Monday, April 09, 2012

Fiber Optic vs Copper 50 Mbps

Companies looking to connect multiple employees to the Internet or transfer large files, especially high resolution digital images, need more than single digit bandwidth. They traditionally have traded in their T1 lines for DS3 service at 45 Mbps. There are more options now for bandwidth levels around 50 Mbps using both copper and fiber optic connections.

Your options for 50 Mbps include both copper and fiber optic service...DS3 is thought of as a copper wireline service because you connect to it with a pair of small diameter coaxial cables. The familiar BNC connectors are the standard interface for DS3 modules. It’s rare, though, that your DS3 service is being transported by copper. DS3 service ran on T3 lines when it was invented. These could be large rigid coax or even microwave transmission. Now it’s common to bring DS3 to your door or to the curb outside using fiber optic cable. DS3 doesn’t natively run on fiber. Instead, it is multiplexed onto an OC-3 SONET service over the fiber. A single OC-3 can transport three DS3 services. They are dropped off at their destinations using an add/drop multiplexer.

45 Mbps DS3 service is well established and readily available. It’s facing competition, however, from fixed wireless microwave transmission, Ethernet over Copper and Ethernet over Fiber services. Fixed wireless is typically found in the downtown business districts of major metropolitan areas. The transmission distance is short and you need line of sight from the provider’s tower to your building. If it works at all, you can easily get 50 Mbps or higher bandwidths delivered wirelessly.

Ethernet over Copper started out as a way to get more bandwidth at lower costs than T1 lines. The beauty of Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is that it uses the very same twisted pair copper telco wiring that transports T1. What’s different is the terminal equipment on each end that employes a different modulation scheme than T1 uses. EoC has a simpler interface to your network because it is already in the Ethernet protocol and doesn’t need a conversion to connect to nearly all local networks. Even the connector used in the handoff from WAN to LAN is the familiar RJ-45. Just plug it into your router and you’re good to go.

Does it work? Ethernet is growing every year as a T1 line replacement. Entry level bandwidth is 2 or 3 Mbps instead of T1’s 1.5 Mbps. The prices are similar, so you can wind up getting 50 to 100% more bandwidth for the same money. The real excitement, however, is that single digital bandwidths is where Ethernet over Copper starts. It extends to 10, 20, 30 and even 50 Mbps or higher. In rare cases, you can get 100 Mbps or 200 Mbps bandwidth delivered over twisted pair copper.

What’s the trick? The technology trades distance for speed. Very close to the telco central office, you get high bandwidths. A few miles away, the bandwidth has degraded to the point that service is impractical. That sounds worse than it is in reality because many, if not most, business locations are within a couple of miles of the office that terminates their copper lines. If that office is set up with EoC equipment, you may well get 50 Mbps over 8 pair of twisted copper wires at a cost that is less than you’ll pay for DS3 service.

The next step up is Ethernet over Fiber or EoF. Like EoC, EoF keeps the signals in the Ethernet protocol end to end. There are no conversions necessary to meet traditional telecom transmission standards. As you might suspect, fiber optic cables can bring in just about any bandwidth you want. That’s 1 Gbps for sure and often 10 Gbps. Some carriers can now supply 40 Gbps if you need that much. I’m sure that 100 Gbps isn’t far behind. In fact, most core networks are now upgrading to 100 Gbps as a standard.

Certainly 50 Mbps Ethernet over Fiber service is no trick. If your building is already lit for fiber optic service or nearby, construction costs will be little to none. If the nearest fiber is some distance away, there are going to be significant costs to connect you. Sometimes the carrier will incur the costs themselves if they think there is enough bandwidth to be sold in that location. Otherwise, you get the bill.

Let’s say that you can get Ethernet over Fiber but don’t need and certainly don’t want to pay for anything like Gigabit Ethernet. The thing to do then is have a Fast Ethernet or 100 Mbps port installed. You can get whatever bandwidth you want up to and including 100 Mbps over that FastE port. An advantage of Ethernet services is that they are easy to scale. Order the 50 Mbps you need today and crank that up to 75 or 100 Mbps when the time comes that you need a bandwidth boost. It will be fast and easy with EoF.

Are you interested in higher bandwidths than you can get with T1 or bonded T1 service, but concerned about the costs involved? Get current pricing and availability of 50 Mbps fiber and copper options for your business location. You may be pleasantly surprised with your service options.

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

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