More and more companies are running out of bandwidth as demanding applications eat up every Mbps of LAN, MAN and WAN bandwidth they can access. Are you doomed to fight a losing battle or is there a good technical solution available?
More Bandwidth to the Rescue
Don’t expect to roll back the clock and be able to do business today and tomorrow with the connections you ordered yesterday. X.25 is long gone. T1 lines have about had their last hurrah. Ethernet over Copper is a temporary solution, at best, to buy you time for what you really need to do. That is, connect to the world via fiber optic bandwidth
But What About Cable?
Cable broadband, also called D3 or DOCSIS 3 for the technical standard, is actually a good solution for some applications. Just don’t kid yourself. That cable connection doesn’t really go very far until it hooks up with the cable company’s metro fiber plant. The junction box may be a few blocks away or it might be handing on the utility pole you can see from your office.
The same is true for T3 or DS3 bandwidth, the longstanding upgrade path from T1 lines. The connection to your equipment may be a pair of coaxial cables, but they only go out to the street. At they point they join up with a SONET fiber optic system owned and maintained by the local telephone company.
What’s Special About MetroE Fiber?
Ethernet is the newer and future-proof technology for carrying digital traffic on fiber optic systems. It is based on the same Ethernet standards used for your local area networks. Certain standards have been added to fit with carrier operations, but otherwise it is switched Ethernet.
That means the interface between your LAN and the carrier’s MAN or WAN is trivially simple. Just plug in and go, like you would with any router or switch. No special interface cards are needed. Chances are that the carrier who is providing your service will install a managed router at your business to define the network edge.
Metro vs Internet
Metro Ethernet, strictly speaking, is a network that serves a particular city or city plus suburbs. The most common use has been to interconnect business locations that are geographically close. These may include headquarters, data centers, warehouses and branch offices. Some companies choose to include suppliers and important customers on their MetroE network for high connection speed and security.
Metro Ethernet is a point to point or multipoint service that directly connects particular locations. You can elect to order ELAN service that actually extends your local network to the other locations. It’s just like you ran your own cables across town, but without the prohibitive expense of doing so.
The Internet is another animal. It’s actually a massive worldwide network made up of national, regional and city-wide networks that all agree to a common standard. Metro Ethernet is not the Internet, but it can connect to it. MetroE networks can also connect to each other over longer distances, especially when ordered through the same carrier.
Why Order Metro Ethernet?
You can think of Carrier Ethernet or Metro Ethernet as the new gold standard in telecommunications. It gives you high bandwidth connections that are easily scalable and low in latency, jitter and packet loss. You have exclusive use of the bandwidth you’ve ordered. It’s also generally covered by a service level agreement to ensure that you get the highest level of availability.
That’s important because the tradeoff between Metro Ethernet and Cable Broadband is not so much in the connection method. Cable provides you with a shared bandwidth service that varies in speed depending on how heavy the usage is. Service is generally on a “best effort” basis rather than any particular guarantees of performance or availability. Thus, the lower price for a given bandwidth level. Some businesses, especially smaller ones, find this tradeoff well worth making. Others with large user bases and critical applications may find that only dedicated service is acceptable.
By the way, many Cable companies also offer Metro Ethernet service on their fiber backbones. It’s a different class of service with a different pricing structure than the coax connected business broadband offering.
Is Metro Ethernet For You?
If you are running out of bandwidth or already at the limit, or simply want a service that can easily be upgraded in the future, you should take a serious look at Metro Ethernet for your business. You may be able to get a break on construction costs or even have them waived if you sign a long term contract, have high enough bandwidth requirements or can join forces with other business customers in your building. There are likely multiple carriers serving your area. Find out what each can offer with a set of competitive quotes for Metro Ethernet service now.