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.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

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.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

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.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Monday, June 27, 2022

Ethernet Better Than a T3 Line

By: John Shepler

Not long ago, T3 voice and data lines were a mainstay of medium and larger size businesses. Today, that once impressive 45 Mbps doesn’t seem all that fast. Our business applications demand more like 100 Mbps or 1,000 Mbps. Medical campuses, design firms and video production houses are more interested in 10 Gbps and looking beyond even that. If you still have a T3 line contract, you may well find that you can get more bandwidth for the same or less cost right now.

Switch from T3 to Ethernet and save!What is a T3 Line?
The T3 designation is part of the T-Carrier system developed by Bell Labs in the post-war tech boom. It was originally designed to transport large numbers of simultaneous telephone conversations and still fills that role for some larger businesses and call centers. Prior to T-Carrier, telecom was based on analog technology. T1 and T3 changed that to digital and started us down the path to the Internet we have today.

T3 is specified at 45 Mbps, enough to transport 672 digitized phone calls. That makes it a lot more efficient than creating a bundle of 672 separate twisted pair copper wires as telephone lines. T3 was once transported through large coaxial cables or microwave relay stations. More recently, it has been bundled on SONET fiber optic cables and called DS3. DS3 is the data format that runs on the physical T3 line, so DS3 and T3 pretty much mean the same thing.

The channelized version of T3 is used to carry those 672 phone calls, each in a separate channel or time slot in the data stream. For data transmission, the unchannelized version of T3 carries 45 Mbps worth of data, including the familiar packet switched networks.

Ethernet Replaces T3
Most all communications these days done over digital networks and originates in the most popular protocol, Ethernet. Even telephones have switched to an Ethernet interface so they can hook to the same network as computers instead of having separate wiring. This is called VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. With computers and phones on the same network, it makes sense to transport everything over Ethernet on both the local and wide area networks.

This is exactly what is happening. Carrier Ethernet, the long haul version, is replacing other telecom protocols such as T-Carrier for copper line and SONET for fiber optic. It’s pretty much going all Fiber optic Ethernet now. This is often referred to as Ethernet WAN for Wide Area Network.

Cost and Performance Advantages of Ethernet
The first advantage of long haul Ethernet transmission is that it is directly compatible with most all company networks. You simply plug the Carrier’s Ethernet into your router. There is no need for separate protocol conversion boxes or modules as required to support T1 and T3 lines.

A second advantage is that Ethernet is easily scalable. You can run at any speed up to the limit of the physical port from the Carrier. T-Carrier and SONET protocols were designed for specific speeds and needed to have hardware replaced to upgrade. The bandwidth of your line is set by the Carrier based on your contract. You can easily increase or decrease that as your needs change and it will be reflected in your billing.

Perhaps the biggest incentive to switch to Ethernet WAN service is pricing. You may be shocked at how much your can save by switching from an older telecom service to Ethernet WAN. Ethernet is almost always lower in cost on a per-Mbps basis. Sometimes the difference can be a factor of two or more.

Much of the cost savings comes from a more competitive environment for fiber optic Ethernet versus the old telco services with one provider. There may be several companies offering Ethernet bandwidth for your business at competitive rates.

Fiber is also more available than ever before. The upgrade of cellphone towers to 4G LTE and 5G has demanded a rapid expansion of fiber optic networks. Copper is yesterday’s news and, more and more, it is being left to rust in the ground. Fiber and wireless are the future for networking.

Do you have legacy T3 or DS3 service and want to see if you can get a better deal? That’s easy. Just check prices and availability of Ethernet WAN service for your business address. Chances are good that you can get more bandwidth for the same or less cost than what you pay now.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter

Monday, May 23, 2022

Gigabit to 10 Gigabit to 100 Gigabit WAN

By: John Shepler

Business WAN (Wide Area Network) bandwidth needs have accelerated, as more operations are moved to the cloud and more employees are working remotely. Fortunately, there are very good provider solutions available to create high bandwidth links from point to point and to the Internet.

High bandwidth fiber optic services that are right for your business.Fiber Optic Ethernet WAN
Fiber optic connectivity is now clearly the gold standard for business bandwidth. If you are still using legacy T1 lines, ISDN PRI, or DS3 bandwidth, you are probably running out of bandwidth and likely headed for obsolescense. Many carriers are starting to decommission their copper-based services due to high maintenance costs and declining customer interest. It’s time to upgrade.

All fiber is not created equal, however. The legacy SONET technology introduced decades ago by the telephone companies is also getting long in the tooth. What’s better? The new standard is called Carrier Ethernet or Ethernet WAN.

Fiber Optic Ethernet WAN is an extension of the switched Ethernet standard used on virtually every Local Area Network. The technical standards make it easy to connect the LAN to the WAN without going through any intermediate protocol conversions. It’s Ethernet from end to end. This is the standard that most every service provider is offering, including many of the legacy telephone companies that have adopted it for their own networks.

Advantages of Fiber Ethernet WAN include ease of scaling bandwidth without having to change interface hardware. Order 10 to 50 Mbps starter service and easily upgrade to 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps, usually by using an online portal or making a phone call. Truck rolls are seldom needed unless you are ordering service beyond what your terminal equipment can handle.

Pricing is very attractive. You can start with lower bandwidth services from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps and likely pay the same or less than you pay now for your copper based services. You almost always get more bandwidth for the same cost or pay less for the replacement bandwidth at the same service level.

Cost savings are even more dramatic as you go up in bandwidth. The cost per Mbps or Gbps compared to legacy solutions gets lower and lower as you go up in speed. Costs have also been dropping over time as technology improves, carriers build-out fiber runs, and competition increases. If you have a contract that is more than a few years old, you can likely save money with a new service.

Multi-Gigabit Solutions
There was time, and it was only a few years ago, that 1 Gbps or 1,000 Mbps broadband or private line service was the holy grail of connectivity. Not anymore. Fiber isn’t rare the way it used to be. It’s very common, now, to have fiber running extensively in metro business areas. Often there are multiple competing providers that result in very attractive pricing.

Fiber build-outs are multiplying, as more and more businesses demand higher and higher bandwidths and cell towers are upgraded to support millimeter wave 5G cellular service.

1 Gigabit bandwidth is common for business, with more demanding applications upgrading to 10 Gigabit service. The next move is to 100 Gbps Fiber Optic Ethernet WAN. Although that may seem ridiculously high for smaller businesses, it is not unreasonable for large hospital campuses and medical centers with multiple imaging facilities. Other high users are universities, research laboratories, government entities, video production houses, architectural firms and manufacturers. With 5G wireless supporting bandwidths in excess of 1 Gbps and cable companies offering at least that much to consumers, 10 Gbps is quite reasonable for highly automated businesses that have made the transition to digital. 100 Gbps is simply the next logical increment.

Dark Fiber and Fixed Wireless Access
Lit fiber optic WAN is likely to remain the standard for business for the foreseeable future. However, there are special situations where related technical solutions make sense.

Dark Fiber is an option for businesses that want more control of their connections, almost as if they owned the link themselves. Many network providers have extra unlit fiber strands in their cables available for spares and future expansion. They may be willing to lease an entire fiber strand or a wavelength on one of the strands. What is available depends on the locations you wish to link. Advantages of dark fiber include being able to run any protocol you wish and the enhanced security of being the only user on a particular fiber or wavelength.

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) uses microwave frequencies instead of fiber to carry the traffic. Many cellular companies use FWA to backhaul traffic to their remote towers instead of having long and isolated fiber runs. Bandwidths can be in the Gigabit to 10 Gigabit range and offer dedicated private line service or connections to the Internet. Think of FWA as fiber without the physical fiber. You have an antenna on your building instead. A major advantage of FWA is that installation can be done in days versus months to have fiber trenched in were none is currently available.

Are you ready for a bandwidth upgrade from older copper services or expensive SONET fiber? Fiber Optic Ethernet WAN, Dark Fiber and Fixed Wireless Access may offer exactly what you need at better prices than ever before.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter