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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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.

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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.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Ethernet WAN is the New SONET

By: John Shepler

High speed communications lines progressed from copper analog to copper digital to fiber optic digital over most of the last century. The technology that drives fiber has also evolved from time sliced synchronous multiplexing to packet based protocols, mirroring the transition to networked computing for nearly every business. While older SONET telco lines still provide effective connections, there are real advantages to be gained by upgrading to Ethernet WAN, the newer technology for fiber optic service.

Find Ehternet WAN services now.It Started With Really Fast Phone Lines
SONET, which stands for Synchronous Optical NETwork, is a phone company invention that was developed to bundle or multiplex thousands of individual phone calls onto an optical fiber for long distance transmission. To make operations easier, SONET was made backwards compatible with legacy T1 service that does exactly the same thing with 24 calls over two twisted copper pair… in other words, ordinary telephone line.

SONET allowed the phone companies to bundle T1 line into DS3 lines into OC3 fiber lines and demultiplex or unbundle them anywhere along the way. Everything was compatible down to the single telephone channel.

SONET to Link Computers
So, how did SONET come to support computer networking? The protocol had to be converted between SONET’s time division multiplexing and Ethernet’s packet switching. That was accomplished using protocol conversion on a plug-in module. To the user, It made no difference what was going on under the hood. Packets would go in one router and come out another miles or thousands of miles away.

SONET was developed for fiber and all of the early fiber optic links for computer networks were connected using one of the SONET levels. OC3 was the lowest speed at 155 Mbps. This was the first fiber service that most corporations ordered when they outgrew their T1 and T3 lines. Each increase in speed required swapping out an adaptor module for the particular SONET level.

In fact, the Internet was built on SONET. SONET rings, which offer redundant paths, formed the core of the Internet as it grew. Internet service providers would connect via SONET and then divvy up the bandwidth for multiple 64Kbps dial-up modems or, later, DSL or Cable broadband modems.

The Ethernet Revolution
Ethernet, developed by the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the mid to late 1970’s, grew to become the dominant networking protocol, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of the personal computer at the same time. Most small and large users adopted Ethernet, as adaptor cards, cabling, hubs and routers became more and more affordable. Every PC soon came with an RJ-45 Ethernet jack as standard equipment and peripherals, such as printers, did the same for compatibility.

Once Ethernet became the de-facto networking standard and computer data traffic greatly exceeded voice traffic, it started to make sense to just adopt Ethernet for Wide Area Networks as well as Local Area Networks. When business phones became digitized and used VoIP to connect on the same network as the computers, the need for a separate voice network faded away.

Another factor that has moved WAN services from SONET to Ethernet is the rise of competitive network service providers independent of the telephone companies. Since these companies had no legacy analog phone service to support, they could simply focus on offering Ethernet connections to their customers in competition to the telcos.

By this time the original Ethernet protocol has been expanded to provide technical specifications for Carrier Ethernet, which is the same as LAN Ethernet but extended to support the MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network).

What Ethernet WAN Has to Offer
You remember that SONET has distinct service levels, each with it’s own bandwidth and specific adaptor requirements. Ethernet doesn’t have this limitation. Instead, you have an Ethernet port with a maximum bandwidth, say 1 Gbps. It will support any bandwidth up to the max limit of 1 Gbps. You can order 100 Mbps service today and easily upgrade to 500 Mbps or 1 Gbps later. Only if you want a service level above 1 Gbps, will you need to have a higher capacity port installed. This process is so seamless that many providers will let you change service levels at will by logging into your online account.

Ethernet services tend to be less expensive than SONET. Usually, much less expensive. You pay for the service level you want, be it 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps, and so on. Remember you can change this easily after you have service installed and your bill will be adjusted to the new level you select.

Since there are many, many competing Ethernet MAN and WAN service providers, pricing per Mbps has dropped rapidly over the years and continues to do so. Some of the service providers are the traditional telephone companies, but with much improved pricing. Others are independent carriers serving regional, national, or international areas. They can also provide excellent customer service, high reliability, and very good deals on bandwidth.

There are usually two types of service you’ll be interested in. One is a dedicated connection to the Internet at a bandwidth you select. The other is a point to point dedicated private line that is just like having a very long Ethernet cable connecting two LANs separated by many miles. These are useful for interconnecting main offices and branch offices, warehouse, manufacturing centers and so on with maximum performance and privacy. Another popular application is a direct connection between your offices and your cloud service provider. This avoids the vagaries of Internet performance and makes the cloud seem like it is right down the hall.

Perhaps you still have legacy SONET service that was installed years ago. It’s been working fine so no one has paid much attention. This would be a good time to see if competing Ethernet WAN services can give you more bandwidth for the same budget or offer a considerable cost savings if you are happy with the bandwidth level you have now. It doesn’t cost anything to look, so why not see what’s available?

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

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Upgrade your ISP to GigE and 10GigE

By: John Shepler

Regardless of whether your business is strictly e-commerce or a traditional bricks and mortar operation, Internet access is essential to conducting business these days. One thing we never seem to have enough of is bandwidth. This is the right time to upgrade your broadband connection to handle the throughput you really need to efficiently get the job done. Surprisingly, it may be more affordable than you think.

Dramatically increase your broadband speed to 1 Gbps or 10 GbpsHow Much Do You Need?
Small businesses, including home offices, single person professional offices, small retail stores and the like, may find that 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet service is plenty. You might even get by with less than that… for now. For every other situation, you’ll want to look at bandwidth fast enough to be transparent. Transparent means you don’t even know it is there. There’s always enough that you won’t get slowed down no matter what you are doing. That’s the gigabit range. Consider Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GigE).

Why speeds so much higher than you’ve expected over the years? Today’s business is different. Much of what we call content is high consumption video versus email messaging. Images are much larger, if not in physical size then in Mbps. Databases are huge. They don’t call it “big data” for no reason. On top of all this, most processing has moved or is moving to the cloud. Those high speed Ethernet cables that connected you in-house have to be replicated between you and your cloud provider.

Really Fast Connections Readily Available
Fortunately, the networking industry is keeping pace. The incentives of greater business demand, 4G and 5G wireless, and consumer cord cutting has pushed providers to expand their networks and lower the cost per Mbps and Gbps. You likely have multiple options to get the bandwidth you need at a price you can afford.

You should know that Internet Server Provider (ISP) bandwidth comes in multiple flavors, each with its own characteristics and pricing. There’s a reason why they don’t all cost the same. The first reason is provider competition. The more options that are available in a particular area, the more competitive pricing will be, especially on the higher end business connections.

Another reason is whether you can live with shared bandwidth or need to have exclusive use. Your lower cost options, of which cable is the biggest provider by far, have the bandwidth multiplexed or shared among many users. You’ll notice that your bandwidth is “up to 1 Gbps” rather than guaranteed to be that speed at all times. The idea is that not everyone is using the line to full capacity at all times. In fact, that’s highly unlikely. So, while you are reading something online, somebody else is downloading a file… and vice versa.

If you are running a server or running business critical software in the cloud that needs to hesitate as little as possible, you’ll want Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) at a minimum. In fact, you may even need to upgrade to a direct connection between you and your cloud provider to get the performance you desire. That gets you off the Internet and its vagaries completely. Dedicated Internet Access keeps you on the Internet, but you don’t share your “last mile” bandwidth. That’s where most of the congestion occurs anyway.

Another consideration is whether you need symmetrical bandwidth or not. Most Internet services that offer shared bandwidth are also asymmetrical. That means the download speed is much higher, sometimes 10x higher, than the upload speed. It makes sense if you are mostly accessing web sites or downloading videos, like most consumers. However, if you run cloud processes where you upload as much as you download or do large backups to remote storage, you’ll want symmetrical bandwidth options.

Your ISP Bandwidth Options
So, what’s available? Cable broadband using DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 standards will get you 100 to 1000 Mbps shared bandwidth Internet access, usually asymmetrical. It’s quite reliable these days and you can’t beat the price.

If you are out in the boonies where there is no cable, you might get by with 4G or 5G wireless broadband. Yes, it’s the same broadband that runs your smartphone, but with a special modem that connects an office network. Another option is satellite business broadband. This will work just about anywhere and offers decent bandwidth. Latency can be an issue, especially for VoIP telephony and video conferencing, but otherwise may be just the ticket. Note that both of these wireless options have limited resources so that you may run into usage limits.

Fiber optic bandwidth is the gold standard these days. It’s more available than ever before and you can generally get as much bandwidth as you care to. This is where you find DIA and symmetrical options. You'll also find the services to directly connect you to your cloud provider or other business locations.

Fixed Wireless Access used to be very limited and only in major downtown metro areas. It’s expanded quite a bit recently and can often function as fiber optic without the fiber. That works to your advantage when fiber construction costs are high or you can’t wait long for service installation.

Should you upgrade your ISP to GigE or 10 GigE? Perhaps even 100 GigE? If your current Internet service is stifling your business you really can’t afford not to. Check high speed business Internet and direct connection prices and availability now to see what is available for your business locations.

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

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