Why bother mapping out Ethernet availability? This service is so new that it is not yet universally available. You can call up just about any major carrier and ask about T1 service with the expectation that you can get one or more T1 lines anytime you want them. If you want Metro Ethernet, however, you may well find that your usual provider has no Ethernet capability as of yet or that they don’t service your business location.
Besides the newness of the service, there are a couple of other tricky aspects to Metro E. First, there are several methods of providing service. High bandwidth connections, say 50 Mbps and above, almost always require fiber optic lines. It is estimated that fewer than 30% of all business locations are currently “lit” for fiber optic service. If you don’t have it, or have service from a carrier that only deals in the older SONET protocol, there may be costs and/or time delays in getting your building connected.
Your odds of getting the Metro Ethernet service you want increase dramatically when you include a multitude of competitive service providers in your assessment. The problem is that the time honored ways of looking for service providers in the phone book or industrial directories may miss many good opportunities. What you really want is a service that specializes in business bandwidth. That service is readily available at no cost through a bandwidth services broker.
One of the best in the business is Telarus, Inc. They’ve made available a self-service mapping tool called GeoQuote (tm). The GeoQuote search requires only some basic location information such as street address, city and state of the location you want to check. The patented system then searches a massive database and even accesses carrier IT systems to gather information on the Ethernet services at or near your building. The results are presented on a standard street map plus a listing of distance and capability of each service available. If you wish, you can then go on to get a detailed real-time price quote by entering your contact information.
By knowing where high bandwidth fiber is already installed, you can then get competitive quotes and see just what the construction costs are. You may get lucky and find that your building is “on-net” for one or more providers. That means there is already fiber in the building and it only has to be installed to your offices.
What if there is no fiber nearby? You may still be able to get Ethernet bandwidths from 3 to 50 Mbps using a technology called “Ethernet over Copper (EoC).” This service uses the same twisted pair telco wiring that bring in multi-line phone service and T1. The technology is a bit different and requires that the central office where your copper lines are connected has the specialized interface equipment needed for EoC. Many, many COs now have that capability. The speed of the service depends highly on how far you are away from the CO. If you are located nearby, you can get EoC bandwidth that rivals entry level fiber services. If farther away, you may be limited to 10 or 20 Mbps or not be able to get service at all.
Even if Ethernet over Copper is unavailable, there is a chance that a related technology called EoDS1 can work for your situation. This involves using multiple T1 lines to bring in the Ethernet signal. Distance isn’t an issue for this approach, although you are limited to 10 or 12 Mbps max.
Are you curious now about the fiber and copper based Ethernet services available to your business? Try using the GeoQuote instant Metro Ethernet provider maps and get complete price quotes for each competitive service.