Monday, September 24, 2012

Fiber Optic vs Ethernet over Copper Connections

The most popular business bandwidth connections are now Ethernet over Copper and Fiber Optic connections, including Ethernet over Fiber. The commonly assumed tradeoff is copper for best price and wide availability, versus fiber for high bandwidth and ease of scaling up as business demands increase. That picture is changing, though. What’s happening is that fiber is becoming more available and lower in cost, challenging copper solutions even at lower bandwidths.

Check lower pricing and greater availabilty of fiber optic bandwith service.Copper has enjoyed the advantages of being first to market and near universal availability. Thanks to the FCC’s policy of Universal Service, copper pair go anywhere and everywhere. Granted, this was intended to be for analog telephone service. However, the same copper pair than can transport phone conversations can also be used for DSL, T1, and Ethernet over Copper.

T1 was the original digital line service, developed after WWII for telephone company trunking and designed to be directly compatible with copper lines already installed. Even the repeater design was set to match the manhole access every 6,000 ft. Today, T1 line service is available everywhere nationwide. Costs have dropped dramatically over the last decade so that even smaller companies can afford the service. The major limitation of T1 is that its once-blazing 1.5 Mbps bandwidth is no longer adequate for many applications.

You can order T1 bonded service in many markets. This combines the bandwidth of two or more T1 lines to create one faster line service. Unfortunately, there is no economy of scale. Two lines cost twice as much as one. In other words 3 Mbps is 2x the cost of 1.5 Mbps. The most you can get is 10 to 12 Mbps with this technology, and the higher bandwidths aren’t often available.

Ethernet over Copper has stepped into this void using the same twisted copper pair as T1 lines. Ethernet over Copper (EoC) uses a more sophisticated modulation scheme to get more bandwidth from the same number of copper pair. Entry level is typically 3 Mbps, which is available for the same price as 1.5 Mbps T1. Unlike T1, the upper bandwidth level goes to 20, 30 or even 50 Mbps. The tradeoff is that EoC is distance limited. The farther you are from the central office, the less bandwidth you can get.

Fiber optic service is the bandwidth king, of course. There are no distance limitations. You can get 10, 100, or 1,000 Mbps without regard to how long the fiber link is. You can order the telecom traditional SONET telecom fiber services that start at OC-3 (155 Mbps) or get Ethernet over Fiber (EoF) starting typically at 10 Mbps and scaling easily to 1 Gbps and even 10 Gbps. The size of the port you install determines your maximum bandwidth. Most providers install either a 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet port or a 1,000 Gigabit Ethernet port.

Fiber has many advantages but has rolled out slowly for small and medium size companies due to limited availability and high costs. Both of these limitations have been evaporating as of late. The demand for fiber has multiplied with office automation and the migration to cloud based services. Mobile broadband has been supported by T1 lines, but they don’t cut it for LTE. The cellular companies are installing fiber to their towers as fast as they can.

Another factor is the rise of competitive network bandwidth providers. These companies have no relationship to the legacy telcos and no copper infrastructure. They build regional and national fiber optic networks, often with MPLS or IP technology at the core. They’ve all got one thing is common: They’re hungry for business.

The result of this new fiber land-rush is that availability is dramatically increasing and prices are plunging. You can now get 10 x 10 Mbps symmetrical fiber optic service for maybe two or three times the cost of a T1 line. What’s more, the price doesn’t go up that dramatically as you increase bandwidth. You can get 50 or 100 Mbps fiber for less than twice the cost of 10 Mbps service in many areas.

Have you ruled out highly stable, fast and reliable fiber optic service because of sticker shock the last time you checked prices? Don’t miss out on the tremendous deals you can get on fiber optic bandwidth services right now. Get pricing and availability and see for yourself.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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