There was a time when all you could do is sit there and cool your jets while you waited for your fiber service to be turned up. A number of carriers are now more sensitive to the plight of businesses that need bandwidth fast and have come up with a two-stage solution. It involves provisioning two services simultaneously. One if the high bandwidth fiber you want long term. The other is a copper-based service designed to tide you over until the fiber is active.
Why copper? Twisted pair copper services are the easiest and quickest to deploy because the copper is already in place. What copper? It the multi-pair telephone cabling that runs from your building to the nearest telco Central Office (CO). Inside that bundle are many individual pairs of small diameter copper wire. Some are used to provide standard analog business telephone service. The rest are spares for future use. These are the one you press into service for digital bandwidth.
The most common copper-based bandwidth service for business is T1. The T1 line offers you point to point dedicated private line connectivity or dedicated Internet access. It is highly reliable and only takes one or two twisted pair to install. T1 is now almost universally available. It is found in metropolitan areas and far out into the countryside. The signal regeneration capability of T1 circuits allow them to deliver service over miles and miles. If you can get business telephone service, chances are that you can also get T1 line services.
The one little fly in the ointment with T1 is the bandwidth. It is a meager, by today’s standards, 1.5 Mbps in both upload and download directions. That’s certainly not going to help much if what you really need is 50 or 100 Mbps over fiber. Fortunately, it is possible to get more than one T1 line at most locations. You can combine the bandwidth of those lines in a process called “bonding.” Bonded T1 lines range from 2 lines delivering 3 Mbps on up to 8 lines delivering 12 Mbps.
Granted, 12 Mbps isn’t the screaming 100 Mbps you might want, but it can easily be a good place to start. Some companies don’t really need even 50 or 100 Mbps at all times. A 12 Mbps circuit can be a lifeline to keep them going until the big pipe is transporting traffic.
Another possibility today is Ethernet over Copper or EoC. This service is a modernized form of copper-based bandwidth that uses the Ethernet protocol rather than a proprietary telecom protocol. EoC transmission can use the same spare copper twisted pairs that would otherwise be used for T1. A big advantage of Ethernet over Copper is that is can transport much high bandwidths over the same 4 or 8 copper pair. The tradeoff is distance. If you are close to the CO, you may be able to get up to 50 Mbps over copper. Farther away, you’ll be limited to 10 or 20 Mbps. Still, if EoC equipment is already installed in your CO, you may be able to get this service in a matter of weeks or less rather than many months for fiber.
If you are starting a new business, moving an office or establishing a new location, you may not be able to function without digital bandwidth service. If you decide to go with the two-step process to get up and running quickly, be sure to choose a solution that lets you cancel your copper service without penalty once the fiber link is up and running.
Some companies choose to keep the copper service active anyway in order to have a backup for their fiber optic service. Since one is fiber and one is copper, they are unlikely to be in the same cable and may not even take the same path. This offers protection against cable cuts and equipment outages that can leave you high and dry until repairs can be make.
Are you in or anticipating a situation where you absolutely need a bandwidth connection and can’t wait months for provisioning? Consider installing copper while waiting for fiber to get the business bandwidth you require.