Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gigabit Ethernet Port Scales WAN Bandwidth

When you are ready to make the move from copper to fiber bandwidth levels or upgrading an OC-3 SONET service, you are faced with a choice. What level of bandwidth do you install?

Plan ahead for your bandwidth growth needs.Why not give yourself flexibility for the future and the opportunity to pay only for what you need right now? This is what a Ethernet port strategy can do for you.

Scalability is a new idea in business telecom services. When you install a T1 line, it requires a very specific T1 interface that include a CSU/DSU circuit unique to the T1 line specifications. Upgrade to a T3 line (DS3 bandwidth) and you’ll find that you can’t just plug that T3 into your T1 router. The interface is completely different. Even the connecting cable is different. With DS3 you are looking at a pair of coaxial BNC connectors that don’t support any other service. Now, make yet another move on up to OC-3 service. Your router interfaces for T1 and T3 are no good. You need a fiber input to your router.

It doesn’t get any better when you start moving up the fiber optic hierarchy. You can’t just plug OC-12 or OC-48 into an OC-3 port and have everything spring to life. They are different services requiring modifications. You’ll likely need a new interface card and programming changes to your router. If you have a managed router, that probably means a truck roll to your premises to swap out the CPE (Customer Premises Equipment).

In the back of your mind, you must suspect it doesn’t have to be this way. Those new PCs have NICs (Network Interface Cards) labeled 10/100/1000 Mbps. That means that you can plug them into any LAN running at up to 1 Gbps and they’ll work just find. Even the connector takes the same RJ-45 patch cord. Wouldn’t that approach be far superior for WAN connections too?

This is the beauty of Carrier Ethernet, which includes Metro Ethernet, MPLS network access and long haul point to point connections. Ethernet beyond the LAN has been designed to be as flexible as Ethernet on the LAN.

One of Ethernet’s best features as a bandwidth service is ease of scaling. If you are running 50 Mbps service and find your needs have increased so that you now need 100 Mbps, you can just call up your service provider and request an upgrade. In a matter of hours or a day or two at the most, your WAN network speed will double. In that time, no one has knocked on the door with a new router under their arm. In fact, you haven’t seen anyone from the service provider. It was all done over the phone.

There is a trick to making this work. The magic is all in the installed Ethernet port. When you order Ethernet service, make sure that you have a port installed that will support the highest bandwidth you reasonably expect to be ordering down the road. Most ports are the standard Ethernet speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps. It’s also possible to get a 10,000 Mbps or 10 GigE port with a suitably fast managed router if your needs are that high.

With Ethernet over Copper, you are probably looking at a 100 Mbps Ethernet port at most. Be sure you know just what your maximum speed will be, because EoC is distance limited and requires more copper pairs as speed increases. Ask what bandwidth your installation will support compared to what you are ordering initially.

With Ethernet over Fiber, it likely makes sense to install a Gigabit Ethernet port. The fiber itself has more capacity that you are ever likely to employ. The speed of the port will be the limiting factor, along with the capability of the carrier’s equipment that feeds that port. Once again, it is smart to plan for the future but buy for today. Get the bandwidth you need now, but be sure that the system is engineered to allow for fast and easy upgrades as you need them. That will be especially handy if you get hit with a sudden increase in traffic or a need to support massive amounts of video or enormous file transfers that you didn’t anticipate.

Are you ready for a bandwidth upgrade, but unsure of what commitment to make? Give yourself some breathing room with a Gigabit Ethernet port and the ability to scale up your bandwidth as needed. Get prices and availability of Ethernet ports and line speeds now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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