Not every carrier does business internationally. In fact, there are really only a handful compared to all the others that operate regionally within a few bordering states or have a nationwide footprint. When you go from one country to another, you are dealing with different laws, different customs and sometimes even different technical standards.
For instance, did you know that the companding standard for digitized switch-circuit telephone calls is different between the US and Europe? They are almost, but not quite, identical. The standard CODEC (Coder/Decoder) for PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) is G.711. To improve the signal to noise ratio and create quieter calls, a technique called companding is used. Basically, the voice signal is compressed when it is sent and expanded on the other end. The compression doesn’t affect the noise on the line, but the expansion makes whatever noise is picked up during transmission lower in volume. The compression algorithm Mu-law is used in North America and Japan. Another algorithm called A-law is used in Europe and the rest of the world. By convention, A-law is the default for telephone connections where one party is in a country using A-law.
The same can be said about T1 lines. In Europe, there is no such thing as a T1 line. Over there the standard is E1. What’s the difference? It comes down to the number of channels and bandwidth of the line. T1 lines run at 1.5 Mbps using 24 channels of 64 Kbps each. That channel size was chosen as the standard for the PCM digital telephony just described. The US, Canada, Japan and South Korea use the T1 line standard. Japan calls their slightly different version J1. Europe and the rest of the world use E1 as a standard. E1 lines run at 2 Mbps and have 30 channels or time slots instead of 24.
None of this makes a hoot of difference unless you are trying to connect traffic from one country to another. Then, suddenly, being able to make the conversions between standards becomes critically important. Obviously, it’s possible to interface T1 to E1 and have your equipment set up to switch from Mu-law to A-law when needed. We communicate globally with no effort on the user’s part whatsoever. But somewhere along the line, someone has make that border crossing interface so that traffic flows smoothly. Those are your international carriers.
What cross-border telecom services are available? Private data lines are very popular with multi-national companies or companies that do business internationally. If there are only two locations, a point to point circuit with the right bandwidth is what you are looking for. If you have multiple locations, some of which are in other countries, a MPLS network is likely a better answer. MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. The multi-protocol aspect means that it can handle just about anything you can throw at it. An international carrier running an MPLS network can pick up your traffic anywhere they have a Point Of Presence and drop it off at any of their other POPs. You use an appropriate last mile connection, say T1, E1, Ethernet over Copper, SONET, Ethernet over Fiber, etc., to connect to the network POP.
Here’s an interesting fact. You may find that if the distance is long enough, an MPLS network is less expensive than a dedicated private line even for only two locations. That’s because the engineering and operations cost for that special private line can be substantial compared to an MPLS network that is already in place near your business locations.
Do you have a need to connect from the United States to one or more international destinations? Check cross-border line service availability and pricing to see just what your options are from carriers that specialize in these types of connections.
Note: Earth globe graphic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.