Thursday, May 25, 2023

Bandwidth Without Usage Metering

By: John Shepler

Perhaps the most unpleasant experience of broadband is hitting your data cap. You may have forgotten it was even there. But, like the cop hiding behind the highway billboard, it pops out at the most inconvenient times and, boy, are you in trouble. Let’s have a look at what data limits are all about and what you can do to avoid hitting them.

Avoid data usage limits with dedicated Internet access and private lines.Where Did Usage Metering Come From?
The big problem is scarcity. Bandwidth is like electricity. If we had unlimited amounts at minimal costs, there would be no need to meter it or even limit your line speed. Such is not the case.

Take 5G cellular for instance. The demand for Internet broadband has always been way ahead of capacity buildout for the cellular networks. 2G was pitiful. 3G was still bandwidth starved. 4G LTE greatly improved on cellular capacity to the point that most people didn’t run out before the end of the month.

5G offers the promise of billions of “things” all communicating autonomously and people using fixed wireless from their cellular provider to replace services like DSL, cable and T1 lines.

Have you been watching what is happing with 5G? There is a mad scramble to build towers, feed them with fiber optic cables or microwave backhaul, and lobby the government to assign more and more of the limited radio spectrum to high speed Internet. It’s cellular vs satellite vs independent WISPs (Wireless Internet Service Providers) vs television vs government vs everybody else to grab as much bandwidth as possible.

Why? The amount of spectrum you can press into service determines the speed of your connection and the amount of data to divvy up among users. Thus the feeding frenzy among service providers.

Even wireline and fiber optic services have their limits. Twisted pair landlines are pretty pokey by today’s standards and fiber optic requires a huge capital investment. A fiber bundle has enormous capacity, but only where the fiber has been run. It doesn’t blanket an area like wireless does. Each location needs its own fiber connection.

How Carriers Allot Their Capacity
All bandwidth services have limited capacity. Wireless has the most constraints because the electromagnetic spectrum has only so much available in the popular frequencies that travel reasonable distances and penetrate walls. Fiber and HFC (Hybrid Fiber Cable) is less constrained but has high costs to build out.

Carriers divvy up their capacity and sell it to users by slicing and dicing what they have. The two limitations that they put on users are speed in Mbps or Gbps and usage in total Gigabytes. Speed determines how much of the total bandwidth you can use at any given moment. Total capacity limits keep a few high data users from uploading and downloading continuously so that other’s can’t get online.

You see, the price you pay for Internet access is much less if the carrier can assume that you aren’t sending or receiving all the time. Much of the time you may not even be accessing remote servers. When you do, you’ll send or receive a certain bundle of data and then pause before doing more. By allowing many customers to share one big line, providers can give everyone reliable access at greatly reduced cost. That’s the principle behind cable broadband, satellite services, and cellular broadband.

In practice, this works well for consumers and many smaller businesses. They just don’t need to be sending enormous files one right after the other. On cable, you may never hit your allotted limit or even know what it is. With cellular and satellite, you may have and “unlimited” plan, but just try continuously streaming video or doing massive data transfers and you’ll run into what the carriers call “fair use” provisions. Yes, there are limits to unlimited plans.

What happens if you consume more that your “fair share”? Your service provider may choose to simply issue a warning, or may slow your speed so you can’t hog so much of their capacity. Or they may charge you for extra GBs of usage. Worst case, they’ll simply cut off your service until the next month’s billing cycle begins.

How to Avoid Usage Metering
Medium and larger businesses and heavy Internet using companies with cloud services and remote backup storage may well exceed even the most generous fair use quotas. The best option then is to order services that aren’t metered at all. Those tend to be private lines and dedicated Internet access.

Dedicated lines without usage metering give you two advantages. First, you are not sharing with other companies or residential users. The capacity of the channel is yours and yours alone. If you order a Gigabit Dedicated Internet Access fiber service, you can feed it traffic continuously and nobody is going to complain. Plus the speed of your service won’t vary with competing traffic, because you have sole usage. This is particularly valuable with business critical applications and real-time services like video conferencing that run in the cloud.

A private line is like dedicated access except that the Internet is never involved. You connect point to point or in a private mesh network where others cannot interfere. Even the core Internet gets congested from time to time. Your private lines are like private superhighways. Your traffic, and yours alone, is what is carried. If you are using cloud services extensively, consider a direct line from your business to your cloud provider for the highest performance.

Have you been hitting the limits of your Internet service or being warned by your provider that they may heavily up-charge you or cut off access? Consider the advantages of ordering dedicated private lines and dedicated Internet access without usage limits to keep your business running smoothly.

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

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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

5G Fixed Wireless Fills the Copper Gap

By: John Shepler

For almost a century and a half, twisted pair copper wiring has been the way telecom services were delivered. This ranges from classic plain old telephone service, to T1 digital lines for Internet access and point to point private connections. Copper, however, is on the way out. If you haven’t run up against its bandwidth limitations yet, you may still have a problem if your local telephone company (who owns all the copper lines) decides to discontinue service. Then what?

Find 5G Fixed Wireless Access for your business broadband.What Replaces Copper Lines?
When it comes to bandwidth, fiber optic cables can’t be beat. You can order any bandwidth from 10 Mbps up to 10 Gbps, and even 100 Gbps in many locations. Hybrid Fiber Cable, commonly known as cable broadband, can now deliver multi-gigabit speeds through the classic coaxial cable.

Sounds great, but what if you are in an area that is not served by Cable and has no fiber infrastructure nearby? Are you simply stuck with no service at all?

5G Wireless To the Rescue
Fifth generation or 5G smartphones have pretty much taken over the market from the 4G LTE standard that served us for years. With 5G comes new bands that offer expanded bandwidth and low latency for smart autonomous devices that are called the Internet of Things.

There is another application that 5G is pursuing aggressively. That is fixed wireless access or FWA. The “fixed” part of FWA means situations that are not mobile. Think of your desktop PC, point of sale terminals, or even your entire Local Area Network.

Internet service providers called WISPs or Wireless Internet Service Providers have been around to serve homes and businesses that can’t get wired or fiber Internet. They tend to be very local and independent and use systems that are not affiliated with cellular providers. If you have a WISP nearby, they can often step in and give you the service you need to stay online.

How 5G is different than the usual WISP is that it is true cellular broadband and serves both fixed and mobile users. The same broadband that you use on your phone can also be delivered directly to an office, store or residence wherever there is a cell tower nearby.

4G LTE service actually started the push for applications to use cellular broadband rather than depend on DSL, cable or other wired services. When 4G LTE became widely available it offered bandwidths that rivaled typical broadband services and had enough capacity to serve multitudes of customers rather than just a few at a time.

4G LTE is still a good option for many applications. What 5G does is offer bandwidths that can rival fiber at low latencies for sensitive applications. Major cellular carriers are promoting 5G wireless as a competitor to cable broadband in fixed locations. For business users, 5G can often substitute for unavailable T1 lines or even DS3 bandwidth.

How Do You Get 5G FWA?
You may have already paired your phone with your desktop PC or tablet using Bluetooth and setting up the phone as a personal Internet Hotspot. FWA expands upon this idea. Instead of a phone, you install a 5G or combination 5G / 4G LTE Gateway. This can be a simple box that sits on your desk in on a shelf near a window. It may have a wired Ethernet port to connect to your router or may even contain a router and WiFI hotspot. Some of these devices have special antennas that are more efficient in capturing the cellular tower signal for reliable operation.

A good way to research the availability of 5G and 4G LTE options for your business is to work with a bandwidth broker that represents a multitude of companies offering this type of service. You’ll want a solid connection with enough bandwidth to serve the size of your business and sufficient or no data limits. You may be surprised at the variety of offerings available, even in rural or otherwise underserved areas.

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

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Thursday, March 16, 2023

On Ramps That Improve Cloud Performance

By: John Shepler

IT infrastructure is now key to your business. It’s a lot more than a few servers in a closet down the hall these days. Chances are that you are using Software as a Service (SaaS) running on popular public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure plus your own private data center. What once was an easy interconnect to everything on a company LAN is now a worrying mix of local and remote connections. Are you stuck with performance that varies constantly and nightmares of security breaches, or is there a much better solution?

Cloud On-Ramps boost performanceWeak Links In The Chain
When equipment or services are remotely located, the first thing everybody thinks of is connecting through the Internet. Broadband is readily available nearly everywhere and very reasonably priced. This is especially true if you just connect through a Cable broadband service. Reliability of HFC (Hybrid Fiber Cable) networks has gotten very good and prices are as low as you’ll find.

The massive adoption of consumer broadband is what has kept prices low even for business broadband. The tradeoff is that you are sharing that connection with dozens or even hundreds of other users. You can’t see them, but you can feel the effect as the Internet speeds up and slows down.

Dedicated Access Improves Performance
The Internet is an amazing data superhighway, but the on and off ramps are where a lot of the congestion is. A good solution is get a private ramp, called Dedicated Internet Access or DIA, between you and your Internet service provider. This is most likely a fiber Ethernet connection but could be Fixed Wireless as long as the path you are using is dedicated for your use only.

Why Not All Private Access?
The next step up is a completely private line from your local network to your cloud service provider. Once again, this would be a fiber optic Ethernet running 100 Mbps to 100 Gbps with guaranteed performance. This is like having your own highway with no traffic other than your company data. It’s the closest thing to a LAN that stretches across the country to include your cloud services.

The drawback to dedicated private lines is the cost, as you might suspect. There is no one else sharing the pipe, so there is no one else helping to pay for it. You have all the bandwidth and the security of a walled-off connection, but you have all the costs too.

An intermediate solution that maintains connection performance and offers high security over long distances is the MPLS network with dedicated access lines. The MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching network is a private Wide Area Network with costs that are shared among many subscribers, but with performance guarantees instead of the “best effort” you get on the Internet. Security is better than the Internet because the network uses a proprietary label switching protocol and not the easier to hack TCP/IP.

Move Next Door To Really Improve Performance
Remember how easily it was to get all the network performance you needed when everything was in the same building and all you needed was runs of Ethernet cabling? You can replicate that by choosing to move your equipment to a colocation center that also houses your software service providers or has dedicated cloud on-ramps.

This is an example of a hybrid cloud. Your servers and storage are in racks in the colo building that supplies power and cooling. It also has direct cable or fiber connections to service providers housed in the same building. Other direct connections go to points of presence for large public cloud services that are located in multiple data centers around the world. By accessing one of these cloud on-ramps you avoid the vagaries of the Internet and connect your private cloud to their public cloud to create the hybrid cloud arrangement.

Of course, this can be expanded to include multiple services providers as long as they have a physical presence or on-ramps available in the data center. Connect to as many as make sense to create a multi-cloud that give you all the services you need. The connection to your business is then through a dedicated private line or Dedicated Internet Access from your colocated equipment back to your offices. This is considerably more cost effective than having many dedicated private lines to widely scattered service providers.

Do you need higher performance than your current connections can provide or have a requirement to interconnect multiple service providers? If so, find out what mix of dedicated, dedicated access and cloud on-ramps would work best for your company.

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

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Colocation Hosting vs Cloud Data Centers

By: John Shepler

You’ve run your own in-house data center for years, but business is growing and you’ve hit the limit on what your server room can support. Now you’ve got a choice to make. Lease new space for the additional servers, storage and other appliances you need or consider moving everything to the cloud. It’s a big decision and one that needs careful consideration before funds are committed.

Choose colocation instead of cloud hosting.Isn’t Everyone in the Cloud?
If you read the tech headlines and articles, it looks like everyone is clearing out the old server room and simply leasing cloud services. That does have a lot of attraction. With your data and applications deep within the cloud, you no longer have any capital investment, no power bills, no physical security worries, no HVAC worries, and perhaps less IT support staffing. If you need more bandwidth, server processing or storage, you simply ask the cloud to increase your allowance, perhaps even automaticlly.

Why Wouldn’t You Join the Stampede to the Cloud?
Perhaps you’re feeling a little uncomfortable. You’ve heard that joke: “There is no cloud. It’s just somebody else’s computer.” What it really amounts to is somebody else’s thousands of computers, all nicely divvied-up to share among thousands or millions of clients. The promise of the cloud is that it looks to you like you have your own computing resources all by themselves.

Does that sound exciting or does it give you a bit of a twinge? After all, you’re really happy with how responsive your IT staff is and the control you have over all the equipment and software. There are no other companies sharing your facilities. Security involves keeping bad actors out of the building and on the far side of the firewall. So, is your only choice to bite the bullet and lease a new building for expansion?

Consider the Colo Option
Perhaps a third option is best. Lease space in someone else’s specialized building but keep your computing resources to yourself. This is the idea behind Colo or colocation hosting. These facilities were once called carrier hotels when their tenants were primarily telecom carriers. Now colo is popular with businesses of all sizes.

A colocation facility provides the physical building with controlled access and security personnel. It is staffed 24/7, which may even be more than you are able to provide now. Massive redundant power lines feed the facility so there is never a question of having enough amps to power new equipment. Moreover, that power is backed up by emergency generators and often batteries to keep things running no matter what.

With all that power, you are also going to need to get rid of the heat generated by the electronics. That is handled by redundant HVAC equipment to provide cooling air to the servers and other equipment. Air filters keep the facility dust-free.

What about connectivity? That’s one reason why companies move out of their own facilities and to a colocation center. With so many clients wanting so much bandwidth, major carriers have a presence in the colo. Often you have multiple carriers to choose from and they each have multiple fiber links for dedicated access and Internet service. Not every business is served with high bandwidth fiber yet, but the colocation centers are. They’ll get you as many Gbps as you need along with IP addresses.

Moving to a Colo Facility
When you move to a colo, you lease racks with power and cooling plus connections for bandwidth. Want more security? You can have those racks installed within a locked cage that keeps everybody but your staff out. Your people can come and install their own equipment, do maintenance, and make upgrades as needed.

Many colo facilities also offer additional services if you want them. You can have the colo tech staff monitor, troubleshoot and repair your equipment. You can even lease servers and storage from the colo instead of buying them yourself.

Are you outgrowing your tech facilities but want to explore options other than simply relocating to a cloud? Consider colocation data center facilities as an option that gives you more control but saves money compared to leasing your own dedicated buildings.

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

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Monday, January 23, 2023

What Replaces DSL, T1, ISDN PRI, EoC?

By: John Shepler

Have you seen recent cost increases for your copper-based telecom services? Did you even get a letter saying that service will be discontinued? This situation will only get worse, as telcos sunset their aging copper wire assets in favor of more modern technologies such as fiber and wireless. It’s time to make a change.

Find copper line network replacements now. The Copper That Isn’t Going Anywhere
The copper that’s in trouble is twisted-pair analog copper telephone lines. They started the electronic communication revolution over a century ago and have run their course from innovation to obsolescence. There is another copper network line, however, that is still going strong. That is cable broadband using coaxial copper cable as a curb to premises connection.

The copper nature of cable services is something of a fooler. The vast majority of the network is fiber optic based. Only the last few hundred feet is the well known RG-6 terminated with an F-type connector. You might think of this wiring as old-school, but with the latest DOCSIS modems, it can easily deliver Gigabit broadband up to 10 Gbps.

Cable companies offer television, broadband and telephone service over the same cable line at a very reasonable cost that is attractive for small businesses, especially those that can use the TV feature for their customer waiting rooms.

Fiber Optic: The New and Improved Copper
The telephone and network industry standard that is replacing twisted pair copper is Ethernet based fiber optic service. The original standard, SONET, is still the backbone of many networks, but has actually transitioned from carrying channelized telephone calls to packet based Ethernet network traffic. Newer networks are all Ethernet, to reflect the standard Ethernet protocol used in the majority of digital networks worldwide.

Ethernet over Fiber has the advantage that it plugs directly into company routers and is vastly scalable, from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps just about everywhere, and up to 100 Gbps in many metro locations. Fiber takes over from copper data services, include DSL, T1, DS3 and even the newer Ethernet over Copper. EoC was meant to provide higher bandwidth using the same twisted-pair infrastructure, but is falling victim to the decommissioning of the copper bundles themselves.

Business telephone, which standardized its own analog and digital networks, is largely switching to a computer networking standard of Voice over IP or VoIP. This offers the benefit of supporting many newer technology features and allows computers and phones to share the same company Local Area Network.

To make VoIP work, your phones need to connect to the Public Switched Telephone Network to make and receive outside calls. This is done using a standard called SIP or Session Initiated Protocol that runs on the network and connects to your phone service provider over an Ethernet WAN connection, using fiber. Both the Internet and direct connections can be employed. SIP trunks replace analog phone lines and ISDN PRI trunks to carry telephone traffic to the PSTN.

The Special Case of POTS Replacement
In many cases, the move to fiber optic private line and Dedicated Internet Access will handle business needs for voice, video and data traffic. There are special cases of FAX, fire alarms, burglar alarms, elevator phones, analog point of sale systems and some others that are specifically designed to phone company standards and don’t work well on packet based networks, such as the Internet.

For these uses, you may want to look into specialized POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) replacement options. These usually work wirelessly through private connections to the LTE cellular phone network and don’t traverse the Internet at all. An advantage of POTS replacement equipment is that it connects directly to the systems you already have.

Fixed Wireless Where There Is No Fiber
The day may come where fiber is everywhere, but today were are still in the build-out phase. Fiber is going into the ground at a rapid pace, but in more rural locations are still waiting for access. Even metro areas that don’t have lit fiber installed may be faced with huge construction costs to connect to the fiber access points.

The alternative is to skip the fiber but get high speed Ethernet bandwidth using Fixed Wireless Access. FWA is similar to cellular broadband but is intended to connect to in-house networks rather than cell phones. In fact, the major cellular companies are in competition to offer 5G Fixed Wireless broadband service to both residential and commercial users.

Other wireless companies, often called WISPs for Wireless Internet Service Providers, don’t handle cell traffic but have towers that serve a limited area with wireless Internet access.

Other microwave-based FWA providers focus on business customers with high bandwidths that can reach 10 Gbps. This can be private line as well and Internet service. An advantage to business FWA is that a small dish or other antenna can be installed on your building for reliable operation and service can get started in days rather than weeks or months for fiber construction.

Are you facing a loss of your traditional DSL, T1, ISDN PRI, EoC or analog telephone service and need replacement soon? If so, you may have an opportunity to upgrade your service and save money at the same time. Check out telephone and network replacement options now.

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

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