By and large, until relatively recently, communications technology has been built upon the older copper cable-based wiring that was first put in place by telephone carriers. As a result, even though computer networks within organizations have improved over the years and developed newer and more effective ways of speeding up the flow of information, things have tended to lag and encounter problems the minute they’ve tried to get that information out of the building. In large part this was because different protocols were being used on private networks to what the wider telecoms networks could handle. Fortunately the development by carriers of an Ethernet service is simplifying matters and extending choice.
A large number of alternative technologies developed over the years to try and overcome data speed rates. Transport services such as Frame Relays, T1 lines, SONET/SDH and DS3 have all been used in differing circumstances to deliver high quality, tried and test services to support media streaming, online shopping, cinema bookings and online banking services. There’s nothing wrong with them as solutions, and they’re not about to disappear off the face of the planet. All the same, many businesses are turning to Fast Ethernet Services to simplify the networking requirements for communicating at all levels, and especially between geographically diverse locations.
Using the same switching and routing protocols between Local and Metro Ethernet implementations not only simplifies the management of existing sites, but speeds up the creation or relocation of facilities and offices. No longer do you have to install additional interface cards into your routers to make different networks compatible. Simply commission the new line to your location and when it has been made live, connect the same types of active equipment and configure them seamlessly to effectively extend your LAN.
Unlike most legacy carrier services, an Ethernet service creates a point to point connection between your locations. With effective configuration of your wider network, this extends across WANs and MANs to create truly multipoint networks that can have built in resiliency. From a management point of view, your network effectively becomes a large single bridged network with a switched service. With some care in setting things up, and a geographically diverse network, a cable can get damaged by road works, but the network will automatically reroute communications so that there is no downtime experienced by staff or customers.
Even better, Ethernet services are often comparatively cheaper to set up and maintain than their legacy technology equivalents. The differences in pricing can vary, but it’s not uncommon to see a 3Mbps Ethernet connection service being priced at the same level as a T1 1.5Mbps cable connection, and the price differences only get more marked as you progress to the dizzy heights of Gigabit Ethernet at 1000Mbps.
The biggest concern for any business looking to invest in Ethernet services is around the reliability of the connection. A close examination of the Service Level Agreements on offer can make all the difference here with so many competitively priced offerings available. Unlike ADSL technology or the lower end cable connections that offer speeds on a best endeavor basis, even the point to point speeds of Gigabit Ethernet are at a guaranteed level, affected only by the configurations of your switches and routers and the agreed throttling of your service. When considering the various options online, it’s best to look for these dedicated access arrangements. Some providers will also offer managed services, in a similar way that others offer managed hosting of applications or storage. Such providers will work to Service Level Agreements when managing your network locations.
By far the biggest upfront costs of implementing a solution are going to come from the initial installation fees for the fiber optic cables to your facilities. There may be savings to be had if you enter into longer term leases to offset the costs of installation, but you’ll be making a saving anyway by connecting directly to these service providers. This is due to the fact that these competitive carriers do not have to pay for sharing connections with the local telecommunications companies across Metro Ethernet connections, and so the cost is passed on to you.
In general then, start with an idea of what you are looking to achieve and then make sure to talk to each of the providers in your area who can provide similar a similar Ethernet service. The after-sales service is going to be what makes or breaks your experience and satisfaction with Fast Ethernet services, so pay close attention to those SLAs, plan carefully, and insist on a named account manager.
April 18, 2014, 12:15:30 pm, America/Chicago
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