Comcast is best known as a Cable TV company or MSO (Multi-System Operator). They serve over 20 million residential and commercial customers in 40 states and the District of Columbia with video television, high speed Internet and telephone services. You may already know that Comcast broadband service is highly popular for home, home office and small business use. It comes in on a coaxial cable and is highly affordable. But did you also know that Comcast operates one of the largest fiber optic networks in the United States behind the scenes?
Many people think that cable companies still connect everything from their head-end towers and satellite dishes to locations around town using various size coax. That was true in the early days of analog TV cable systems and master antennas for large apartment buildings. The technology has long since moved on. Now everything is digital and the signals ride fiber optic cables most of the distance to your location. It’s that connection from the curb to your building that is still RG-6 coaxial copper wire.
Why? Because it works just fine and the cost of installation has already been paid. DOCSIS 3.0 modems offer broadband Internet in excess of 100 Mbps. That’s is well within the needs of most users. What’s really important to residential, home office and very small business users is low monthly cost combined with adequate performance. The shared asymmetrical bandwidth (higher download than upload speeds) and “best effort” performance is more than adequate for accessing the Internet and downloading documents, pictures and video.
Where HFC (Hybrid Fiber Cable) services run out of gas is when the need for bandwidth is high, dedicated low latency service is needed, symmetrical upload and download speeds are required, and an SLA (Service Level Agreement) is desired. These characteristics are common for traditional telecom services such as T1, DS3 and SONET fiber and the newer Ethernet services such as FastE at 100 Mbps, GigE at 1000 Mbps and 10 GigE at 10 Gbps.
What isn’t as well known is that Comcast operates an enterprise grade fiber optic core network to interconnect their many offices and provide high bandwidth connectivity to businesses. Would you be surprised to learn that Comcast operates a network that covers 147,000 fiber route miles? How about that business class services are available from 1 Mbps on up to 10 Gbps? Their business class services include dedicated Internet access, point to point Ethernet private lines, Ethernet LAN service to interconnect multiple business locations and converged layer 2 centric VPLS to support voice, video and data.
Comcast, like other major fiber optic carriers, recognizes the increasing demand for higher and higher bandwidth services. What’s driving these speed increases is more use of HD video, big data files and a rapid move to cloud computing services. The cloud, especially, present new challenges for businesses used to having all their processing in-house and connected over the corporate LAN. Cloud service providers offer the opportunity to rapidly scale resources up and down, pay only for what you use during the month, and avoid both capital investments and ongoing maintenance costs. The tradeoff is that you now need much higher and very reliable bandwidth to connect your employees to the cloud.
Comcast’s upgrade to 100 Gbps fiber optic bandwidth meets today’s perhaps tomorrow’s needs for their own use and in support of small, medium and large companies. When even this massive capability fills up, the Ciena system they’ve chosen has an upgrade path to 400 Gbps. It’s likely that we’ll see even higher speeds at 1 Tbps and beyond sooner than anyone expects.
Are you running short on bandwidth and wondering how much you can afford as an upgrade? Get multiple competitive fiber optic service quotes for Comcast Business and other high performance fiber optic carriers now. It’s likely that you can turn up your WAN bandwidth at little or no increase over your current monthly least cost.