Monday, April 30, 2012

10 Mbps Up and Down

Have you heard that 10 Mbps is the new 1 Mbps? I've heard it said that 10 Mbps is the new T1. Those statements are pretty close, since T1 speed is 1.5 Mbps. Either way, there’s a move afoot to higher bandwidth levels and it should come as no surprise that 10 Mbps is becoming the new benchmark for SMB business bandwidth. Let’s see why.

Considering an increase in bandwith? Get the latest pricing now...T1 bandwidth established itself in the last couple of decades as the telephone industry made this digital technology available to businesses not related to telecom. One big impetus was the rise of the Internet. When the Internet opened up to business in the 90’s companies of all size suddenly got interested in getting online. That meant web servers, email and broadband connections. T1 lines were reasonably speedy for the time and readily available over twisted pair connections.

A lot has happened since the turn of the century. We still use web servers and email, but web pages have grown tremendously and much of the content is now audio, video and interactive. Commerce has moved online. Brochure pages have become full-fledged retail stores. Companies with both online and bricks & mortar operations may have common inventories that are managed in the cloud.

As you may well realize, the bandwidth of yore won’t cut it for today’s applications. Sure, a generation ago a T1 line could be shared by dozens of employees who thought they found the holy grail of high speed connections compared with the dial-up they were used to at home. Nowadays, 6 to 10 Mbps is considered about average for residential broadband. Some users are inclined to pay up for 2x or 3x that amount in order to support their insatiable video habit. You may not be sanctioning long periods of video watching at work, but you still need line speed to keep up productivity.

Look at what’s happening right now. Businesses large and small are relocating to the cloud. Data centers are going dark, as servers are moving to colo facilities and being sold off in favor of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). PBX systems are meeting a similar fate. The telephone closet is emptying out as companies go with hosted communications. What’s left is a phone on every desk plugged into the LAN along with a PC. These are augmented by smartphones and tablets. All that IT infrastructure is gone.

Well, it’s not really gone. It’s just located somewhere else and likely part of virtualized shared resources. What companies may forget in their zeal to gain the economic benefits of the cloud is that connectivity is now a choke point. The problems of running out of LAN bandwidth were solved so long ago that everyone takes lack of network congestion for granted. The memories of moving up from 1 Mbps to 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps and perhaps 1000 Mbps have become fuzzy and faded. Surprise! Those growing pains are being revisited in the form of connections to the cloud.

The bulk of traffic is now flowing back and forth to the cloud for companies that moved to hosted solutions. What that boils down to is that you need LAN quality connections to the WAN. Clearly T1 lines at 1.5 Mbps aren’t up to that. This is where 10 Mbps makes a lot more sense as a baseline. Don’t get too comfortable with that number. It’s going to be 100 Mbps before you know it.

For the moment, let’s take 10 Mbps as a baseline connection requirement. How do we get that without breaking the bank? There are a couple of easy growth paths that will give you 10 Mbps in both directions. That’s important with cloud services because you have data flowing both up and down. Your T1 line is symmetrical like that. It’s 1.5 Mbps upload and 1.5 Mbps download. Wouldn’t it make sense to simply hot rod a T1 line to get more speed?

Don’t laugh. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. You can’t jack up the speed of a single T1 line or it won’t be a T1 line anymore. In fact, it won’t run at all. T1 is a synchronized service that runs at 1.5 Mbps or shuts down. However, there is no reason you can’t run 2 T1 lines and combine their bandwidth. That process is called bonding. Bond 7 T1 lines together and you get 10.5 Mbps. Exactly what you need and a little more.

Another service that will get you to 10 x 10 Mbps bandwidth quite easily is Ethernet over Copper (EoC). This service runs on twisted pair telco cable, just like T1, so there is little or no construction cost involved in an upgrade. The modulation scheme is newer and trades distance for speed. That means that within a few miles of the telco central office you can easily get 10 Mbps and perhaps 20 or 30 Mbps over copper. Closer in that figure rises to DS3 levels of 45 Mbps. What’s more, EoC tends to be less costly on a per Mbps basis than bonded T1 lines.

Is your business straining its WAN connection to get the bandwidth you need? More speed may be less expensive than you think. Get competitive quotes for 10 Mbps bonded T1 and Ethernet over Copper services and see if now is the time to make the move.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter