This is good news for any business moving to cloud computing or inherently large bandwidth users, such as medical centers, content creators and providers, and Internet service providers. The option to use T-carrier or other wireline services isn’t really an option anymore. What you need is a fiber optic connection.
Fiber connections come in several flavors. Your options include traditional SONET service, Ethernet over Fiber, and shared bandwidth service.
SONET is the original fiber optic standard. It was developed by the telephone companies for their own use in transporting massive numbers of telephone calls. As computers became the big users of bandwidth, SONET was made available to businesses as a point to point connection or high speed Internet access.
SONET is actually an acronym for Synchronous Optical NETwork. It’s a synchronous protocol organized as time slots rather than packets. Today’s packet oriented networks need a SONET interface to perform the protocol conversion necessary to load and unload packets into the SONET time slots.
That interface is generally in the form of a card or module that plugs in the back of your router. You need to choose the proper interface to match the speed of the service. SONET comes in discrete bandwidth levels that include 155 Mbps (OC-3), 622 Mbps (OC-12), 1.2 Gbps (OC-24), 2.4 Gbps (OC-48), 10 Gbps (OC-192) and 40 Gbps (OC-768). Each speed level requires a specifically designed interface module, although you can sometimes get fractional speed levels. For instance, you may be able to order OC-12 service that is capable of running at 622 Mbps but have the bandwidth rate limited to 300 Mbps. That saves you money on your telecom expenses until you need the full 622 Mbps.
SONET has been in service the longest of the high speed fiber technologies and forms the backbone of many regional and nationwide fiber optic networks. It is also readily available, especially in major metropolitan areas.
What competes head to head with SONET is Ethernet over Fiber (EoF). This is the Ethernet protocol, directly compatible with your LAN. The handoff from the bandwidth provider is a standard Ethernet connection that plugs right into your router.
Why choose Ethernet? In addition to avoiding protocol conversions between the LAN and WAN, Ethernet services are highly scalable. The speed of the port installed at your business location determines the maximum bandwidth. If you have a Gigabit Ethernet port, a very common installation, you can choose just about any bandwidth up to 1000 Mbps and make changes without having to replace any equipment. Start with what you need today and then upgrade as needed with a simple call to your provider.
Another reason to pick Ethernet over Fiber is that it supports standardized Carrier Ethernet services such as E-Line and E-LAN. E-Line is a point to point connection. E-LAN is a meshed multi-location network. Both E-Line and E-LAN can be set up to run at the layer 2 switching level so that you can interconnect multiple LANs as one large bridged network. These LAN locations can be anywhere in the country and even include international destinations.
Finally EoF tends to be a lower cost service than SONET on a per-Mbps basis. SONET prices have dropped dramatically over the last few years, but Ethernet still tends to be considerably cheaper. The only limitation is that SONET may be more readily available at your location.
The final choice is shared bandwidth. This is the cheapest WAN connection of all, priced at just a fraction of similar SONET or Carrier Ethernet solutions. The tradeoff is that you are sharing a pool of bandwidth with many other users. The bandwidth you have available at any given moment can vary all over the place. Also, shared bandwidth services tend to be asymmetrical. The download speed is much higher than the upload speed. This works fine if all you need is access to the Internet for your employees. It may fall short if you upload many files, need a highly responsive connection to cloud services or use your high bandwidth service for remote backup and recovery.
Are you in need of higher business bandwidth connection but concerned about the expense? Get competitive quotes on SONET and Carrier Ethernet options and see how many different options are available for your business locations.