There are several practical solutions to increasing your MAN or WAN bandwidth above the Gigabit per second level and up to 10 Gbps. Let’s see what we can do with SONET, Ethernet, Wavelength and Dark Fiber.
SONET is the telecom fiber optic standard invented by Bell Labs for the telephone industry. It was originally deployed to transport thousands upon thousands of simultaneous telephone calls between switching centers. SONET has evolved to carry data as well as digitized phone calls. As it turns out, voice traffic is in the minority now.
SONET stands for Synchronous Optical NETwork. That describes how it is designed. This is a tightly synchronized time division multiplexed system intended for switched circuit implementation. There are specific service levels associated with SONET levels. These are designed as OC or Optical Carrier levels. The lowest generally available is OC-3 at 155 Mbps, followed by OC-12 at 622 Mbps.
The next level OC-24 takes you to the Gigabit level at 1.24 Gbps. OC-24 isn’t as commonly deployed as the next level, OC-48 at 2.5 Gbps. OC-48 is becoming the new high bandwidth standard for organizations that need high speed private lines or dedicated Internet connections. OC-192 is the 10 Gigabit service level, running at a line rate of 9.95 Gbps. From there you jump up to OC-768 at 40 Gbps. You’ll recognize that as a backbone network bandwidth for fiber optic carriers. OC-768 isn’t generally required at the corporate level just yet.
Notice that there are fairly wide gaps in the service levels between SONET OC levels. If you need 2 Gbps, OC-48 service at 2.5 Gbps makes sense. However, if you need 3 Gbps, you have to go all the way up to OC-192 at 10 Gbps. In some cases, you can find fractional OC-48 service at a better price. This is simply OC-48 that is throttled to provide only the 3 Gbps or other bandwidth you need. There might not be much cost savings, since OC-48 is a standard service level and fractional SONET services are a special order, if available.
Carrier Ethernet is a far more scalable service than SONET. It does have industry standard service levels, such as 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1 Gbps Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gbps 10 GigE. Most service providers will allow you to scale your service in small increments up to the maximum capacity of the installed port. With a 10 GigE Port, you can easily get 3 Gbps, 9 Gbps or bandwidths in-between. Since Ethernet networks were designed with this scalability in mind from the beginning, service level changes are fairly automated and can be made in a matter of days, if not hours, with no equipment changes needed.
Wavelength services are offered for high performance latency sensitive applications. Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) splits the fiber optic laser beam into dozens of individual wavelengths or colors that act as independent private lines. There is no interconnection between wavelengths. A wavelength is dedicated to your needs and carries your traffic exclusively. Typical speeds available are 1 GigE, 2.5 Gbps, 10 Gbps, 10 GigE and 40 Gbps. Note that both SONET and Ethernet protocols are available over individual wavelengths.
Dark Fiber gives you the ultimate in flexibility. It is simply a glass strand between two of your locations. You can run any protocol you like at any speed you want over as many wavelengths as you care to deploy. Bandwidth is nearly unlimited, but the catch is that you have to buy, install and maintain the transmission equipment that feeds the fiber.
Have your requirements reached the point where 10 Gigabit bandwidth services are a reasonable consideration. The good news is that there are multiple carriers eager to bid for your business between 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps or beyond. Get competitive quotes for Gigabit and 10 Gigabit level fiber optic services now. You may be surprised how affordable these high bandwidth services have become.