You might see this as an example of “everything old is new again,” but this technology is a twist on the old twisted pair. While analog signals defined telephony in its first century, digital will rule the next century. What remains the same is the actual physical copper wireline.
Why does this make sense in an age of fiber optic communications? It’s a matter of economics. If we were made out of money, the thing to do would be to rip up all that copper in the ground and replace it with unlimited bandwidth glass fibers. But we’re not made of money and it turns out that voice-grade copper line has far more capability that we ever thought possible.
When we think of the copper phone wires that come into our homes and businesses, we think of telephone handsets for talking and 56 Kbps modems for our computers. That was last century’s technology. By switching from analog to digital transmission, you can have business grade telephone service and broadband up to 20 Mbps on those same copper phone lines.
How is this different from DSL? DSL is actually a hybrid of analog telephony with digital data sharing the same line at frequencies beyond the range of human hearing. It’s a way for residential and small business users to add broadband Internet service to their existing phone line. As a "best effort" information service, DSL was designed to optimize cost and has some well known performance and availability issues.
This is something different. It is based on Ethernet over Copper technology that bonds multiple dry copper pair to deliver a highly reliable and solid bandwidth all-digital signal to business locations only. It’s not a residential service. It’s intended for businesses that require a robust voice and data service similar to what they may be getting from an Integrated T1 line.
TelePacific, a major competitive carrier serving California and Nevada, calls their service SmartVoice. It’s an enterprise VoIP telephone service using SIP signaling. This voice service is combined with either dedicated broadband Internet access or MPLS network service. You would choose broadband to have both telephone and Internet brought in on the same line. You’d choose MPLS to link multiple business locations for both telephone and data exchange.
TelePacific maintains high voice quality by dynamically integrating the voice and data traffic on the line. Lower grade VoIP services simply use a broadband line for both telephone and computers. When data traffic gets high, voice quality suffers and calls can even be dropped. Dynamic line service actively manages packet priority so that telephone calls have priority and get the bandwidth they need for best operation. The remaining line bandwidth is assigned to data transmission. You are far less likely to notice or be annoyed by small variation in data rates than garbled and broken conversations. Once a phone call is finished, the bandwidth it had been using is reassigned automatically to the bandwidth pool for data. That’s the dynamic aspect to the technology.
What advantages does Ethernet over Copper have over the older Integrated T1 line service? Lower cost is one big advantage. EoC is lower in cost and offers more bandwidth options. You can typically get 1 to 20 Mbps bandwidth with EoC. T1 lines are fixed at 1.5 Mbps, although they can be bonded to deliver higher speeds.
Is Ethernet over Copper voice or data service the best cost/performance option for your company? You may be missing out on a major cost savings, so check Ethernet over Copper prices and availability now.
Photo of Thomas Edison courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.