An example is the aggressive buildout by Integra Telecom into 120 telephone company central offices (COs) serving more than 400,000 businesses. Why colocate in telco offices instead of just building your own points of presence?
The answer has to do with the copper. Copper is gold in the telecom world. He who has the gold, and to some extent makes the rules, is by law the Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs), also known as the local telephone companies. All that twisted pair copper in the ground and flying overhead was put there by the ILECs for their own use. Under deregulation, they lease it out to competing carriers, like Integra, who install their own equipment to access that copper within the ILEC COs.
It’s only the last mile that Integra and other carriers lease. The rest of the signal path is through their own proprietary networks. By using that last mile of twisted pair copper wires, EoC providers can provision anywhere from 2 to 45 Mbps of Carrier Ethernet bandwidth and services. That’s faster than even bonded T1 lines can go and competes with low end fiber optic services. That makes connectivity available in the two-thirds of business buildings that aren’t yet lit for fiber.
So, what can you expect from Ethernet over Copper? First of all, it’s Ethernet. This is the same protocol that runs on your network. When adapted to run on telecom services, it’s called Carrier Ethernet. This makes the interface to your network as simple as plugging into a standard RJ-45 Ethernet connector installed by the carrier.
Even more important, your traffic stays on Ethernet as it traverses the path between company locations. The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), an industry standards group, has created several Carrier Ethernet services that support business connections. The first is Ethernet Private Line (EPL). This is similar to the point to point T1 service you may have now. It connects two locations with a Ethernet Virtual Circuit (EVC) for the exclusive use of your traffic.
One difference is that you have a wider range of bandwidth choices available. The other very noticeable difference is that Ethernet services tends to be considerably more cost effective than T1. You can typically get 3 Mbps EoC for the same price as 1.5 Mbps T1. As you increase bandwidth, the cost savings get even more attractive.
A related service is Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL). This is a point to multipoint connection. You could use EVPL to establish a star network with your headquarters location in the center, connecting many other business locations.
Another service gaining popularity is E-LAN or Ethernet LAN service. This is an Ethernet based cloud networking service that connects multiple locations in a meshed arrangement. Because it is Ethernet, you can use it as a bridged network connection to join the LANs at all of your diverse business locations so that they operate as one very large company network.
Ethernet over Copper offers you an expanded range of services than what you have now with an expanded bandwidth selection that is easily scalable and less costly than traditional telecom services. The one question is whether you can get EoC yet? With the rapid deployment by many carriers, the answer is probably YES. Want to find out? Get availability and pricing for Ethernet over Copper services suitable for your business locations.