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Ethernet over Copper Reaches 400 Mbps
Technology advancements are making copper infrastructure competitive with fiber.

By: John Shepler

The bandwidth of Ethernet over Copper services has been setting new standards on a regular basis. It’s now at the point where you have to think seriously whether you really need to invest in fiber optic construction to light your building or if EoC will get the job done. MegaPath has just upped the ante for those doing copper/fiber tradeoffs. The new upper limit is 400 Mbps.

T1 Line Replacement
Many companies that are using Ethernet over Copper are doing so as T1 line replacements to get twice the bandwidth for the same cost. The 2x2 Mbps and 3x3 Mbps options are especially popular for this application. Other companies are moving to mid-band Ethernet where even bonded T1 cannot go. These are bandwidths in the 10 to 20 Mbps range, suitable for many mid-size operations. It’s the companies that have hundred or thousands of employees to support or are engaged in high bandwidth requirement applications that have been stuck with fiber as their only option.

The Challenge to Fiber
That’s all changed within the last year. More sophisticated modulation schemes and bonding to 8 copper pairs have pushed the bandwidth limit past 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps and even 200 Mbps. Now, MegaPath is offering a new service that can exceed 400 Mbps. This could be a strong option for companies that have specified OC-3 SONET fiber optic service at 155 Mbps and even OC-12 at 622 Mbps.

Does Asymmetrical Bandwidth Work?
To be fair, the 400 Mbps speed is only specified on the download path. Upload speeds could be a fraction of that. Does asymmetrical service make sense in a business environment? It could, depending on what you are doing with it. Internet access is typically asymmetrical in nature, with download speeds 10x what you use for upload. That’s because most internet usage at the desktop consists of sending keyboard requests for Web pages or files and then viewing the results or making other use of the data in applications. The principal is that the huge files are almost always coming to the user rather than being sent.

Bandwidth For Video Downloads and Streaming
That’s especially true for video, now the number one source of traffic on the Internet. It takes relative little upload activity to request the video files, even streaming, and a considerable amount of download bandwidth over extended periods of time.

Cloud Services Too
Some cloud applications also fall into this category. If you routinely send huge files to the cloud and expect little back, then the asymmetry is wrong for you. However, if most of your bandwidth activity is using large information packages delivered from the cloud, then an asymmetric bandwidth connection could work in your favor.

Symmetrical BW to 100 Mbps x 100 Mbps
MegaPath is also offering symmetrical Ethernet bandwidth up to 100 Mbps x 100 Mbpsfor point to point, point to multipoint and dedicated Internet access. Other optionsinclude Ethernet over DS1 and Ethernet over DS3 to address the inherent distance limitations of Ethernet over Copper service. As part of rolling out the new higher bandwidth services, MegaPath is increasing the number of central offices with EoC equipment from 200 to over 680 within a year.

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