Thursday, November 17, 2022

Ethernet Replacements For SONET

By: John Shepler

High bandwidth fiber optic Wide Area Networks have their basis in a decades old telephone company standard called SONET. Highly reliable, but highly expensive, SONET is giving way to the newer technology of Ethernet WAN. As demand for business bandwidth keeps increasing, so does the attractiveness of Ethernet for long distance connections.

Get competitive quotes on Ethernet fiber optic WAN service.Why SONET Ruled For So Long
SONET or Synchronous Optical Network was born out of a burgeoning demand for higher and higher levels of traffic. In this case, the traffic was long distance telephone calls. In the early days of telephony, this demand was met with dense webs of overhead copper lines.

Multi-channel analog technology made it possible for each copper pair to carry many phone conservations on a carrier-based system, much like many radio stations in a single band.

Digital technology eliminated the noise and crosstalk of carrier telephony by converting the analog conversations to pulse coded digital streams and multiplexing many together on a single pair. The transmission medium was still copper wire.

One thing about phone company standards is that they are all backwards compatible down to a single phone line. After all, that’s the telco business. So, the digital T1 lines were actually carrying 24 separate phone calls. A T3 line was 28 T1 lines or 672 phone calls.

When the fiber optic standard was developed, it picked up where copper left off. The OC3 SONET line is 155 Mbps and is equivalent to three T3 lines. Within all those multiplexed channels is the same 64 Kbps voice channel to support one phone call.

How did we get from really big phone lines to data transmission? Basically, SONET was the only game in town if you needed large amounts of bandwidth. So, all those voice channels in the line were combined to create one large data channel to carry packets of information. That requires protocol conversion circuitry to go from Ethernet network protocol to SONET telephone line protocol.

This works beautifully, but there are a few issues. For one thing, SONET levels are very specific and not scalable. If you want to move up from, say, a 155 Mbps OC3 to a 622 Mbps OC-12, you’ll at least need to swap out the termination controller or interface card in your router. Also, since analog phone traffic is now trivial compared to packet based data traffic, wouldn’t it be more efficient to just keep everything Ethernet from end to end? Indeed, it would.

Ethernet Replacements For SONET
Most competitive carriers and even many of the traditional telecom companies have adopted Ethernet as their network standard, as that’s where the traffic is. As a result, you can find much better pricing for Ethernet circuits than for traditional SONET. Ethernet WAN is also highly scalable. If you install a Gigabit Ethernet port, you can order service at any bandwidth level up to 1 Gbps. That covers OC-3 at 155 Mbps, OC-12 at 622 Mbps and pretty much OC-24 at 1.2 Gbps.

No hardware changes are needed until you require more 1 Gbps. At that point you may install a 10 Gbps port which will cover OC-24, plus OC-48 at 2.5 Gbps and OC-192 at 10 Gbps. Today, 100 Gbps is becoming more and more available to take the place of OC-768 at 40 Gbps.

If you are looking to upgrade your fiber optic WAN connections or are just curious about how much you might save by switching from SONET to Ethernet WAN service, you can easily get a set of competitive quotes from multiple service providers with no obligation. That applies to private line services, including cloud communications, as well as dedicated Internet access. Now would be a good time to make that inquiry.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Connectivity You Need For Digital Transformation

By: John Shepler

Most every business is now in some phase of digital transformation. It’s the process of moving from analog mechanical and paper based operations to digital and online processes. The promise of this transformation is faster and more efficient business methods that save cost and expand your customer base. But, what do you need to put in place to support this digital transformation?

Get the connectivity you need for digital transformation.Plan on Doing Most Everything Online
While most products and services are not digital, the tools to support them now are. Everything from finding prospects to converting prospects to customers, servicing those customers and keeping the products flowing has a digital element to it. The Internet is now the hub of operation for many businesses. Others may be local and walk-in for the most part, but may have an online presence and accounting or other processes in the cloud.

What makes the Internet so compelling is that after a decades of development, it is largely in-place, paid for, and ubiquitous. People who don’t even have bank accounts do have smartphones with Internet apps that allow them to buy, sell and get paid. While there are challenges, especially in the area of security, the Internet is a must for most companies.

Start With High Speed Reliable Internet Access
You’ll need a solid connection to the online world. It will have to be fast enough to be transparent to you and your customers, always available, and have a minimum of latency, jitter and packet loss. The best connections are the ones you never have to think about. That customer on the other side of town or the other side of the world will seem as close as someone in the next office.

There are basically two types of broadband connections. One is called Dedicated Internet Access. The other is Shared Internet access.

Dedicated Internet Access, particularly with symmetrical bandwidth that gives you the same speed uploading as downloading is the gold standard. While the Internet is certainly a shared resource, most of the congestion and outages occur in that “last mile” between you and your service provider. Dedicated connections give you a private road to the Internet. You always have the bandwidth you are paying for, whether you are using it every second or not.

Shared Internet Access is just that. A service provider leases a dedicated access line and then divides it up among many users. If the speed is high enough and there aren’t so many users demanding the same bandwidth simultaneously, you may not even know you are sharing. Sometimes, though, everybody wants to download videos or large files and things slow down. Then, like every traffic jam, they just as mysteriously dissipate and everything is back to normal.

The advantage of dedicated access is performance. The advantage of shared access is cost. Shared services such as cellular and cable broadband can cost a fraction of what a similar speed dedicated fiber or fixed wireless access service costs.

A Hybrid Approach to Increase Reliability and Lower Cost
There is also a third option that has been recently developed. That is the Software Defined Network (SDN) or Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). What these systems do is take multiple Internet connections and bond them together so that you get one higher capacity, lower latency and more reliable connection. A SD-WAN box can combine a cable broadband line, a cellular broadband modem, and a small fiber optic service. Even satellite and landlines can be included. The software in the controller monitors each line constantly and selects the most appropriate for every packet.

With SD-WAN, your most sensitive applications, such as telephone and conference calling, get the highest priority for speed, latency and jitter. Business process are next in line. Less sensitive needs, like remote backups, get the lowest priority because a few seconds here and there probably won’t make any difference. SD-WAN can save you money compared to one very large fiber line that you can’t keep busy or perhaps can’t even get installed. It is also a lifesaver when one line is accidentally cut or has an equipment failure. SD-WAN will simply use the other connections to keep things running seamlessly.

Don’t Forget Your Cloud Connections
Your main office, store or factory connection to the Internet is critical, but so are the connections for your cloud based operations. Once those servers and applications leave the premises to be co-located elsewhere or run in a public or hybrid cloud, they need the same reliable and transparent connectivity you had in-house.

There are two connections to be concerned with. The first is the connection between you and the cloud. This may be the same Internet access you use for everything else, but for business critical operations you may want to consider a dedicated private line between your office and the colocation center or cloud service provider. This bypasses the Internet completely and gives you much greater control of your traffic since nothing is shared outside of your business.

The other connection of importance is the connection between the remote servers in the colo center or cloud and the outside world. For this you want the same high performance Internet access with enough bandwidth, low latency and minimal jitter and packet loss. Fortunately, this quality of service is easy to find for colo and cloud, as they deal in massive amounts of bandwidth on a regular basis.

Are you properly connected for digital transformation? That old DSL line or bandwidth limited T1 probably won’t get the job done anymore. Consider an upgrade to highly reliable fiber or wireless broadband for your business. Recent buildouts have made this much more affordable than you might expect.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Two Internet Connections For Consistent Phone Calls

There are forces at work changing the way business phone systems connect. Plain old analog telephone service and traditional PBX switching systems are giving way to mobility, computer integration and cloud services that bear little resemblance to Alexander Graham Bell’s network of the last century. The new features can greatly enhance business performance… as long as the fundamentals of high quality robust voice communications aren't lost. Can we have both advanced technologies and quality of service?

Get higher quality phone calls with SD-WANWe have to. There’s really no going back. If you are still tethered to an analog twisted pair or ISDN PRI, obsolescence is coming for you… and soon. It’s time to embrace digital voice and the cloud services that it enables.

What’s The Internet Got to Do With It?
Telephone networks were purpose built for telephone sets. When the Internet started, it glommed onto the phone network with dial-up modems because that was the only universal connectivity available. Fast forward to today and the Internet has moved on to high bandwidth fiber optics as a core network and last mile connectivity. Mobile telephony has developed its own wireless cellular system. That leaves the original phone network to rust in peace.

Business telephones are connecting more and more to the company IT network rather than run a separate phone network based on legacy wiring technology. For those calls to leave the company and connect to the greater world, a decision has to be made. Do you install a PBX system that connects those internal phone sets directly to the phone company using telco lines, or stick with the digital network system and connect to a phone service supplier via a dedicated private line or the Internet?

The Internet is a compelling answer. It has already been built-out to interconnect just about everybody, everywhere. Costs to reach them are as low as you can get. You already use the Internet and probably cloud business services for computer applications and file transfers. Why not let your phone calls ride along on the same network?

The fly in the ointment is that voice calls don’t have the robustness that file transfers enjoy. If the connection slows down a bit or gets little jittery, the data will get through just fine. The voice on the other end of the phone calls will cut in and out, become garbled or just disconnect. That’s unacceptable for business and a major impediment to adopting VoIP telephone systems.

How to Fix the Internet for Phone Calls
A solution to getting high quality business phone service along with the benefits of digital telephony is called SD-WAN. A WAN or Wide Area Network is any connection, such as the Internet, that goes outside your business. The SD part is called Software Defined. That means adding intelligence into the WAN connections to manage sensitive traffic for quality and reliability.

The most basic operation of SD-WAN appliances is to combine two or more WAN connections. That can be two broadband Internet lines, such as Cable, DSL, fiber, T1, 4G LTE or 5G cellular, or fixed wireless access.

The idea is that every connection has it own performance characteristics and variations that are different from other types of connections. That’s typical of the Internet. It varies all over the place from instant to instant, but not on all connections at the same time.

The SD-WAN appliance constantly monitors the characteristics of each connection. What is the speed, packet loss and jitter? Has the line gone dead or so congested it might as well be? With two or more lines to choose from, SD-WAN can route packet by packet through the best connection at each moment. Phone calls get priority over your other traffic so they get the absolutely best connectivity at all times.

There are other intelligent features that are also running to ensure voice quality. Forward error correction duplicates each voice packet so if one is lost, the other can take its place at the far end. That gets rid of a lot of the choppiness you hear in digital phone calls. Calls are also smoothed out using dynamic jitter buffering that collects the packets and delivers them smoothly in spite of variances in transmission time.

How about security? The Internet is notorious for terrible security issues compared to private lines and the traditional PSTN phone network. By encoding the voice streams and including a firewall and other intrusion preventing measures, even the Internet can be made acceptably secure.

SD-WAN Also Improves Your Other Applications
What helps improve voice calls is also a major benefit for all your network traffic over the Internet. As companies move more and more applications to the cloud, robust connectivity is becoming essential to productivity and customer satisfaction. SD-WAN can make all of your Internet interactions faster, smoother and more reliable. It comes down to having enough high quality links for the system to always have solid connections. Those links will be used efficiently since lower demanding traffic, such as backups and low priority file transfers, can traverse even slower and more jittery connections.

Are you frustrated with the quality and performance of your current business phone system or face disconnection of legacy services? If so, find out what high quality enterprise VoIP and Universal Communications options are available for your business.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Metro and Long Haul Dark Fiber

By: John Shepler

High performance companies with diverse locations and significant staffing may get to the point where the usual Internet access and private line offerings just won’t get the job done anymore. At that point, you may wish to take total control of your network so that you can set the standard for performance and make upgrades as quickly as they are needed.

Sounds good, but how are you going to exercise the same control over a network that leaves your premises as you do within your facilities? Get into the network provider business yourself and install fiber to each of your facilities? Hardly. That would be cost prohibitive and way too time consuming. There’s a more reasonable approach, and that is to lease dark fiber.

Find dark fiber for your high bandwidth needs now.What is Dark Fiber?
We’re all familiar with fiber optic cables and the reliable high speed connectivity they provide. Most incumbent and competitive telecom companies now offer a wide range of bandwidth options within their service areas. Even traditional Cable companies are offering connections to their core network as an alternative to the coaxial copper drops. What is less known is that nearly all of these companies have extra fibers available within their bundles for spares, expansion and leasing. These fibers sit unlit, not installed to any network equipment.

Think about it. If you can lease a strand of dark fiber that runs very near to your business locations, it’s almost like you installed the fiber cable yourself. You pay a provider who has already gone to the trouble of installing this fiber and it is already in place. It was likely much less costly for them to do this than it would be for you, because they install many other fiber strands in the same conduit at the same time. Those strands won’t have any effect on your usage.

With dark fiber, you get access to the unlit fiber strand. You’ll need the expertise to select and install the termination equipment, but that is much easier than having to hire or contract with crews to trench the fiber conduits and negotiate the right of ways.

There Are Two Types of Dark Fiber
Dark fiber comes in two varieties, although they are closely related. The first is Metro dark fiber that is installed in cities and their related suburbs. It may be installed on poles above ground or in underground conduit. Metro fiber tends to be installed in large bundles, as there is a lot of demand for fiber optic connectivity within metropolitan areas.

The other variety of dark fiber is called long haul dark fiber. This is the fiber that runs between cities to designated points of presence. With long haul fiber, you can span the country to connect your regional offices and factories. Long haul fiber tends to use smaller glass core single mode fiber which can limit the transmission rate. It’s a tradeoff of capacity for distance.

If all of your connection requirements are within a single city, Metro dark fiber will likely get the job done. If you need to connect between cities you’ll probably need a combination of Metro and long haul dark fiber.

Dark Fiber Alternative
Dark fiber requires a budget and level of expertise that not every company can commit to, even though the control, scalability, and security are very attractive features. A related service is called dark wavelength. It is commonplace to “light” a fiber strand with a spectrum of discrete frequency lasers to create independent wavelengths or lambdas. In effect, the fiber strand becomes a set of non-interfering sub-fibers all multiplexed on the same physical strand. It is possible to lease a wavelength instead of a whole fiber at a lower cost. You still have control of the protocols used on that wavelength and it is solely dedicated to your use. If this will work for you, a dark wavelength can both save money and give you the connectivity you desire in areas when an entire strand might not be available.

Do you have a need that exceeds the typical ISP or dedicated fiber optic bandwidth service offerings? If so, explore the possibility of leasing a dark fiber or dark wavelength now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Copper Decommissioning Expands Demand for Metro Ethernet

By: John Shepler

If you are still getting by with last mile Internet over DSL, T1 lines, or Ethernet over Copper, you should take a serious look at Metro Ethernet over Fiber. You’ll get more bandwidth, better pricing and… it will continue to be available.

Metro Ethernet gives you the bandwidth you need at an affordable price.Copper Decommissioning is Now
Copper based telecom services have been the go-to technology for the last century, but not this century. The ubiquitous twisted pair telephone line has supported our needs from the introduction of the telephone through the fevered growth of the commercial Internet. But, like cellphones the size of a brick, the technology has run its course. Copper just can’t keep up with today’s and tomorrow’s needs.

The phone companies know this. The network operators know this. They are well aware that we are way past “peak copper”. As you read this, copper lines nationwide are being retired or “decommissioned”. In some cases the copper is physically ripped out of conduits so that fiber optic cables can be pulled right back in. In other cases the copper bundles in the ground are simply disconnected and left to rust away on their own. In the coming years there will be fewer and fewer copper options available to order, until a copper wireline is as rare as a cranked telephone set.

Fiber is the Future AND the Present
The replacements for copper telco right now are Cable in the form of hybrid fiber/copper systems, Fixed Wireless Access, and Fiber Optic bandwidth. Fiber in cities is also called Metro Fiber or Metro Ethernet. Most urban, suburban and even small town businesses now have access to Metro Ethernet and its flexible options.

Fiber is your most flexible option for several reasons. First, fiber optic strands offer extremely high bandwidths, to 10 Gbps or more. With wavelength division multiplexing, you might get a dozen or more 10 Gbps lambdas, each a virtual fiber in itself. Now, consider that nearly all fiber cables have multiple strands, even dozens, and you can see how fiber bandwidth is nearly unlimited. Once installed, that fiber will likely last as long as you need.

Second, fiber, unlike cable or most wireless, can provide exclusive dedicated line services. You can order private point to point connections and have all of the bandwidth available for your traffic. Compare that to the consumer-oriented broadband services that share bandwidth among many users to keep the cost down. With dedicated Internet access or private point to point lines, you won’t be competing with everybody else for limited resources at high traffic times. This can be especially valuable in connecting your network to a distant cloud provider that hosts business critical applications.

In addition to massive available bandwidth, fiber service is also very scalable. You can typically start off as low as 10 Mbps at pricing comparable with a current T1 line, but with over 6x the bandwidth. Many smaller businesses find that 100 Mbps is plenty, but Gigabit bandwidth is easy to come by and very affordable. If your applications demand it or your workforce is substantial, 10 Gbps is easily available on fiber. Even 100 Gbps is now being offered to larger companies and hospital complexes, content developers, etc.

Why Ethernet over Fiber
The earlier implementations of fiber optic service were based on a telephone company standard called SONET that offered fixed bandwidth levels and was designed for voice calls, not data. While protocol conversion circuitry made SONET the backbone of the Internet, Carrier Ethernet is now the standard to be embraced. This is the same switched Ethernet that runs on your local network, but extended to transport packets over hundreds or thousands of miles.

Metro Ethernet uses the Carrier Ethernet standard running over fiber optic cabling. This makes it virtually plug-and-play with your network. You can even set it up so that your business locations all over the state or country act like they are on one big network. Metro Fiber Ethernet is the new standard for business connections. Network connections within the metro area are often referred to as MAN or Metropolitan Area Network, while those more distant are referred to as WAN or Wide Area Network.

Are you ready to replace aging T1, DS3, DSL or other network services with something more modern that is future-proof and likely less expensive? Check your Metro Fiber Ethernet options for one or more business locations now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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