The traditional service that supports this capacity is OC-3 SONET fiber optic bandwidth. Larger companies have used OC-3 for decades. What’s limited the number of companies that install this service has been high costs, at least in past years.
If you haven’t checked prices in a decade or even the last few years, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. OC-3 prices have plunged from the astronomical levels of years ago to something well within reason today. Medium size businesses and medical organizations, and many smaller high tech businesses where high bandwidth is essential, can now afford OC-3 bandwidth... but should they?
Besides the cost reductions for telecom services, something else has happened recently to give businesses options for 100 Mbps bandwidth. It’s the rise of competitive technology. Decades ago, it was OC-3 or nothing at all. Today, that is just one of several services that can get the job done. Let’s take a look at what else is available.
The biggest competition to SONET fiber optic services is now Ethernet over Fiber. The fiber optic pipes are the same. The signal that they are transporting is different. For you as a business owner or IT manager this makes no difference in the end. Both SONET and Ethernet technologies can carry the same traffic from place to place or to and from the Internet. However Ethernet has some advantages you should know about.
The most important is cost. Much of this is due to competition and some to the way networks are constructed. SONET is a telephone company developed technology. There is almost always a telephone company involved in delivering SONET. It might be for the entire span. Often, the last mile is handled by the local telco and the rest is provided by a competitive carrier.
Ethernet is different. Ethernet came out of the computer industry. It had nothing to do with telephones. In fact, Ethernet really gained prominence as a LAN, not a telecom, technology. It still forms the basis of nearly every installed local network. While the traditional local and long distance telephone companies have added Ethernet to their portfolios, other carriers have started up to gain share in this marketplace. Many built their networks around delivering Ethernet services and don’t even offer SONET.
One thing that’s different about Ethernet over Fiber is that the competitive carrier may handle service throughout the entire network. That includes the connection into your building. Multi-tenant office buildings are especially attractive because there is more than one customer to make it worthwhile to construct the fiber drop and termination equipment. Competitive carriers are aggressive about finding and connecting business locations before someone beats them to it. This helps to hold down prices for everyone in the industry... to your advantage.
Another approach to bandwidth delivery is to eliminate the wires altogether. That’s the domain of the microwave wireless companies. If you are in the right location, you may be able to get 100 Mbps bandwidth over a radio beam to a small antenna on your rooftop.
What’s the right location? It’s almost always in the downtown business district of a major metropolitan area. The microwave transmissions are strictly line of sight and limited in distance to a few kilometers. This means that there needs to be nothing but air between your building and the provider’s tower. For financial services companies, corporation headquarters and other downtown locations, this may be no problem at all. If so, you may be able to get the bandwidth you need installed very rapidly with little or no construction cost.
All of these services are also known as symmetrical dedicated bandwidth. OC-3 is actually 155 Mbps. Fast Ethernet is 100 Mbps with many other service levels available. The symmetrical part means that the upload and download speeds are the same. 100 x 100 Mbps means 100 Mbps upload and 100 Mbps download. Dedicated means that the bandwidth is constructed for your use only. Whatever you don’t use sits idle until you do.
Some companies don’t need this level of performance, especially if all they want to do is access the Internet the way you would at home. These companies can save even more money by going with an asymmetrical shared bandwidth service. As example would be a coaxial cable connection that offers up to 100 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds. Your actual speed at any given time depends on what other users are doing because the bandwidth is in a pool shared by multiple subscribers.
Are you feeling pressed for increased bandwidth but concerned about price and availability? You may have more options than you suspect. Get prices and availability for high bandwidth providers that service your business location.