or Secure Socket Layer that is already built into web browsers.

Choosing a Private Line Solution
Which approach is best? It depends highly on how many locations you have, where they are, what traffic you intend to send, and what level of performance you require.
There are cost/benefit tradeoffs to each of the above solutions. What’s right for you? An expert consultant will be happy to review your private line or VPN network needs and provide one or more solutions that can do what your business needs done.

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

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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Modernize Your T3 & DS3 Bandwidth Connections

By: John Shepler

Companies that grew up with T1 lines naturally graduated to T3 lines or DS3 connections as their bandwidth needs increased. These technologies are firmly established to deliver secure reliable bandwidth with low latency, packet loss and jitter. While you may be perfectly happy with the line service you have now, you might also be missing out on some advantages of new technology approaches.

Try this bandwidth locator to see what upgrades are available for your business location.

T-Carrier Legacy
The story begins with the development of T1 lines starting after WWII. The impetus to create a new telephone trunking system was driven by the high cost and noisy performance of analog carrier telephony for long distance lines. T1 was the first digital replacement. It offered 24 digitized telephone lines on two pair of ordinary twisted pair telco cable. Each independent channel was time division multiplexed into a data stream running at 1.5 Mbps.

That’s still the spec for T1 lines. You can find the same channelized lines in use today for ISDN PRI telephone trunks to PBX phone systems. It’s organized as 23 phone lines and 1 control channel. Most T1 lines, though, have the channels combined to transport a 1.5 Mbps bit stream for data transmission. T1 lines can be combined or bonded to create larger “pipes”, up to about 10 or 12 Mbps.

T3 & DS3 Upgrade
T3 and DS3 use multiplexing compatible with T1 lines to create 28x the bandwidth or about 45 Mbps. T3 lines require frequencies too high to travel very far on twisted pair copper. T3 was originally provisioned on coaxial cable or via microwave towers. Later, fiber optic lines were implemented for long haul, with small diameter coax to the customer handoff in the building.

You might be wondering what the difference is between T3 and DS3. T3 is the physical circuit, coaxial cable or microwave link. DS3 is the signal that rides on the T3 line. The situation is similar for T1 lines. In that case, the signal is called DS1.

SONET Fiber Optic
Even the 45 Mbps bandwidth of a T3 line soon became a limiting factor for long distance telephony and the rise of digital computing. The next telco standard was a fiber optic definition called SONET for Synchronous Optical NETwork. SONET was designed to be compatible with DS1 and DS3 so that it was easy to multiplex or combine multiple DS3s onto, say, an OC3 at 156 Mbps. OC12 offers even higher bandwidth and OC48 was the prevailing network core bandwidth until recently.

Carrier Ethernet is a Game Changer
T-Carrier (T1 and T3) and SONET were products of the telephone companies and more suited to channelized telephony than computer data. Through a protocol conversion process they can be made to carry the standard Ethernet signals that run on LAN networks, but why not just keep everything in the Ethernet format end to end?

Why not, indeed! This is what Carrier Ethernet does. It replaces the earlier telco standards with long distance Ethernet directly compatible with in-house network connections. Instead of T1, T3, OC3, OC12 and OC48, you have Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, 10 GigE and so on. A major difference is that Ethernet is easily scalable, while T-Carrier and SONET require equipment changes whenever you move to a higher standard.

Modernizing to Ethernet Connections
Carrier Ethernet networks, sometimes called IP networks because the protocol is the same as what is used on the Internet, are expanding rapidly to replace older Metro and Wide Area Networks. They offer the same dedicated, symmetrical bandwidth low in latency, packet loss and jitter. You can order point to point connections or dedicated connections to the Internet.

Ethernet comes in both copper and fiber options. Ethernet over Copper is a good upgrade for T1 from 3 Mbps up to 15Mbps, 20 Mbps or even more. Entry level Ethernet over Fiber is around 10 Mbps. Fiber is easily scaled to 50 Mbps that can replace T3 or DS3. It can also ramp up to 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet and 10,000 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Even 100 Gbps Ethernet is available in some areas.

An Even Lower Cost Alternative
Business Cable Broadband is another service that has become extremely popular with small and medium size businesses. DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 modems offer an Ethernet connection to your network with speeds that easily reach 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps. An upgrade to 10 Gbps symmetrical bandwidth is being readied.

The attraction of cable is that it is readily available in most cities and often can be installed quickly with little or no construction charges. It is also the least cost per Mbps for the bandwidth you need. It is designed to work best for Internet browsing including video and file downloads. The bandwidth is generally asymmetrical, often as much as 10x as high in the download as upload direction. Cable bandwidth is shared, not dedicated, so you may find the speed varying throughout the day. Even so, many business and well and residential users are sold on cable broadband. For secure point to point connections you can use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) over the Internet.

Are you still on an old T3 or DS3 service contract? You’ll be amazed how much bandwidth you can get today for the same cost. Find out right now how many bandwidth providers serve your business location and what they offer.

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

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two Flavors of Fast Ethernet Service

By: John Shepler

No need to let bandwidth limitations stifle your business. Here are two affordable options to acquire 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet service, likely as much as a small to medium size operation will need. I’ll tell you later how to upgrade that to Gigabit Ethernet when the time is right.

Check out your options for Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet now.Fast Ethernet over Fiber
The gold standard in business bandwidth has shifted from legacy T1 lines to fiber optic service. Not the old expensive SONET telco fiber that you know as OC-3, OC-12 or OC-48. I’m talking about the modern Carrier Ethernet standard known as Ethernet over Fiber, also called Metro Ethernet.

Entry level fiber service typically starts at 10 Mbps. That’s enough for many small businesses with limited Internet or file transfer needs. With even a few employees or heavy use of cloud applications, you’ll be craving more performance. That’s where Fast Ethernet shines. It offers 100 Mbps x 100 Mbps dedicated bandwidth 100% of the time.

Features of Fast Ethernet over Fiber
Performance is much like your old T1 line or DS3 connection, but much faster. Symmetrical bandwidth means that your upload and download speeds are both 100 Mbps. That’s important if you run cloud applications that send large files in both directions. Backup to cloud storage is almost exclusively in the upload direction until you need to recover a file.

Fiber optic bandwidth is known for low latency, packet loss and jitter. Your service will be solid since all of the line bandwidth is dedicated to your business. Whatever capacity you aren’t using at the moment sits idle, much like the way a Local Area Network behaves.

That brings up another important advantage of Fast Ethernet over Fiber. It is directly compatible with your LAN. Just plug it in to your router or switch and it’s ready to use. Many business networks run at 100 Mbps, although new installations are typically 1000 Mbps and larger networks are 10,000 Mbps or 10 GigE.

Option #2 Fast Ethernet over Cable
Business Cable Broadband has come a long way over the years. Most systems are HFC or Hybrid Fiber Cable. That architecture employs a private fiber optic network for the long haul runs. Traditional 75 ohm coaxial copper cable connects from the curb to your building. The termination equipment is a DOCSIS modem. Most are DOCSIS 3.0, which easily provides 100 Mbps Internet service up to a maximum of 1.2 Gbps in the download direction. The newer standard is DOCSIS 3.1, which easily provides Gigabit Internet service with a growth path to as high as 10 Gbps in both directions.

Characteristics of Fast Ethernet over Cable
Two advantages of Cable broadband are availability and cost. You can get service if the cable runs past your building, and that’s most buildings in metro areas. The cost for 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet is likely a fraction of what you pay for Ethernet over Fiber. Construction costs are minimal, if at all. Simply plug your network into the Ethernet connector on the DOCSIS modem.

The cost difference is reflected in a difference in service level, although that may not make a difference depending on how you use the service. Cable bandwidth is shared, not dedicated, which can mean variations in line speed that depend on how many other users are online and how heavily they are using the service.

The bandwidth is asymmetrical, meaning that download is much faster than upload. A typical bandwidth service is 100 Mbps down and 10 Mbps to 25 Mbps up. Typically Internet usage is heavily in the download direction for web browsing and watching video. Email is both upload and download, but the files tend to be fairly small and not affected by the asymmetry. If you send to large mailing lists to deliver video from your own servers, the upload bandwidth could become a limitation.

Upgrading Bandwidth
One advantage that both fiber and cable service share is that they are easily scalable compared to the old T-Carrier and SONET telco standards. You simply need a port that can handle the maximum bandwidth you anticipate needing. For fiber, that’s a Gigabit Ethernet port on the Customer Premises Equipment. For cable it’s a DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 modem. With those in place, you can upgrade your speed with just a phone call and no equipment changes will be necessary.

Do you feel limited by your current point to point or Internet access speed? You may be surprised how affordable a major upgrade is. Check out Fast Ethernet service options for your business now.

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

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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.

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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.

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