Fiber optic bandwidth, either SONET or Ethernet, will get you the bandwidth you need for any conceivable application. The low end starts around 50 or 100 Mbps and goes up to at least 1 Gbps, with many locations eligible for 10 Gbps Ethernet (10 GigE) or OC-192 SONET (10 Gbps).
Copper bandwidth, either T-Carrier or Ethernet, will get you the bandwidth you need much faster. That bandwidth, though, is going to be a lot slower than what you can get with fiber. T1 lines are reasonably priced, available almost anywhere, and can be installed in a matter of weeks. The base bandwidth is 1.5 Mbps. Not enough to even consider? Then multiply that bandwidth by bonding additional T1 lines. You can get 12 Mbps over T1 by bonding 8 T1 lines together to act as one big bandwidth pipe.
An alternative is Ethernet over Copper. This service uses the same twisted pair copper telco lines as T1, but has a more efficient modulation scheme. You can easily get 10, 20 or 30 Mbps using 8 copper pair. EoC technology trades off bandwidth and distance, unlike T1 which is 1.5 Mbps no matter how far you are from the central office. If you are within a mile from the CO and the office is properly equipped, you may be able to get 50 to 100 Mbps Ethernet over Copper. Those speeds are starting to get competitive with OC-3 (155 Mbps) and Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps).
If fiber is what you really want, you could be looking at months to complete the installation. That’s especially true if the metro fiber is running down one side of the highway and you are on the other side. Or, if the nearest fiber connection is blocks away in the city. It’s much faster if your building is already “lit” for fiber optic service, even if you are not a subscriber. Adding customers to an already existing fiber installation is relatively easy. It’s also reasonably fast and easy if there is a fiber lit building next door.
You’ve got the idea that fiber installations aren’t a given for any particular business location. Not yet, anyway. Some estimates are that less than 25% of all business buildings are lit for fiber optic service. On the other hand, nearly 100% of all business buildings are already being served with copper telco lines. Most often these are multi-pair bundles installed for multiple line telephone service. Unused pairs can be quickly pressed into service for Ethernet over Copper or T1 line service. After all, they are already hooked up at both ends of the cable run.
With that in mind, here’s a two step solution that I’ve seen work when a business needs both high bandwidth and fast installation. What you do is work with a carrier that has both copper and fiber technologies available. That’s fairly common now. Have them install bonded T1 or Ethernet over Copper at the highest bandwidth they can quickly install. At the same time, place an order for fiber optic service at the bandwidth you really need. The trick is to get an agreement that you can drop the copper service without penalty once your fiber service is turned up.
By working out this type of arrangement, you may get as much as half the bandwidth you need on a fairly quick schedule. By the time you get used to doing business on the copper lines, your fiber will be cut-in and it will seem like someone opened the bandwidth floodgates. You’ll only have to pay for one service at a time, although you might think about it and keep the copper connection as a backup for your fiber if the budget permits.
Do you have a situation that needs special consideration for connectivity? There may be more options than you think. Get consultation and bandwidth option prices and provisioning times now.