Thursday, June 18, 2009

AboveNet Leads in High Bandwidth Ethernet Connectivity

There's a major transition underway in high bandwidth telecom services. It's a move from traditional SONET / SDH technology to Ethernet IP technology. There are good reasons for this evolutionary, or should I say revolutionary, change. They are rooted in the decades-long transition from analog to digital communications and the near universality of Ethernet as the network protocol of choice. Could we be at a tipping point for Ethernet in fiber optic communications? AboveNet makes a good case for just that.

AboveNet is a high bandwidth provider serving fifteen major U.S. markets plus the United Kingdom. They specialize in fiber optic MAN and WAN connectivity from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps for companies that need this kind of bandwidth at lower costs than traditional telco solutions.

In their white paper, "Advantages of Ethernet vs Sonet, A Compelling Choice," AboveNet makes the case that cost is a major driver but not the only reason to switch from SONET / SDH to Gigabit Ethernet (Gig E). Ethernet is a better match with today's networks that are increasingly IP based. SONET is a TDM technology based on channels rather than packets. It works as a metro and long haul carrier for packet based networks, but with an inefficiency caused by the protocol conversions back and forth from TDM to IP. This can result in added latency and increased risk for data loss, as well as higher costs.

What may be lost to history is that SONET, the Synchronous Optical NETwork, is a product of telephone company research. At its foundation is the 64 Kbps data channel or DS0. There are thousands of them all multiplexed and synchronized to create SONET fiber optic high bandwidth services. Why such an arrangement? Each of those small channels is just the right size to carry one digitized telephone call. That was the original impetus for SONET. It was to efficiently transport high volumes of telephone calls from one telephone exchange to another.

SONET, of course, has grown from it's switched circuit telephony roots. With appropriate protocol conversions, those DS0 channels can be aggregated to transport IP packets as well as PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) voice. SONET has been the dominant technology for long-haul networks and fiber optic MAN and WAN connections. It's design includes redundant paths with a 50 mSec failover time to make it a highly reliable transport service.

But telephony as well as everything else in electronic communications is going to IP or Internet Protocol. VoIP is replacing analog and TDM telephony for business and residential users. At the enterprise level, there are enormous cost savings possible with converged voice/data/video networks. Why create an all-IP network based on Ethernet within the enterprise, only to have to convert it to TDM-based SONET for transport between locations or to a distant IP service provider?

Carrier Ethernet, the flavor of Ethernet specified for metropolitan and long haul networks, has the advantage of being IP at its core. No conversions are necessary from LAN to MAN to WAN and back to LAN at some remote location. This seamless connectivity reduces latency and improves network efficiency by eliminating conversion steps.

AboveNet operates its own network with over 2 million fiber miles worldwide and a reach of more than 1,800 lit buildings. Their services included MAN and WAN connectivity, plus managed services for WDM Wavelength, Metro Ethernet, WAN Ethernet and IP transit.

If your organization has a need for high bandwidth services and you want to acquire them at the best possible price, then consider getting competitive quotes on fiber optic services from AboveNet and other highly competitive carriers. This telecom brokerage service is free to serious business users, with complementary consulting on your corporate requirements.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter