Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wide Area Computer Networking

Local Area Networks are ubiquitous for computer interconnections in both large and small businesses. The speed of the network is 10 Mbps Ethernet, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1 Gbps Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gbps 10 Gig-E or some combination of these. Backbone links to entire floors or buildings may run over optical fibers at gigabit rates, while drops to desktop workstations may need to be no faster than 100 Mbps. But how do you extend your network across town or across the country?

Network design over long distances is called Wide Area Networking. That wide area might be to neighboring towns or it could include facilities on the other side of the country or even International connections. WAN network connections come in a variety of protocols, availability and costs.

The most common broadband networking is using the Internet as a WAN with almost unlimited connections. To do this, you need a broadband drop from an Internet Service Provider for each of your locations. These can be DSL on the low end or, more typically, T1 lines for guaranteed reliability. Since the Internet is basically a public commons, you'll want to encrypt your data with VPN software to create a Virtual Private Network within the actual public network.

True private lines give you control over the traffic on your WAN connections. You can engineer your wide area network design to control such parameters as packet congestion, traffic priorities, and latency. If you need more throughput, you can upgrade to a higher speed line or bond additional low speed lines together to gain more bandwidth.

There are a number of different network protocols that serve WAN users. Traditional TDM or time division multiplexed trunks are tightly synchronized to keep data channels in their assigned time slots. T1 lines are an affordable solution for dedicated Internet connection or private point to point lines. A T1 line will give you 1.5 Mbps full duplex. That's generally enough for typical business electronic data Interchange. You can bond these lines together to increase bandwidth to 3, 4.5, 6 or more Mbps.

Higher speed TDM based lines include T3 carriers running at 45 Mbps and optical carriers, such as OC3 at 155 Mbps. OC3 can easily transport 100 Mbps LAN to LAN data. Higher speed lines such as OC12 offer 622 Mbps and OC48 offers 2,488 Mbps.

Newer metro and wide area fiber optic networks operate as IP networks rather than TDM. They are essentially Ethernet networks that encircle a town or go from point to point between cities and states. Since your packets stay in the IP format as they enter, traverse, and leave the network, you can manage an Ethernet, Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet WAN connection as an extension of your LANs.

Another specialized WAN protocol is Frame Relay. This is a privately run shared network that provides point to point or mesh connections over long distances as virtual private connections with committed information rates.

Which WAN solution is best for your business? Our technical support team is happy to discuss your needs and find the lowest cost carriers that meet your speed and reliability requirements. You'll find our easy to use WAN inquiry form.

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

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