There are a number of technologies that work well for first mile connections. These include T1 lines, DSL, SONET fiber optic services and even microwave or 3G/4G wireless. The idea is to connect your building to your service provider, or at least a portal to your service provider. In many cases, you can’t connect directly to your preferred network service provider because they don’t have any resources close enough. In other cases, it’s more cost effective to do it in a couple of hops.
A very typical case is the venerable T1 line. These are almost universally used by businesses as first mile links. Why? Because they are highly reliable, reasonably priced and almost always available. That availability is based on using telco twisted pair copper wire bundles that run from the business directly to the nearest Central Office (CO). That CO is owned by the incumbent local phone company, but copper pairs and rack space for equipment are leased to other service providers. This is where you connect to your provider’s network.
In many areas you now have the option of connecting via T1 lines or Ethernet over Copper (EoC). They both use exactly the same bundled twisted pairs but have different interfacing equipment at each end. This may not make any difference to you if your provider is installing a managed router as part of the service. You’ll connect to the router with a standard Ethernet LAN cable. What will make a difference is the lease price you’ll pay each month and the bandwidth options available.
Ethernet over Copper is less expensive per Mbps in most areas. You can typically get 2 Mbps or even 3 Mbps EoC for the same price as a 1.5 Mbps T1 line. It’s an even better deal as you go up in bandwidth. T1 lines can be bonded to double, triple or quadruple line speed or even more. You can stretch this technology up to 10 or 12 Mbps, but it starts to get pricey at the high end. Ethernet over Copper scales much less expensively and to higher bandwidths. While 3 Mbps EoC is a popular replacement for T1 service, many companies order 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or even 45 Mbps Ethernet over Copper bandwidth. You can even get increments between these levels so that you don’t have to pay for any more connectivity than you actually need.
In addition to cost savings and increased bandwidth, there’s another reason that you may want to opt for Ethernet rather than T1 in the first mile. Standardized Carrier Ethernet services are now widely available. These include Ethernet Line (E-Line), Ethernet LAN (E-LAN) and VPLS (Virtual Private LAN Service). What they have in common is layer 2 connectivity that gives you the option to bridge your company LANs regardless of how far apart they may be separated. You need to keep everything in the Ethernet protocol to make this work. EoC will do that, T1 won’t. However, there is a service called EoDS1 that uses T1 lines to transport Ethernet where EoC isn’t available.
If you need higher speeds than Ethernet over Copper affords, you should take look at Ethernet over Fiber (EoF). It’s a replacement for SONET fiber optic services that include OC-3, OC-12, OC-48 and so on. Like EoC, EoF has both scalability and cost advantages. If you order a 1 Gbps port, as many companies do, you can have your provider deliver any bandwidth up to 1,000 Mbps and pay only for what you need. When your requirements increase, a simple phone call to your provider will get you higher bandwidth quickly. Ethernet over Fiber has the same Carrier Ethernet services available as Ethernet over Copper.
Are you thinking that Ethernet may be a better solution to your connectivity needs that what you have now? If so, get prices, bandwidths and availability of First Mile Ethernet services for your business locations.