Monday, March 17, 2014

Your 50 Mbps WAN Bandwidth Options

By: John Shepler

The 50 Mbps bandwidth level has become very popular lately because of business requirements for cloud services, remote data center access, big data files, ecommerce, high resolution image transfer and video content distribution. You should know that there are several options to acquire 50 Mbps bandwidth connectivity. Let’s take a look at the advantages and limitations of each.

DS3 & T3
The classic telecom service at this level is DS3, also known as T3. It was developed by the telephone companies to transport large numbers of simultaneous calls between switching centers. DS3 actually runs at 45, not 50 Mbps, but this is close enough for many applications. DS3 is a time synchronous channel technology, not packet based. Therefore you need a DS3 interface module for your router. You may also acquire a managed router provided by your service provider to take care of this protocol conversion.

Copper / Fiber Hybrid
DS3 is actually a hybrid fiber & copper technology. It is delivered to the curb over fiber optic cable and then connected to your equipment using coaxial cables for transmit and receive. The same fiber optic cables that pass your location can also deliver true fiber bandwidth at the OC3 level. In fact DS3 likely rides as one signal on an OC3 carrier.

OC3 Fiber Optic
If you want the entire OC3 service, it runs at 155 Mbps, the equivalent of 3 DS3’s plus overhead. Some carriers will install OC3 but rate limit the bandwidth to 45 or 50 Mbps. If you don’t need more bandwidth than this, there are some cost savings involved. You may also have the option to upgrade to the full OC3 capability when you need it.

Carrier Ethernet
The new competitor to OC3 is Carrier Ethernet. This is an extension of the Ethernet that runs on your company network but scaled up for long distance transmission. The interface with your equipment is easy. You simply plug into an Ethernet connector installed by the service provider. Carrier Ethernet can be provided over twisted pair copper telco wiring or fiber optic cable. While it is possible to transmit 50 Mbps Ethernet over copper for limited distances, it is far more likely that you’ll have this service delivered over fiber.

DS3, OC3 & Ethernet Compared
Let’s compare DS3, OC3 and Ethernet over Fiber. All three will give you 45 to 50 Mbps in dedicated, symmetrical bandwidth. All three are highly reliable and come with service level agreements. DS3 and OC3 have been around longer and may be easier to find. Carrier Ethernet is newer, but where available it often has a significant cost advantage. It is also easier to scale Ethernet bandwidth up and down as you need to. Popular Ethernet bandwidths range from 10 Mbps on up to 10 Gbps, with 50 and 100 Mbps now commonly used in business.

The Cable Broadband Alternative
An alternative service called D3 or DOCSIS 3 is provided by cable companies. This is the same technology now used for residential cable broadband. The business version runs on the same cable but has options like static IP addresses and higher priority customer service. The advantage of D3 is that you get a lot of bandwidth for the money. For half what you’d pay for DS3 or Ethernet, you can get 50 Mbps business cable broadband. However this isn’t the same type of bandwidth. The total bandwidth on the cable is shared among many users, so your line speed will constantly vary. It is also asymmetrical, meaning that your download speed may be 50 Mbps, but your upload speed may be limited to 5 Mbps or so. This isn’t a problem for email or Web access, but may not work for other applications. Also, this service is provided on a “best effort” basis with no service level agreements. Availability of this service is limited to locations near the main cable run.

How to Choose?
Which type of bandwidth will work best for your business needs? Get advice and fast quotes on 50 Mbps WAN bandwidth or service from 10 Mbps on up to 10 Gbps and higher, please call toll free (888) 848-8749 or enter your inquiry.

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