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Fast Ethernet over Copper Connections
You can now get high network bandwidth connections without fiber construction.

By: John Shepler

Fast Ethernet has been a networking standard for many years. You may know it as 100Mbps Ethernet speed. Nearly every computer, router and switch now has a Network Interface Card (NIC) rated at 10/100 Mbps or 10/100/1000 Mbps. Many smallernetworks find 100 Mbps more than adequate. Larger networks use 1000 Mbps or Gigabit Ethernet (GigE). The largest corporate and other high performance networks have at least part of their infrastructure running at 10,000 Mbps or 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GigE). Its when you leave the LAN and connect to metro or long distance networks that things slow to a crawl.

Advantage of Fast Network Connections
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the same network speed regardless of distance? That way it wouldn’t matter where you were transferring files to or from. The time to transfer would be independent of distance. This is especially important to companies with multiple business locations. The illusion of everyone being on the same network is shattered when it takes ten or a hundred times as long to get information from the remote site as it does within your own building.

Breaking The Cost Barrier
What has stood in the way of upgrading network connections to a common speed is cost and availability. Fast Ethernet for MAN and WAN connections have been cost prohibitive for smaller companies. If your location isn’t on a fiber path, getting bandwidth above 10 Mbps or so has been out of the question. Well, not any more.

The PAETEC Solution
PAETEC, a major network services provider, is blazing new ground by deploying Fast Ethernet connections over copper as well as fiber. If your buildings are within the service footprint of this new technology you can avoid the budget breaking costs of fiber construction completely. PAETEC uses multiple bonded copper pairs within the same telco conduit to provide bandwidths as high as 200 Mbps.

Uses Already Installed Copper
Chances are that the multi-pair copper conduit is already installed in your building for multi-line telephone and lower speed services like T1. The beauty of T1 lines are that they use standard twisted pair copper telco wire. The major limitation is that the bandwidth is fixed at 1.5 Mbps. You can bond T1s together to get higher bandwidths, up to about 10 or 12 Mbps. Technically this works just fine, but it gets pricey because the cost is the price of a T1 line times the number of lines needed.

More Cost Effective
Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is much more cost effective. First, the advanced modulation techniques support higher bandwidths per pair of wire used. Second, the cost does not multiply as fast at bonding T1 lines. Third, you can now get Fast Ethernet bandwidth using EoC.

Distance Limitation
The one limitation of Ethernet over Copper technology is distance. The higherbandwidths require you to be near the central office that connects to your copper bundle. That’s perfect for businesses with metropolitan locations, especially in major business districts. If you are located out in the boonies, you’ll have fewer options.

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