For those who remember only a few years ago when a T1 line offering 1.5 Mbps was considered a high bandwidth connection, the notion that 100 Mbps is now the benchmark may be a bit unnerving. A lot has changed over the last decade. Application requirements have increased dramatically. We might have settled for fuzzy slow motion video conferencing when even that was a novelty. Now it’s full motion HD two-way video and telepresence. E-commerce has gone from an add-on service for a bricks and mortar facility to the dominant way that many companies do business. Dynamic interactive web pages with video have replaced low resolution static HTML brochure pages.
There are also many businesses that can’t operate electronically without high bandwidth connections. These include video production, content delivery and medical imaging. It’s 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps... or forget it.
There’s no reason to forget it anymore. High bandwidth services are readily available and lower in cost than you may imagine. That’s the other big change between the start of this decade and the end. Line prices have plummeted as new competitive carriers with the latest network technology have come on the scene. While T-Carrier and SONET may be the entrenched legacy carrier services, Ethernet has become the bandwidth solution of choice. On a Mbps and Gbps basis, Metro Ethernet and Carrier Ethernet solutions are often a fraction of the price demanded for T-Carrier or SONET and a small fraction of standard pricing ten years ago.
Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps makes a lot of sense as a bandwidth requirement for dedicated Internet access or point to point and multipoint connectivity. The standard Ethernet LAN speeds are 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps. In some cases, that’s been increased to 10 Gbps. Many, Many networks have most of their nodes running at 100 Mbps simply because so much equipment has network interface cards standardized at 10/100 Mbps. The big speed bump has been at the edge of the LAN where it connects to the outside world. Fast Ethernet may be more than adequate for internal file transfers. But going from 100 Mbps inside to a 1.5 Mbps T1 line outside can slow traffic to a crawl.
Medium and larger companies have reduced the speed bump by upgrading from T1 to DS3 connections. DS3 offers 45 Mbps, a bandwidth increase of 28x when line overhead is factored in. The new replacement for DS3 is Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps. That’s more than double the bandwidth, a protocol that is directly compatible with corporate LANs, and a cost savings to boot. What’s not to like?
Is your company missing out because you thought that 100 Mbps was beyond your reach? Take a few minutes right now to get 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet prices and availability. You may well be able to get more bandwidth for less than you spend now.
Note: Photo of network switches courtesy of Wikipedia Commons