Monday, December 18, 2023

Cost Saving Shared Fiber, Wireless and Coax

By: John Shepler

You need connectivity but are feeling the pinch of inflation. Is there any way to get a business online and not break the bank? Sure there is. If they work for you, shared bandwidth wireless, cable coax and fiber optic connections are available at bargain prices. Let’s have a look at these.

Low cost shared bandwidth options for your business.What is Shared Bandwidth?
You are probably too young to remember telephone party lines, but how about roommates at school? That’s the sharing economy. It’s based on the idea that if something is expensive you can still have it as long as you join with others to foot the bill.

Internet connections can be had the same way. A fully dedicated high speed symmetrical fiber optic link can run into the big bucks every month. If that’s what you must have, then you’ll just have to come up with the lease fee. But, if your usage isn’t all that demanding, you can probably share the line with others, not limited to users within your company, to split the cost.

Now, this is where shared bandwidth services differ from the old party lines. Back in the day, a single analog phone line would serve multiple households in the same area. When you picked up the handset, you might hear a dial tone or you might hear someone else’s conversation already in progress.

The polite thing to do was hang up and wait awhile before you tried again. More often that not, curious individuals would simply cover the mouthpiece and eavesdrop on the call.

Shared bandwidth isn’t really like that… for the most part. You and another customer aren’t going to see each other’s traffic on your screen. The routing in the system keeps your data streams separate. However, all your bits are intermingled on the same line. A clever hacker can figure out how to monitor whatever traffic they can access.

The way around that limitation is encryption. Encrypt all your traffic and you’ve created a secure tunnel through the public Internet. That’s critical for using WiFi hotspots, but important for any shared access or easily tapped-into connection. Most websites and email services have gone to secure connections that are encrypted, but all your file transfers should also have this layer of security.

Shared Bandwidth Via Coax
Cable broadband is the originator of the coaxial copper connection. This standard was originally designed for analog cable TV and community antennas. Eventually a cable connector came standard on the back of TV sets. Later, Cable providers became Internet Service Providers by developing a modem that could connect to their coaxial line and share the bandwidth between TV and Internet.

The modem technology that does this is called DOCSIS for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. The most common version is 3.1, which is capable of multiple Gigabits on the downline side. The newest is 4.0, which can support 10 Gbps downstream and 6 Gbps upstream.

Shared Bandwidth Via Wireless
Smartphones have had excellent Internet service starting with 3G and 4G LTE. The small screen requirements are easily supported and were quite useful even with the old 2G standard. The standards also serve tablet computers, laptops and in some cases desktop computers, especially when other ISPs are offline. The bandwidth is often enough from a shared smartphone connection. The one limitation for desktop usage is that you might run up against monthly data limits.

With 5G service, cellular providers have begun promoting the use of their Internet service at fixed locations. They even have a name for this: Fixed Wireless Access. Instead of sharing your phone with your desktop, you buy a 5G gateway that may offer an Ethernet port for your network or WiFi hotspot. It connects to the provider like a phone, but without the mobility or voice service. There is simply an incremental charge to your cellphone bill each month. If you have good signal strength, you may get bandwidth of a hundred or two hundred Mbps without a wired connection.

Shared Bandwidth Via Fiber
Fiber optic service used to be only for major corporations and priced accordingly. Now fiber is so widespread that you can get Ethernet over Fiber Dedicated Internet Access in most reasonably populated areas. Bandwidths are available from 10 Mbps up to 10 Gbps and even 100 Gbps in major metro locations.

Fiber Internet is highly desirable and prices have dropped dramatically over the years. Even so, you may still want a lower cost option. Did you know that you can still have fiber for a bargain price? The technology involved is called PON or Passive Optical Networking. The provider takes that high bandwidth dedicated fiber line and divvies it up among 32 users using a passive splitter. Each customer still gets a fiber line, but the bandwidth on that line is being shared among multiple users just like cable broadband. In fact, cable companies are pioneers in building out this technology. You get fiber bandwidths, but with pricing that is more similar to cable services.

Limitations of Shared Bandwidth
While you won’t be seeing your neighbors messages popping up on your screen, you will likely still feel the effects of sharing. During periods of heavy usage, the service slows down. You might even detect congestion that brings everything to a crawl and then, just like with traffic jams, magically disappears. VoIP phone calls can break up. Video conferences can stutter or freeze. Cloud applications can become sluggish.

Another characteristic of shared bandwidth connections is that they are usually asymmetrical. That means that the download speed is much higher than the upload speed. Typically, a factor of ten or so. For Internet browsing or email, this may make no difference. It could impact video conferences and large file transfers up to cloud storage.

You can improve on this with a dedicated Internet access or with a software defined wide area network or SD-WAN. This is a technique for combining multiple Internet connections. The SD-WAN controller assigns traffic to the most appropriate link, with sensitive applications like phone calls getting the highest priority on the fastest paths. SD-WAN can let you combine a fast shared and low cost line with a small dedicated line. The result can be a service that gives you all the performance you need at a lower cost than a high speed dedicated fiber line.

What bandwidth service is most appropriate for your business? Find out what shared and dedicated Internet and private line services are available at better prices for your particular location.

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

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