The answer to big bandwidth demands is big bandwidth services. T1 lines were left in the dust years ago. Many companies thought that moving up to DS3 bandwidth at 45 Mbps would keep them in good stead for the foreseeable future. That future came sooner than foreseen. While Ethernet over Copper and fixed wireless can give you 50 or 100 Mbps of reliable symmetrical bandwidth, they’re also being left in the dust. What remains? Fiber optic WAN services in both SONET and Ethernet flavors.
SONET is the grandaddy of fiber optic bandwidth. It’s a standard developed by the telephone companies for transmitting or “trunking” large bundles of telephone calls between switching centers and overseas. Options begin at OC-3 with 155 Mbps. If that’s not enough, then OC-12 at 622 Mbps is the next step up. OC-24 offers 1.2 Gbps, but isn’t so widely available. You may be required to take OC-48 at 2.4 Gbps. In some cases, you’ll be able to contract for OC-192 at 10 Gbps or even OC-768 for 40 Gbps. Those are usually reserved for network operators themselves, but are now becoming more available to businesses.
So that solves the bandwidth dilemma, right? It would except for budget constraints. OCx SONET services have traditionally been pretty pricey. Those costs have plunged in recent years due to increased competition, but the need for bandwidth is expanding faster than corporate budgets. Fortunately, there is another alternative. That’s Ethernet over Fiber.
EoF, as it’s called for short, has some real advantages over traditional SONET optical carrier services. First of all, it’s Ethernet. Yes, the same Ethernet that runs on your local network but extended so that it can reach across town or even around the world. That makes interfacing easy and efficient. There’s also the cost factor.
Ethernet over Fiber typically costs a fraction of what you pay per Mbps for equivalent SONET bandwidth. A lot of this has to do with competition that has come into the market after deregulation of the phone companies. With SONET, you almost always have the local phone company involved in running the last mile connection. Ethernet has been adopted by newer competitive carriers who operate their own fiber networks, including owning the fiber. They can run a drop from their closest point of presence (POP) to your building and give you just about any bandwidth you require.
Not only are these carriers hungry for business, they have a much wider range of bandwidth options at their fingertips. Carrier Ethernet, as it is called, was designed from the get-go for ease of scalability. SONET has fixed bandwidth levels known generically as OCx. Each OC level has its own interface requirements and they don’t intermix. If you want to jump to the next level, the service provider will have to roll a truck and plug in a different module. They may also have some changes to make in their network to ensure they can deliver the contracted bandwidth.
Contrast that with Ethernet over Fiber. The interface to your equipment is called a “port”. A port has a maximum speed that it can run but no lower limit. You could install a 10 Mbps Ethernet port, but today’s practice is to install a 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet port or a 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet port. With a GigE port, you can order, say, 200 Mbps now and know that you can ramp up to 500 Mbps or even 1000 Mbps with little more than a phone call. In fact, it takes just hours to a few days to increase your line speed. Compare that to traditional practice that can require weeks or months.
Installation is still a consideration. Many business locations are still not connected to any fiber optic carrier. That doesn’t mean they can’t be. Metro Ethernet Networks are expanding rapidly, especially in larger business districts. Even if you couldn’t get anything last year, you might have a couple of providers to pick from this year. You’ll almost certainly be served if your equipment is in a colocation center or you are renting cloud computing services. All of these data centers are served by multiple fiber optic bandwidth providers. That gives you the option of moving your demanding applications to where the bandwidth is readily available and then connecting back your facility with a lower but adequate speed service like Ethernet over Copper.
Another strategy is to get together with other tenants in your office building or park to woo a fiber carrier who might not otherwise think the investment is worth it. With multiple clients all ready to commit to fiber bandwidth, the combined capacity can lure service providers to run a drop to your facility where each customer can connect their equipment to the provider's edge router. You might even get a substantial break on construction costs or pay nothing at all if the commitment is high enough.
Are you interested in more bandwidth for your business? If so, check options and get free consultation on what’s available in high bandwidth fiber optic network services.