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Ethernet Over Fiber Bandwidth
How Ethernet over Fiber bandwidth options enable demanding business applications to achieve optimum productivity

By: John Shepler

We’ve all heard that fiber optic bandwidth is the future, but are you sure it isn’t the right service for the present?

The Legacy Copper Infrastructure
Most business telecom services have traditionally been copper based. It starts with the binder cable that gets installed during building construction. All those twisted copper pair provide the multi-line telephone service that is as standardized in business as the metal file cabinet. Copper pair are also used to bring in ISDN digital trunking for PBX phone systems and T1 lines for broadband Internet and linking business locations point to point.

For many small and medium businesses, this is the telecom infrastructure. It’s been that way for decades. Why should it change?

Demand for Bandwidth is Increasing
To get an idea about where network speeds are going, take a look at the broadband services offered to consumers. Both DSL and Cable left the 1-2 Mbps download speed is the dust years ago. Consumers now expect at least 3 to 6 Mbps, and many clamor for 10, 20, 30 or 50 Mbps. Cable is getting to these levels with new DOCSIS 3.0 modems. Verizon is offering double digit broadband as a matter of course over it’s FiOS fiber to the home service.

If consumers are getting used to high bandwidth Internet services, some using fiber optic service, it should be no surprise the pressure on business users to expand their network bandwidth is increasing. It’s not just the businesses generating bandwidth-demanding content for the consumer market. Business applications are getting more sophisticated to improve worker productivity, including audio, video and interactivity. They’re also headed to the cloud. Processes that always put demands on company local networks now put those demands on the outside connections.

Copper Bandwidth is Limited, Fiber Unlimited
Once you get beyond 10 Mbps or so, in becomes increasingly necessary to bring in fiber optic service. Ethernet over Copper can work up to 50 Mbps in special situations, close to carrier points of presence. That’s the limit, and it only works for a minority of business locations. What you want and need is fiber optic service that is almost bandwidth unlimited.

But what about the cost? This is where the newer Ethernet over Fiber services have become the high bandwidth solutions of choice. Ethernet is generally less costly than traditional telecom bandwidth on a per Mbps basis, sometimes dramatically less expensive. Scalable bandwidth options are readily available, once you have the fiber connection. That means you can start off with 10 Mbps Ethernet and easily upgrade to 20, 30, 40 or 50 Mbps as long as terminal equipment will support those port speeds. The fiber itself will take you to Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps and on up to Gigabit Ethernet or GigE, perhaps even to 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 10 GigE. Don’t roll your eyes. The days of needing those bandwidth levels are not that far off.

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