Ethernet over Copper Cost and Performance The new standard in business bandwidth is looking like Ethernet over Copper.
By: John Shepler
Most businesses have some type of bandwidth connections for credit card verification, email, online searches, location to location data transfers, procurement, research and a host of other needs. These connections run the gamut from information services such as DSL, Cable, satellite and wireless, to telecom services like T1, DS3, OC3 and Ethernet over Fiber. The new player, with cost vs performance advantages you should consider, is Ethernet over Copper.
Why Ethernet over Copper?
First of all, this is a protocol that most closely matches what is running on nearly all networks today. That is, Ethernet. Most other services were designed back in day when voice was king and the public switched telephone network dominated worldwide communications. That’s no longer the case. The world has not only transformed from analog to digital, but has also moved from telephone conversations to email, texting, video downloads and streaming, search and Websites.
Voice Declining, Data Increasing
Voice landlines are on the decline. While users increasingly choose cellular calls, businesses are transforming desk phones to enterprise VoIP and carriers are quietly converting their core networks from circuit switched to packet switched architectures. Even the next generation of smartphones may choose VoIP over LTE rather than continue the proprietary GSM and CDMA voice channels. All of this means an increasing stampede toward Ethernet as the universal networking protocol.
Better Match To The LAN
Using Ethernet instead of some other telecom protocol improves network efficiency since no conversions are required and interfaces are simpler. It also enables Ethernet strategies such as layer 2 switching vs layer 3 routing to connect geographically separate LANs on one large bridged network. This strategy works not only in the metro area networks, but also nationwide through metro networks and worldwide through Ethernet exchanges. We’re not far from the day when Ethernet will the common denominator and all networks will be IP over whatever’s at the core.
Now you know why it makes sense to run Ethernet rather than some other protocol, such as T-carrier or SONET. But why Ethernet over Copper?
Uses Already Installed Copper
The beauty of Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is that it makes good use of existing infrastructure to avoid construction costs. Business phone lines and T1 line connect using twisted pair copper wire bundles that are routinely installed for every business. Ethernet over Copper uses the very same installed copper. How this works is that the EoC provider installs the EoC equipment at the central office and compatible customer premises equipment at your location. In between, they simply lease the unpowered or “dry” copper pair that is already in place. In most cases two or more pair are utilized.
Higher Bandwidth Than T1
There’s a correlation between how many copper pair are connected and the speed of your line service. The more pair, from 2 to 8 typically, the higher the bandwidth. The modulation efficiency of this equipment yields higher bandwidths than you get from T1 lines and typical DSL or satellite links. A very popular entry level EoC service is 2 or 3 Mbps. That’s easily increased to 10, 15 or 20 Mbps in most locations. Even 50 and 100 Mbps over copper is not unheard of.
The one tradeoff is speed for distance. The closer you are to the telco office where your copper terminates, the higher that bandwidth you can achieve. In unusual cases, your location is extended more than 2 or 3 miles and EoC service won’t work. In those cases, you may still be able to get Ethernet over DS1 using the same transmission technology as T1 lines.
It’s true that you can get higher download bandwidths using Cable broadband or some wireless services. However, upload bandwidth on these services tends to be maybe a tenth the download speed. Ethernet is symmetrical, meaning that upload and download speeds are the same. This is important if you upload large files or operate on-premises servers.
Much Better Pricing
Beyond technology, pricing is a big advantage for EoC vs T1 and even fiber optic services. Remember that Ethernet over Copper can deliver large bandwidths that delayor even avoid the expensive construction of fiber optic connections. EoC typically delivers twice the bandwidth of T1 for about the same price. At higher bandwidth levels, the cost savings is even more striking.
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