Monday, September 10, 2007

Types of Bandwidth for Wide Area Networks

Wide Area Networks, or WANs, are connections between your business and the outside world. A WAN may also be part of a private network that spans multiple business locations in a city, across the country or even worldwide. These long haul circuits put the WIDE in wide area network.

So, how does one connect the local area network (LAN) to the wide area network? The connection is most often through a router and a specialized interface matched to the type of WAN circuit.

The most common WAN connection is a T1 line. T1 lines terminate at a "smart jack" installed in your telecom closet or other back room. From this demarcation point, or "demarc", you connect the T1 line to a T1 interface in your router. This can often be provided from the bandwidth supplier as a managed router.

There are different flavors of T1 lines, depending on your application. All of them provide a guaranteed bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps both upload and download at all times. A T1 dedicated Internet line gives you a high reliability connection to a broadband Internet service provider. A point to point T1 connection gives you always-on private bandwidth between two business locations. You can add more point to point T1 lines to connect to other locations, or use your T1 line as portal to a private mesh network, such as a MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching network. Of course, you can also establish a VPN or Virtual Private Network using T1 dedicated Internet lines at each location.

So what if you need more bandwidth than a T1's 1.5 Mbps? One easy way to expand bandwidth incrementally at relatively low cost is to bond T1 lines together to get multiples of 1.5 Mbps. For instance, 2 lines give you 3 Mbps, 4 lines up that to 6 Mbps, and so on. T1 over copper pair is almost universally available and offers the best cost/reliability combination for lower bandwidth WAN needs.

A popular service in major metro areas is Ethernet. That's right. The same Ethernet you run on your LAN can be extended to the WAN. Your connection to the Wide Area Network becomes as simple as plugging into a RJ45 jack on the back wall. Where available, Ethernet gives you the best cost per Mbps for bandwidths of 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps. The one hitch is that most WAN Ethernet connections are provisioned on fiber optic cable. You need to be in a "lit" building or near by in order to take advantage of these offerings.

Another high bandwidth protocol that is popular for business connectivity is DS3. DS3 over fiber optic SONET service or a T3 line offers 45 Mbps both upload and download. It can be partitioned into multiple T1 lines, also called DS1 service, or be used as a solid block of high speed Internet or point to point bandwidth.

Fiber optic services themselves offer nearly unlimited bandwidth for larger corporations or high intensity communications needs. Individual "dark fiber" strands can be lit to provide up to 10 Gbps per Lambda or laser frequency. Major carriers are now working to bond fiber optic lambdas to create 100 Gbps and eventually 1 Tbps backbones nationwide. High definition television is just one application driving the need for such infrastructure.

What's your best option for business location bandwidth services? Find out quickly by calling the toll free number or get instant online quotes for T1 lines, DS3 bandwidth and fiber optic Ethernet to 1 Gbps.

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

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