Monday, November 16, 2020

Wireless Business Internet Options

By: John Shepler

We live in a wired world. Your business is tethered to infrastructure of electrical power, telephone and Internet by a variety of copper cables. Electric power and landline phone are almost universally available, thanks to national plans and regulations.

Wireless Business Internet solutions for you.Internet? Not so much. While copper and fiber optic broadband are readily available in metro and suburban areas, as you get farther from the city center you options go down. Out in rural areas? There’s often no such thing as wired Internet infrastructure. You either go without or… go wireless.

Point to Point Microwave
Think of point to point microwave as fiber optic without the fiber. At high enough frequencies that could be an actual light beam from a laser, although it is much more common to use the centimeter and millimeter wave bands.

PTP microwave uses small dish antennas at the sending and receiving ends. This is a fixed, not mobile, service and you need the antenna on your building high enough to see the other dish without obstructions. These high frequencies don’t penetrate objects well, but they can supply high bandwidths of a Gigabit per second or more.

While PTP microwave established itself in dense metro areas that might be expensive to add fiber or cabling or take too long for construction, you see these little dishes on cell towers out in the country for the same reason. If there is a provider serving your area, you might be in luck for this service.

Wireless Internet Service Providers
A WISP, as it is known, is a centrally located tower that provides wireless Internet service to a small service area circling the tower. This is point to multi-point rather than a dedicated PTP link. Think of WISPs as high powered WiFI outdoor routers. Like PTP, you’ll need an outdoor antenna, perhaps one of those small dishes, pointed at the tower. They may operate in licensed or unlicensed spectrum and deliver typical broadband speeds.

WISPs are popular where fiber and cable don’t reach, but they are local operations. You may or may not have one that serves your location.

Cellular Broadband Service
Just about everyone has a smartphone these days and making phone calls is the least of the services we expect. No, it’s the broadband Internet connection feeding a myriad of apps that keeps us glued to the screen. That same broadband can be harnessed for business applications using an access point that has all the circuitry needed for broadband but minus the screen and telephone capability.

For limited or infrequent use, you might pick up one of these access points at a big box store. Have it set up for the carrier of your choice. These work well in areas where the cellular signal is strong and usually come with fairly limited usage plans. Plug the access point into your router or buy one that comes with a WiFi router and you can serve your entire business.

A more robust version designed especially for business uses specially designed antennas for better signal pickup or an outside antenna that will give you a strong signal even in rural areas. These business grade access points are usually 4G LTE or 5G where available. They also come with more extensive data plans, some even unlimited… just what you need to run a business with employees.

What makes this really attractive is that the cellular infrastructure is already widespread and extending out into many rural areas and smaller towns. If your business needs to move from job site to job site or your operate pop-up stores, cellular broadband may be the only reasonable option that will follow you.

Satellite Broadband
Yes, there are areas really out in the boonies where there is no cellular service and even landline phone and electric power are hard to come by. You can still get Internet, though. How? With a satellite dish pointed at the southern sky where the geostationary communication satellites are parked. Newer high power satellites offer high speeds, reliable service, reasonable data plans for business and reasonable prices.

The big limitation of satellite business broadband is the latency that is inherent in the long distances that the signal must travel up to the bird and back down. This half to one second or so delay can be an annoyance for business processes that use the cloud or VoIP phone calls and video conferences. For email, web browsing, remote data acquisition and file transfers, latency might not be much of an problem at all.

The latency issues will likely be solved by the new constellations of Low Earth Orbit or LEO satellites. These orbit hundreds rather than tens of thousands of miles up and support latencies similar to cable or long haul fiber. SpaceX is first to market with an extensive fleet of broadband satellites that will provide worldwide coverage, even at sea, in a few years. Other providers will likely follow, as the potential market for connecting the disconnected is enormous.

Are you in serious need of reliable broadband Internet service for your business at a reasonable price? Find out what wired and wireless solutions are available for your locations now.

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

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Lower Cost Last Mile Fiber

By: John Shepler

What is the most critical part of the Internet? To you, the user, it’s that last mile connection to your place of business. That’s usually the limiting factor and where most of the problems are. What you need is a better connection, and fiber is the gold standard.

Get a fiber optic last mile Internet connection now.Last Mile Limitations
Don’t get me wrong. There are no guarantees on the Internet. Your priority is the same as everyone else’s. When nodes get congested or name servers go down, the people connecting on a shoestring and the well-healed are both affected. That said, the Internet has matured to the point where the backbone networks are highly reliable and have plenty of bandwidth.

If you need the ultimate in connection quality between multiple business locations, you need to look to private solutions, such as point to point dedicated connections and MPLS networks. These have much stricter control of bandwidth, latency, jitter and packet loss. They are pricey and they don’t connect to the general public. That’s why the Internet is indispensable for nearly all businesses for sales and customer service.

The last mile connection is where pricing and quality vary all over the place. The biggest differentiator is shared vs dedicated bandwidth. Dedicated bandwidth means that you have exclusive use of the line capacity. What you don’t use simply idles until it is needed.

Seems like that’s the way it should always be, but the Internet wouldn’t have expanded geometrically the way it has if everyone had to pay for a dedicated line. Instead, carriers such as cable and wireless companies, buy high capacity dedicated lines and then multiplex them to share among many users. The idea is that not everyone is online at the same time and even if they are, most are not uploading or downloading at a given moment.

Prior to so many people working at home, most of the heavy consumer activity took place in the evening and business use was limited to daytime. Now, daytime demand is heavy for everyone using shared bandwidth. When it gets too heavy, line speed for everyone is reduced until the load lightens.

Dedicated High Speed Connections
Your best performance will come through a dedicated, symmetrical high speed link. Symmetrical means that upload and download speeds are the same. That tends to be case with dedicated lines. Shared bandwidth tends to be asymmetrical with much higher download than upload speeds.

You also want to connect through a top tier Internet Service Provider. These are larger companies that pay to connect directly to the Internet backbone. Smaller ISPs pay transport fees to the larger companies to connect through them to the Internet. It’s one more link in the chain.

You can get dedicated lines in both copper and fiber technologies. There are some microwave service providers who can deliver an equivalent connection wirelessly. These tend to be short range line-of-sight connections in major metro areas.

Copper solutions include the traditional T1 and DS3 (also called T3) lines. Newer technology is Ethernet over Copper which uses the same twisted pair cabling as T1 lines, but can support much higher speeds, although bandwidth tends to decrease with distance to the central office.

Fiber used to be a rare and expensive proposition, but that has all changed in recent years. Even cable companies have deployed fiber as their main transport network and some will sell you dedicated fiber optic Internet connections in addition to their more typical coaxial copper shared bandwidth services.

Fiber solutions include traditional telco Optical Carrier services such as OC3, OC12 and OC 48. The newer technology is Ethernet over Fiber. it’s generally much less expensive and highly scalable. That means you aren’t stuck with the bandwidth you first installed. You can start off with 10 or 100 Mbps and easily scale up to 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps or even 100 Gbps as the need arises. That alone is a great cost saver. The competitive nature of today’s fiber marketplace has greatly reduced the price of bandwidth far below what you might expect.

The buildout of cellular towers for 4G LTE and 5G has created a fiber construction boom. Many buildings have also been connected by fiber for business use. These are great places to have an office because the heavy construction costs of bringing in fiber have already been paid. If you don’t have fiber in your office yet, it may still cost little or nothing to bring a fiber bundle in. That’s because there is likely a point of presence fairly close and carriers each want to be first to “light” a building and garner the business of the tenants.

Do you need a reasonably priced highly reliable last mile connection to the Internet? Get multiple competitive quotes now and see how much bandwidth you can really afford.

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

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

10 Gbps Dedicated Internet Access Has the Speed You Need

By John Shepler

Gigabit Internet is something of a gold standard for high speed business connections. Sometimes, though, even 1 Gbps doesn’t get the job done. At that point you need to consider a move up… to 10 Gigabit Internet.

Find 10 Gbps DIA bandwidth now.Who Needs 10 Gbps Bandwidth?
Most small businesses and probably all residential Internet users have no real need for this performance. The bragging rights are far offset by significant monthly lease fees. This is serious bandwidth for demanding applications that make having it more than worth the cost.

Not long ago the only place you’d find 10 Gbps pipes were in the backbones of carrier networks, including the Internet itself. Time marches on and what was adequate a decade ago is marginal performance today. Those 10 Gbps lines have gone from rare and hard to get to fairly common and readily available to business.

Cloud services and colocation centers certainly need access to gigabit, 10 gigabit and even higher connection speeds. Large corporations with thousands of employees, all connected, can also justify this speed. High tech firms and those using high tech tools may also require higher speeds. Content providers? Absolutely. Hospital and medical centers with large imaging requirements certainly can’t be waiting around for file transfers.

What’s Involved In Acquiring 10 Gigabit Service?
Speeds this high are almost always going to be delivered on fiber optic cable. The interesting thing about fiber is that once you have it installed it is as easy to get high speeds as it is to get much more modest service. That’s because the fiber itself is capable of tremendous throughput. The limiting factors are the number of strands in the fiber bundle and the termination equipment on both ends.

The first standard for high speed fiber transmission was developed by the telephone companies and called SONET for Synchronous Optical NETwork. You may have heard of OC-192, which is the 10 Gbps SONET Optical Carrier level. Nowadays, most competitive networks and even the telcos are moving to Carrier Ethernet. Ethernet is directly compatible with nearly all local area networks. It is also easily scalable from typically 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps and even higher speeds. What’s even more important for most business users is that Carrier Ethernet, also called Ethernet over Fiber, is generally far more available and far less costly than the older SONET technology.

Many competitive regional, national and international carriers now offer 10 Gig Ethernet access as well as point to point private lines. That means you may have several competitive offers to consider.

Why 10 Gbps Dedicated Internet Access?
Think of the Internet as the proverbial electronic superhighway with a backbone of major interstate and international roadways and millions of on-ramps. Unless you are part of the Internet itself, you will be connecting through one of these on-ramps. They vary greatly in performance.

The best performance you can expect on the Internet is to connect to the network backbone through a high tier provider using a dedicated connection. Dedicated means that you and you alone have use of the bandwidth you have leased. That sounds like the way it should be, but most Internet connections designed for consumers and smaller businesses are shared, not dedicated. By multiplexing many customers on the same line, cable, satellite and cellular wireless companies can offer low cost reasonable speed connections to their customers.

The other characteristic to look for is symmetric bandwidth. That means 10 Gbps in both the upstream and downstream connections. Those low cost options are usually asymmetrical, with download speed high and upload speed low.

Bandwidth to Grow With Your Needs
Since Carrier Ethernet is so scalable, you can often order the bandwidth you need today with the option of upgrading incrementally as your needs grow. With a 10 Gbps port, you can order 1 Gbps, 5 Gbps or some other speed and pay for the performance you are actually using. As long as you have enough port speed, you can often upgrade with just a phone call to your supplier or even through your online account.

Are you cramped for bandwidth but concerned that what you really need is not available or too expensive? You’re likely in for a pleasant surprise, so go ahead and request competitive quotes from Dedicated Internet Access providers serving your business address.

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

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Friday, August 28, 2020

When Your Broadband Isn’t Stable Enough For VoIP Phones

By: John Shepler

People may point and laugh when you tell them your phones are still on analog landlines. Do you have to crank the phone or spin the dial? Very funny… especially when it turns out the joke is on them.

Get better VoIP phone quality nowThose old twisted pair lines were designed to have decent voice quality and rock solid stability. Yes, they can degrade with time. That usually shows up as noise on the line until you can’t make or receive calls. After a quick service call, everything is back in order for another year or two or a decade.

Oh, but that’s so old fashioned. The new phone line is the Internet. You can ditch the separate wiring and expensive line to the phone company when your computers and telephones share the same broadband connection. You can also get more advanced features, such as phones and computers that work together to support customers.

The only real hitch is that sometimes the new phones don’t measure up to the old phones. Oh, the handsets are great. They’re marvels of electronic engineering. Somewhere, somehow, the performance is getting lost. Calls may start out fine and then get garbled. The distortion can be so bad you can’t understand the caller. Worst case the call gets dropped…. and you slam that fancy handset back in the cradle. Not too hard, though. Those phones are expensive.

Where It All Goes So Wrong
The problem with VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol telephony isn’t the fundamental digital technology. It’s that Internet thing. The Internet serves everyone, goes everywhere and is cheap as chips, as they say. Anyone and everyone is online doing pretty much everything possible. Your phone call goes into the fray like every other session and winds up at your VoIP service provider. It’s also completely democratic. Your call is no more or less important than somebody streaming a movie or placing an online order.

What you may not realize is that your old phone calls were really dedicated private connections between you and the party you are talking to. The line itself from your building to the phone company is just a pair of wires that go all the way there. A switching system then connects your line to the other party’s line. You have a dedicated circuit for the duration of the call. If the system gets overloaded, the next caller gets a busy signal. On the Internet, nobody gets a busy signal. The system simply slows down or drops bits. That’s what wrecks nice clean phone conversations.

Is There a Way to Make it Better?
The fundamental problem is more bits per second than a connection can handle. First, stop letting your computers and phones fight for the bandwidth. Set your router up to give phone calls priority. Whatever they don’t use can serve the other equipment. If those operations don’t have enough left over, you are going to have to order a higher bandwidth line.

Another thing to know is that the first mile is the worst mile for an Internet connection. The core of the Internet has much higher performance than most local Internet Service Providers. The cheaper the connection, the more likely it is that you’ll be in contention with other users. Dump the shared bandwidth services like cable and cellular broadband in favor of a dedicated Internet connection, like a T1 line. The 1.5 Mbps bandwidth of T1 is probably not going to meet your other needs, so consider this just for the phones. Otherwise get a higher bandwidth service for everything using Carrier Ethernet over copper or fiber.

Get Off The Internet
If you really want to get control of call quality, replicate the old dedicated phone line but with newer technology. What you need is a dedicated line service from your company to your phone service provider. Most PBX systems can use a T1 line, ISDN PRI (another flavor of T1), or a SIP Trunk. SIP Trunking is designed to directly support VoIP telephony.

Note that these dedicated lines go directly from point to point. There is no Internet connection involved.

If you want to tie together several business locations, an MPLS network may be cost advantageous. This is like a private Internet. The difference is that the line quality is carefully maintained by the service provider and is not the free-for-all you get on the Internet. Does it cost more? You bet. It may well be worth it, though, for customer satisfaction and employee productivity.

Are you frustrated with the quality of your phone service or the performance of your entire network? It’s time to take a look at voice and data connections that will get the job done and probably save you more money than they cost.

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

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Yes, You ARE Overpaying For Your Phone and Data Lines

By: John Shepler

With the economic future highly in question, every business needs to take a long, hard look at what it takes to survive. With future income uncertain and likely reduced, a good place to focus is on reducing expenses. Telecom lines, including data, telephone and Internet, can be a major monthly bill. It’s highly likely that right now you are paying more, perhaps much more, than you could be for the same quality of service.

Save on your telecom costs now.Who’s Gouging Me?
Probably no one is cheating you or even taking advantage of your business. If you like, blame it on the gremlins. You know, those sneaky little critters that make everything break at the worst possible time. They also know how to bleed your budget without you ever knowing.

First, Get Rid of the Waste
You are paying for stuff you don’t need. I suspect you are paying for stuff that you don’t even use. How can that be? Anyone who has ever cleaned house has discovered all sorts of unopened christmas presents, products still in their original packaging, and food way past its safe date. The same is true in business. Things get bought. Some never get used. Others are used awhile, then the situation changes and they are set aside… just in case. Just in case never comes back again.

The worst offenders are subscriptions and contracts you pay for monthly but don’t get any value from. Right now, pull the bills for the last few months related to computing and telecom services. Services are especially sneaky at bleeding your budget because they are often out of sight and out of mind. You don’t trip over them like you do a big piece of equipment.

Now, grab a cup of coffee and go to a quiet space with your bills and some highlighters. You have to walk through these from top to bottom and question everything. Are there lines installed that aren’t being used anymore? Are there cell phone numbers that stopped being used when people left long ago? What about special fax machine lines, alarm connections, direct lines to buildings you got rid of? More DID numbers than you can possible use today? Toll Free numbers you don’t even advertise? Highlight them all. They’ve got to go.

Save a Bundle on What You DO Need
Now that you’ve made arrangements to delete all that extra costly clutter that adds no value, you’re left with the essentials. Of course you need phone lines and broadband service. You may need a direct connection to a cloud service provider or another office. You may well want managed security instead of having to keep someone on staff to fend off cybercriminals. Don’t cut so far to the bone that you hurt your ability to do business. Just get a better deal.

There’s a little secret about telecom services that escapes notice most of the time. Business lines, especially the dedicated ones like T1, DS3, SONET and Carrier Ethernet, are sold on contract. Usually you commit for at least a year, but probably take a 3 year contract for better pricing. Nothing wrong with that. It’s what happens at contract expiration that matters.

You might be tempted to simply renew the same contract at the same price, figuring you are lucky to avoid price inflation. Wrong. This industry is highly competitive and technology is advancing constantly. That translates into lower prices, not higher. For the same money you should get more bandwidth. Otherwise you should get a lower price for the next 3 years at the same bandwidth.

When New is Cheaper
Upgrading your technology could actually save rather than cost. Still nursing an old PBX system that needs maintenance and has pricy replacement parts? Have a look at
VoIP cloud service providers and let them manage the switching gear. All you need is phones and a SIP trunk to the cloud. You also gain new features that old analog desk phones can’t support.

Fiber optic bandwidth connections used to cost an arm and couple of legs. Not anymore. If you are in a built-up, not rural, area there is probably lots of fiber in the ground and overhead. Even the cable companies are leasing out extra fiber capacity. You might find that an upgrade in bandwidth could cost less than you pay for copper service now.

Running your own servers used to be the only way to go. Not anymore. In fact, it’s hard not to save money by pulling the plug and getting your infrastructure in the cloud. This is especially true if you need special high capacity lines to handle customer traffic. That bandwidth is likely cheaper at the remote data center and you’ll only need a lower bandwidth connection to manage the cloud services from your location.

Well, what do you think? Is there opportunity for cost saving in your business? Give these ideas at least a good look before you decide you are doing as well as you can. That includes getting a new current set of competitive quotes on all your line services, telephone, wireless and cloud services to see what might be available that you don’t know about.

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

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