Fiber optic bandwidth service is becoming a staple of modern business. Yet, not everyone has it. Some businesses are just too small to make good use of the 10 Mbps+ bandwidth available over fiber and are happy to stick with T1 lines or lower speed Ethernet over Copper service. Some businesses remember the high prices they encountered when they last checked fiber service pricing and don’t know how much more affordable it is now. Many others could easily get fiber but don’t know that it is already in their building or right next door.
Fiber optic bandwidth isn’t the esoteric product it used to be. Now even consumers are demanding fiber to the premises (FTTP) to support high definition television and on-demand video. Businesses moving to the cloud are finding that the old connectivity doesn’t cut it anymore. Only fiber has the capacity combined with low latency, jitter and packet loss to give you efficient connections with your cloud services. If you are in the video production or distribution business or need to transport large volumes of medical images, then fiber is pretty much a given.
So, how do you go about getting fiber optic service for your business without breaking the bank? You start by finding out what’s readily available to you. If the building you are in already has one or more fiber optic lines pulled-in and connected then it is said to be “lit.” A lit building almost guarantees that you’ll be able to order fiber optic service. The hard work has already been done. What costs a bundle is the construction required to run the fiber optic cable from the carrier’s closest point of presence overhead or underground to your facility and hook up the termination equipment in the telecom room.
Unlike twisted copper pair, even a single optical fiber has tremendous capacity. Right now 10 Gbps is typical, although that can be multiplied using multiple lasers transmitting at different frequencies or wavelengths down the same fiber. This is called DWDM or Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing. If you like, you can generally lease an entire wavelength yourself. It’s an optical private line. You own the total capacity to use as you wish.
Most often, you’ll want a lower level service standardized under SONET (Synchronous Optical NETwork) or Ethernet over Fiber (EoF). These services can give you a fraction of the total capacity of the fiber at a small fraction of the cost. Bandwidth can be cost effective at as little as 10 Mbps for EoF and can easily be scaled up to 100 or even 1,000 Mbps and up to 10 Gbps.
One thing to know about lit buildings is that generally they are lit by just one carrier. That carrier will provide service to everyone in the building. You need to find out who that is and what services they have to offer.
What if no carrier has lit your building yet? Surprisingly, that’s still true for the majority of business buildings, even at this late date. In that case you want to know who has lit buildings closest to yours. Why? It’s because the cost of constructing fiber is a function of distance. It’s a lot cheaper if you only have to connect next door than if you have to reach down the block. It’s much less expensive than if the closest fiber is a mile or more away.
If your building is lit, then it is considered to be on network or “on-net”. If you are not receiving service, then you are “off-net.” As you can imagine, there is a clear price difference between facilities that are on and off-net. If you are off-net but close to a building that is on-net, then you are considered to be “near-net.” This is a good position to be in because it is generally very practical to get new fiber optic service into near-net buildings.
This all makes sense, but how do you know if you are on, off or near a fiber network and which carrier or carriers are involved? That’s a daunting task to do as an individual if all you have is a telephone and a copy of the Yellow Pages. Even a web search will give you some possible carriers, but not all of them, and it won’t tell you anything about your network status. Fortunately, there is a specialized search tool that specifically locates fiber optic services for any given location.
This is the patented Telarus GeoQuote software that you can access for free. You simply enter your business address and the system will search its database to provide you a map and list of nearby fiber optic locations. It’s all automated and can be accessed from any web browser anytime, day or night. There’s no obligation, but you do have the option of having a telecom brokerage consultant give you the latest competitive pricing for options that apply to your location. The one limitation is that this service only works for business addresses and is not for residential users.
Are you ready for a pleasant surprise? Go ahead and check your business location for available fiber optic services. Even if you’ve done some research on your own lately, you may well find options that you didn’t even know were available.