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Ethernet Provider Competition Heats Up
Ethernet service providers are in hot competition with each other and legacy telecom services, offering bandwidth and cost opportunities for you

By: John Shepler

Bandwidth demand is up, but budgets aren’t. One new technology that addresses that situation is Ethernet WAN connections. They’ve become a fierce competitor to legacy T1 lines and, in many locations, it’s Ethernet provider vs Ethernet provider fighting “tooth and nail” to make the best offer.

What's New About Ethernet?
Why all the hoopla about a protocol that’s been running on LANs for decades? It’s the standardization of Ethernet as a carrier technology by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) that’s catapulted Ethernet services from LAN to MAN to WAN. In literally a matter of a few years, Ethernet has gone from a niche product to the transport service of choice.

Why Ethernet Is The Hot Bandwidth Service
Ethernet has some big advantages over legacy technologies. First, it provides seamless connectivity between nearly all company networks and the outside world. No special interface circuitry or protocol conversion is required. Just plug into a standard Ethernet connector and you are good to go.

Ethernet services are readily scalable
The same standard speeds found on Local Area Networks are supported. These are 10 Mbps Ethernet, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet and 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet. More and more, 10 GigE service is also becoming available. Most Ethernet providers also provide incremental bandwidths from 2 Mbps on up. There’s a huge gap between T1 at 1.5 Mbps and T3 at 45 Mbps. Ethernet services offer many intermediate speeds to choose from.

In fact, scalability is a big selling point for Ethernet. It’s common for companies to order an Ethernet port that can support their anticipated bandwidth needs, but then only buy the bandwidth they need right now. When business picks up, it’s fast and easy to have the service provider increase bandwidth right up to the capacity of the installed port.

Ethernet over Copper
Ethernet delivery comes in two primary forms. One is Ethernet over Copper, also called EoC. Multiple copper telephone pair are used to deliver this service within a few miles of the nearest carrier point of presence. Popular bandwidths are 3 Mbps and 10 Mbps, although you might get as much as 50 Mbps if you are near a carrier POP. EoC makes installation fast and easy. Nearly every business has a telco bundle with multiple copper pair available.

Ethernet over Fiber
EoF or Ethernet over Fiber is used to provide the higher bandwidths of 50 Mbps and above. That includes the popular 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps levels. Larger corporations and organizations may opt for 10 GigE or even 40 Gbps and beyond.

Lower Cost Too
What’s got service providers in hot competition is more than these benefits, however. The most attractive feature of Ethernet service is that it tends to be much less costly than traditional telecom services. Getting twice the bandwidth for the same price is common. At higher speeds and in areas of greater competition, the difference between Ethernet and other options can be jaw dropping.

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