Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is a technology that delivers standard Ethernet services over twisted pair copper telco wiring. This is somewhat different than simply wiring your facilities with Cat 5E or Cat 6 wiring. Yes, those are also twisted pair copper circuits. What’s different about EoC is that it is designed to run on copper infrastructure that was never designed to support the Ethernet protocol.
Ethernet over Copper in the MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network) needs to use the same copper that’s been in place for decades. That’s the beauty of copper to the premises. The costs of construction have already been paid. In fact, at least some of the many copper pair are probably already in use for multi-line telephone service and T1 broadband connections.
How is this compatibility accomplished? Each twisted pair of small gauge copper wire is simply an electrical connection from your building to the nearest telephone company office. Before they are put into service, these are known as dry copper pair. Dry because they have no electrical signals imposed on them. A dry pair can be used as an analog telephone line, one leg of a T1 line, or for a security alarm circuit. It depends on what you wire it to. Take several dry pair and connect them to EoC terminal equipment and you have a high speed Ethernet over Copper link from your location to the telco office. From there it can be connected, usually by fiber optic line, to just about anywhere in the country.
Ethernet services have been standardized like other telecom services. The two most popular are E-Line and E-LAN. E-Line is Ethernet Line service, a point to point connection that ties two LANs together across town or even on other sides of the world. E-LAN is Ethernet LAN service. As the name implies, this is a multipoint service that connects three or more locations in a meshed network. E-LAN can join multiple branch offices with headquarters as if they were all on the same LAN.
Ethernet over Copper bandwidth varies from 1 Mbps on the low side on up to at least 20 Mbps. Some carriers claim 50 Mbps or higher capability over copper. What you need to know, however, is that EoC is a distance limited technology. At the lower speeds you can be up to 12,000 feet away from the carrier’s nearest point of presence. Higher speeds will limit you to less than a mile. This is why Ethernet over Copper is known as a metropolitan service and isn’t generally found in rural areas.
Ethernet is designed to be much more scalable than T-Carrier or SONET services. You can have a 20 Mbps Ethernet port installed but only order 5 Mbps x 5 Mbps service. When your needs exceed 5 Mbps, you’ll be able to call your service provider and request a step up on bandwidth. This may be accomplished in as little as an hour. Compare that to waiting weeks for a truck roll on other services.
Ethernet over Copper is highly cost effective and is starting to displace traditional T1 lines. For about the same money, you often get twice the bandwidth when you choose EoC. That’s 3 Mbps versus 1.5 Mbps. Plus, higher speeds are generally available at reasonable costs over copper Ethernet connections.
Now that you know what it is, could you benefit from an increase in bandwidth or a better bandwidth price? If so, check prices and availability of Ethernet Service over Copper or Fiber.