Thursday, September 11, 2008

Last Mile Connections That Make Sense

Competitive telecom networks have criss-crossed the country and penetrated every metropolitan area. Their modern IP networks, fiber optic bandwidth and dramatically lower prices makes them very attractive to businesses of all sizes. But how do you get connected?

Often, the most important, most expensive and most limiting span of a wide area network is the drop to the customer site. It's widely known as the "last mile" connection. Why last mile? Because that's a typical distance from a business location to the nearest carrier POP or Point of Presence. A POP is equivalent to a telephone company's CO or Central Office. You need a building where the equipment goes that provides a connection or "termination" to the carrier's backbone network. That's the POP.

If you are actually within a mile or even a couple of miles from the nearest POP, you've got options. There are many different ways to span the distance. Traditionally, analog telephone lines and digital T1 service came-in on twisted pair copper bundles that were installed as a matter of course when your building was constructed. They still do. In fact, a T1 line makes a fantastic last mile connection for PBX telephone trunking, VoIP SIP trunking, MPLS multi-point networks, dedicated Internet access and point to point voice and data connections to other locations. T1 lines are highly reliable and can be bonded together to increase bandwidth.

But aren't they pretty expensive? They were at one time. That's why many businesses had to settle for slower 64Kbps and similar connections from their facilities to a much faster Frame Relay network. These days, that's like hooking a soda straw to a fire hose. You can't possibly tap the capability of the core network when you're so bandwidth restricted.

Fortunately, T1 lines cost only a fraction of what they did a few years ago. Just in time, too. You need at least 1.5 Mbps for many business applications and multiple line telephone systems. The copper pairs that transport T1 service can also be reconfigured to carry higher bandwidth Ethernet service directly from a carrier POP to your location. Your connection is via a standard Ethernet jack for bandwidths from 5 to 50 Mbps. Once on the network, your connectivity can run across town or across the country, even the world.

If your needs exceed the capability of Ethernet over Copper, you need the big daddy of last mile connections: fiber optics. All the metro and long haul networks are now fiber-based. The bandwidths available go up to a Gbps, called GigE, and even on to 10 Gbps. Prices per Mbps of bandwidth can be half what you're paying for non-Ethernet service now, or even less. But you'll need to have your building "lit" for fiber optic service. Is it already lit and you just don't know it? Find out with this Ethernet service locator.

Are there any other options for last mile connections? Yes, and one of these might be just the right service at the right price. In some major cities you can get wireless delivery up to 45 Mbps. The trick is that you need to have line of sight to the carrier's transmitting tower. For lower speed applications, like point of sale terminals in small retail locations, wireless connections using cellular broadband works well and is very affordable. At distances of only a few hundred feet to less than a mile, laser optics equipment can "beam" your connection across highways, lakes and other areas where fiber optic construction costs are astronomical.

Still scratching your head over what last mile connection makes the most sense for your business. Let our team of experts help you sort it out so you can get the best deal on the bandwidth you need. Simply call the toll free number or put in a quick online quote request using our MegaTrunks bandwidth service.

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

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