That solution is Carrier Ethernet. You may still think that Carrier Ethernet is a specialty service found in only a few areas by even fewer service providers. Not any more. Carrier Ethernet is mainstream. There is a mad dash underway to convert TDM based networks to IP packet networks. It may not be much longer that you’ll even be able to get OC-3 bandwidth services.
It’s all about the switch from telephone technology based on individual circuits to computer network technology based on packets. What’s happened in recent years is that the vast majority of traffic around the world has changed from voice to data to video. Voice is now thought of as one more service on a converged network that can transport voice, data or video with equal ease.
OC-3 is a TDM or Time Division Multiplexing technology. It has its roots in telephony, where everything revolves around small discrete channels that each carry one individual digitized telephone call. All of those channels are carefully synchronized by giving them each their own time slot in the bitstream.
So what’s wrong with that? Nothing other than the fact that using this methodology to transport packets that aren’t the same size as channels and don’t require the TDM synchronization unduly complicates the network interface and introduces inefficiencies. An OC-3 line runs at 155.52 Mbps with a payload of 148.608 Mbps.
Ethernet is the same protocol that runs on your corporate network. What Carrier Ethernet does is enable that same protocol to run for long distances on Metropolitan and Wide Area Networks.
Is there a direct Ethernet equivalent to OC-3? Not exactly. Ethernet does have standard LAN speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 1,000 Mbps and 10,000 Mbps. Carrier Ethernet is far more scalable, though. You can order just about any bandwidth you require. A 150 Mbps Ethernet service is pretty much equivalent to the OC-3 speed. You could, however, select 100 Mbps, 200 Mbps or some other bandwidth that more closely matches your true requirements.
Here’s something else that makes your life easier. Install a Gigabit Ethernet port and you can easily upgrade to any bandwidth up to 1 Gbps at any time. Start with 150 Mbps to match that OC-3 today and later move up to 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, 750 Mbps or 1,000 Mbps when the need dictates. In the mean time, you’ll be paying for only what you need on that fiber optic link.
Moving from OC-3 to the next available standard of OC-12 means you’ll have to jump from 155 Mbps to 600 Mbps and wait for a technician to change out your router card or managed router. Moving from 150 Mbps Ethernet to 200 Mbps Ethernet or higher can be done with a phone call in hours or days, not potentially weeks or longer.
Best of all, Carrier Ethernet is almost always priced less per Mbps than OC-3 and similar telco services. The reasons are increased competition and a technology that is on the rise, not the decline. How much can you save by making the move from OC-3 bandwidth to Ethernet? Check fiber optic bandwidth prices and availability to find out how many competitive options are available for your business location.
Note: Graphic of router symbol courtesy of Tosaka on Wikimedia Commons.