Is OC3 Bandwidth Still a Good
Choice? How to evaluate high bandwidth
business telecom services and choose between OC3 over SONET and
Before there was Ethernet there was SONET. Until
just the last year or so, if you wanted high bandwidth voice,
video and data transport networking your entry point was OC3
SONET at 155 Mbps. The cost was a small fortune, but if you needed
to get your data package across town or across the country instantly
and not overnight SONET could get the job done. But what about
now? It OC3 bandwidth still the right choice?
Surprisingly, the answer may be yes. Let's
take a look at what's available in the way of high bandwidth
SONET as Fiber Optic Bandwidth
SONET or Synchronous Optical NETwork is a fiber optic transmission
system based on TDM or Time Division Multiplexing. It's tried
and true. Developed by the telephone companies to increase the
capacity of their digital trunks beyond the T1 and T3 lines of
the T-Carrier system, SONET takes line services from twisted
pair copper onto fiber optic strands. Usually, SONET is implemented
as a pair of redundant rings with an automatic failover mechanism.
If one path fails, the other automatically picks up the traffic
within 50 mSec.
The built-in protection and synchronised
TDM channels make SONET ideal for carrier grade digitized telephone
call trunking. But SONET can also transport packetized data including
voice, video and data. One use of SONET fiber optic circuits
is to transport DS1 signals for T1 lines and DS3 signals for
T3 lines over long distances. They can be split off or demultiplexed
at the drop off destination. If you have a long haul T1 line,
chances are that it is carried at least part of the way on fiber
optic channels even though your termination is twisted pair copper.
The SONET family of line rates spans OC-1
at 52 Mbps on up to OC-768 at 40 Gbps. But in practice, only
a few optical carrier levels are standard and readily available.
These are OC-3 at 155 Mbps, OC-12 at 622 Mbps, OC-48 at 2.5 Gbps,
OC -192 at 10 Gbps and OC-768 at 40 Gbps. The higher speed services
are typically used as carrier backbones and may not be available
to business users.
Carrier Ethernet - The New Guy in Town
So, what competes with SONET? Carrier Ethernet, also known as
Metro Ethernet, is the new kid on the block. Ethernet WAN or
Wide Area Networks are intended to transport packets and don't
present the channelization of SONET services. To the end user
this fine point may be irrelevant. Both SONET and Ethernet usually
connect through a specialized router interface designed for the
particular line technology being used.
Standard Ethernet WAN services mirror the
standard Ethernet LAN speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps and
10 Gbps. But some carriers, such as XO Communications, offer
incrementally finer Ethernet bandwidths that include 20, 30,
40, 50, 60, 70, 200, 300, 400, or 500 Mbps.
Carrier Ethernet's big selling points are
it's standard Ethernet interface and often dramatically lower
costs. The cost advantage is more due to aggressive marketing
by competitive carriers than any inherent cost advantage of the
technology. But as a user, you can benefit by taking the best
deal that is available for the level of service you need. In
some cases, that can amount to thousands or even tens of thousands
of dollars per month in lease costs.
Ethernet or SONET? Which Should You
So, does that mean that Ethernet is always a better deal than
SONET? Often, but not always. In some cases, Ethernet service
isn't even available, but OC3 services are well established.
You should also know that the same competitive cost pressures
that have made Ethernet WAN services available at lower costs
have also made SONET services much cheaper than they used to
be. OC3 is no longer an exotic service suitable for only Internet
service providers and the largest corporations. A smaller video
production company can easily require OC3 level bandwidth at
155 Mbps or Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps. OC12 and OC48 are not
beyond the reach of larger technology based companies.
Find Fiber Optic Bandwidth Services Now Optical carrier
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