Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Level 3 Will Light Your Building

The technology tide has turned, making Ethernet the WAN (Wide Area Networking) transport protocol of choice. It's the defacto standard for LAN networks. What makes more sense than extending your LAN to remote locations or the Internet using the same networking standards you use in-house?

Even more compelling is the cost advantage as your bandwidth needs increase. At the low end of the spectrum, T1 lines rule the roost with an average lease price around $450, dropping into the 300's in major metro areas. As a point of reference, you're paying $292.20 per Mbps for that 1.54 Mbps T1 connection, also referred to as a DS1. Moving up to DS3 service at 45 Mbps and you pay an average price of $5,000 per month. Yes, the cost has gone up more than 10 times, but the bandwidth has increased about 30 times. You're paying about 1/3 as much per Mbps, or $111.11/Mbps. Those are the going rates for conventional TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) telecom digital line services. But what about Ethernet?

Hold on to your hat. Instead of selecting a DS3 at 45 Mbps, what if you instead chose Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps. How much more would that cost. Here's where the tide turns. Instead of costing more, Ethernet costs less. That Fast Ethernet connection will run you around $2,000 a month or just $20 per Mbps. That's over 2x the bandwidth for 5x less money.

What's going on here? Is there a trick involved? Yeah, that trick is being able to connect directly to a competitive carrier's network without having to gain access through local telephone company facilities. That "local loop" is pretty much locked in for TDM services, especially copper that is almost universally owned by the Incumbent local phone companies. Fiber optic networks are a different matter. The incumbents also own a lot of fiber. Most of it is set up for traditional TDM services such as SONET that's backward compatible down to the individual DS0 voice channel.

Ethernet is a different game. Competitive carriers set up their own POPs or Points of Presence, analogous to the phone companies' COs or Central Offices. Level 3 is one such carrier. They own over 50,000 miles of their own national network plus 24,000 miles of metropolitan fiber network. They're so big, they even sell bandwidth to telephone companies and other carriers. But they'll also sell to you at very attractive lease prices. What's more, if you're building isn't already lit for Ethernet carrier access, they may very well make the connection.

Being "lit" or wired for fiber optic WAN services is the new utility in demand. Many buildings in metropolitan areas are already lit for fiber, meaning that fiber optic cable has been brought in, terminated, and communicating via laser light wavelengths. Is your building ready? Use this fiber optic service search engine to find out.

Not lit? Don't despair just yet. Level 3 will light your building if it's worth their while. If you are within 200 feet of their network and will contract to use 10 Mbps or more of service, they'll likely hook you up. For buildings between 200 and 500 feet away, they need 100 Mbps of service committed. Out to a mile, it is still possible to get connected, but you have to pony up for something over 100 Mbps. It's likely that other tenants in your building also want high speed bandwidth they can afford, so perhaps you can pool your requirements to come up with a sufficient bandwidth commitment to get the building lit for Ethernet services. See how close Ethernet service is to you.

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

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