Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fiber Optic Bandwidth Options

What do you do when the size of your business or the demands of your applications exceed the bandwidth you can get with T1 lines or even multiple bonded T1 lines? That's when you move up to bandwidth solutions delivered by fiber optic transport. OK, but of the available options which one do you pick?

Not long ago the only fiber optic bandwidth options were based on SONET, the Synchronous Optical NETwork technology pioneered by the phone companies for their own use. SONET picks up where the T-Carrier technology leaves off. T-Carrier includes T1 and T3 lines. T1 is 1.5 Mbps over twisted pair copper and T3 is 45 Mbps over coaxial cable. SONET expands these services to OC-1, OC-3, OC-12, OC-24, OC-48, OC-192, OC-256 and OC-768.

The base rate is OC-1 at 51.84 Mbps. That's the fiber equivalent to T3 over copper. But in practice, OC-3 at 155.52 Mbps is the lowest OC or Optical Carrier service level generally available. If you want T3 equivalent service, you order DS3 service at the same 45 Mbps rate at T3 and it is delivered on an OC-3 or higher fiber optic carrier.

Here's something that may surprise you. The T-carrier and SONET technologies are highly compatible even though one is intended for copper and one for fiber. That's because they were both designed to carry digitized telephone calls on 64 Kbps channels, each designated as DS0. Because of this compatibility, a long haul T1 line will likely be carried part of the distance by multiplexing it with many others on a fiber optic backbone between cities.

A big advantage of SONET is its reliability. SONET is generally deployed as two redundant rings. If one fails, the other takes over the full traffic within 50 milliseconds. This protection mechanism gives SONET services a high availability.

A newer technology and one that is on the ascendancy is Carrier Ethernet. Also referred to as Metro Ethernet when used within a metropolitan area, Carrier Ethernet is being aggressively marketed by competitive carriers who have deployed IP based backbone networks without the legacy of telephone technology to support. These carriers will run a fiber optic drop from their nearest Point of Presence, or even use Ethernet over Copper technology to deliver up to 50 Mbps for a few miles.

Carrier Ethernet is offered in a variety of bandwidths, including the familiar standards of 10 Mbps Ethernet, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet and 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet. These are all switched Ethernet services that are compatible with corporate LANs and used to extend your network across town or across the country. Because it is offered by competitive carriers with their own network connections, Carrier Ethernet generally enjoys a substantial cost advantage compared with SONET services.

If your bandwidth requirements are even larger than GigE, you may want a wavelength service. You contract for an entire wavelength on the fiber optic network, all for your own use. The bandwidth of a wavelength is often 2.5 Gbps or 10 Gbps. Beyond this, you need to get multiple wavelengths or "dark fiber" that you light yourself using your own equipment.

With all these different options, how can you be sure you are getting the best deal? The fast and easy way is to use a telecom broker who has access to the offerings of many carriers using a variety of technologies. You'll get a list of options and recommendations on what is most cost effective for your business. To do this, simply call the toll free number or enter a simple online quote request using our GigaPackets fiber optic bandwidth service.

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

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