Fiber optic Internet service for residential users is the domain of Verizon’s FiOS. Google will soon enter the market on a test basis with a new benchmark of performance: 1 Gbps. But business broadband connections have moved past the Gbps upper limit, with 10 Gbps service becoming more common for major organizations. The technology is proven. The question is how much bandwidth do you need and where do you need it?
The key to fiber optic levels of telecom service is the “lit” building. That’s a location where fiber optic cable has been pulled into the facility and connected to terminal equipment. Once the fiber is lit by a service provider, the building is considered to be “on net” and able to select from a wide variety of service options. This facility can also be a jumping off point to provide fiber optic service to other nearby buildings. The most expensive and time consuming aspect of fiber optic service is the initial fiber construction.
What types of fiber optic bandwidth services are available? They typically fall into two categories. The first is traditional SONET / SDH telecom services. These are the original telco standards for voice and data over fiber optic strands. The most basic service is OC-3 or Optical Carrier, level 3. This is a 155 Mbps bandwidth service based on the same TDM or Time Division Multiplexing technology as copper based T1 and T3 lines. In fact, DS3 bandwidth at 45 Mbps is most often delivered as part of an OC-3 signal that can transport 3 of these DS3 services.
The SONET standard fiber optic services include OC-12 at 622 Mbps, OC-48 at 2.5 Gbps, OC-192 at 10 Gbps and OC-768 at 40 Gbps. This highest levels are most often used by carriers, themselves, as their backbone networks.
The other category of fiber optic service is Carrier Ethernet or Metro Ethernet. Ethernet services are standardized at the same levels seen in LAN networks. These are 10 Mbps standard Ethernet, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1000 Mbps GigE, and 10 Gbps or 10 GigE service. Intermediate service levels are generally available, as Ethernet is readily scalable.
How do you decide between SONET and Ethernet Internet connections? Both are reliable, proven technologies that can deliver the bandwidth you desire. What often differs is availability and price. The best approach is to get a complete selection of fiber optic service quotes from a telecom broker and compare pricing on the services available for your business location. You may be surprised at how affordable the higher bandwidths have become.