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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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Fiber Without The Fiber

By: John Shepler

You’re stretched for bandwidth. Perhaps the telco is telling you that they won’t renew your T1 or ISDN lines, as they are dropping their support for copper telecom services. You know the solution to either of these dilemmas is an upgrade to fiber optic bandwidth. Once it is installed, you can get all the bandwidth you need now and upgrade easily in the future. One problem. There are no fiber buildouts near you.

That leaves you with two unpleasant possibilities. Either pay a small fortune in construction costs to have fiber pulled-in, or forget fiber because there is none to be had for your location. Not so fast. There is another possibility. Get fiber performance without the actual fiber.

Choose Fiber, Cable broadband, or Fixed Wireless AccessWhat Acts Like Fiber But Isn’t Fiber?

It isn’t those little glass strands that are so valuable to your business. It’s the bandwidth they carry. Your network doesn’t need to know or care how the traffic is carried in the metropolitan or wide area networks. There just needs to be enough bandwidth with low enough latency, jitter and packet loss. Anything that does that is virtually fiber.

Let’s take a look at two good options for high speed business Internet connectivity that can give you fiber optic performance but without the issue of having to install fiber where there isn’t any.

No fiber, No Wires At All
The first possibility is Fixed Wireless Access or FWA. Back in the day, this was known as microwave relay. Telephone companies put up massive towers with equally massive horn antennas to beam microwave signals from point to point. The traffic was bundles of telephone calls or television transmissions.

Today there are thousands of towers dotting the landscape in town and throughout rural areas. These were erected to support cell phone service. After several generations of technical advancement, we arrive at the newest standard: 5G or fifth generation. The 5G system uses a variety of bands in the megahertz and gigahertz range. The highest frequency or shortest wavelength equipment runs well into the microwave part of the spectrum and has massive bandwidth capability.

The higher the population density, the more 5G capability you’ll find. For smaller businesses, a fixed location cellular modem that plugs into your network can give you the reliable connection you need with lots of bandwidth available at reasonable prices. In other areas 4G LTE is a reasonable alternative and a very mature technology. If you need dozens of Mbps rather than hundreds or thousands, a 4G LTE modem with specially designed antennas for better signal capture can get the job done.

Not all fixed wireless is dedicated to the cellular phone industry. Some use licensed and unlicensed bands to deliver wireless Internet access over a limited area. You may have a small dish or other antenna installed on your building and aimed at the provider’s antenna. That gives you a strong signal regardless of weather conditions. Some private FWA providers can offer gigabit and higher bandwidths that feature low latency, jitter and packet loss just like fiber. Very high usage or even unlimited usage plans are available. Unlike new fiber installations, you can get service up and running in days rather than months or longer. Installation fees range from nothing to a reasonable one time fee.

It’s a Cable, But No Fiber Inside
The second good option to fiber optic service is cable broadband. Yes, this is the most recent incarnation of the Cable TV revolution. What’s new is that cable has gone far beyond its community antenna roots. Most of cable's infrastructure is now fiber. Surprised? Fiber is the only way these companies can transport all those TV channels and all the data.

So, if the cable companies use fiber why not just get them to connect you to their fiber network. They will, if you are close enough to a fiber access point and the construction issues aren’t too great. Otherwise, they’ll simply run the last few hundred feet or so with the familiar coaxial copper cable.

Can cable service on that coax really replace fiber? In a lot of cases, yes. The reason is that the cable modem standards have been massively upgraded over the years. Today’s DOCSIS 3.0, 3.1 and 4.0 modems deliver hundreds of Mbps up to 10 Gbps. That’s right. You can get some of the highest fiber optic speeds delivered via a DOCSIS 4.0 modem connected to a coax cable.

Will Non-Fiber Work For You?
In many, many cases, Fixed Wireless Access and cable broadband can make good substitutes for Ethernet over Fiber optic bandwidth. There are a couple of caveats, however. Wireless bandwidth isn’t as unlimited as what you can put through one or more fiber strands. As such, you may find that there are limits to your speed or usage, depending on what services are available for your location. Cable broadband is an inherently shared service, meaning that bandwidth may vary somewhat depending on how many users are on the cable and how much bandwidth they are using at any given time.

Even so, many businesses don’t need or need to pay for dedicated bandwidth of 1 to 100 Gbps. You may find that wireless and cable offer tremendous cost savings and can deliver all the performance you really need. Why not check out the range of bandwidth options available for your business now?

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

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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Ethernet Replacements For SONET

By: John Shepler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Connectivity You Need For Digital Transformation

By: John Shepler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Two Internet Connections For Consistent Phone Calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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