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Gigabit Ethernet Internet Access Speed
1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet connections are available and affordable for most business use.

By: John Shepler

Internet access demands are on an upward spiral, thanks to a greater mix of video content, big data, large web pages, increasing use of cloud services, and other technical advances. Access speeds have gone from under 1 Kbps to 1 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and now 1 Gbps. Can 10 Gbps be far behind? That day will surely come, but for now let’s take a look at how businesses can connect to the Internet with Gbps bandwidth and without breaking the bank.

Beyond Limited SONET Options
Until recently, the only way to get hundreds or thousands of Mbps worth of bandwidth connectivity was to bring in SONET/SDH fiber optic service. Your choices have been OC-12 at 622 Mbps, OC-24 at 1.2 Gbps and OC-48 at 2.5 Gbps. OC-24 isn’t always available, so you may be stuck with OC-48 as your only choice if you need to approach the Gigabit per second speed threshold.

What Carrier Ethernet Offers
A newer service option is Carrier Ethernet. Standard service levels match the standard LAN speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps, but much finer increments are also available. You may find steps of 1 Mbps below 10 Gbps, 10 Mbps up to 100 Mbps and 100 Mbps up to 1 Gbps. It’s also possible to get 250 Mbps, 750 Mbps and similar speeds. It all depends on the service provider and how granular they care to offer bandwidth options.

Bandwidth Easily Scaled
In addition to many more speed increments, Carrier Ethernet is designed to be more rapidly scalable than traditional telecom services. Instead of waiting weeks or months for a service level change to be implemented, you can often get your bandwidth cranked up with nothing more than a phone call to your service provider. That change can be made in a matter of hours or days. The day is not far off when you can get provisioning while-you-wait or do it yourself through a web portal.

Ethernet vs SONET
Why is Carrier Ethernet able to do this while SONET is not? SONET service levels are strictly defined and each has its own hardware interface. For instance, the plug-in module for your router to connect with OC-12 service is different from the module for OC-48 service. There needs to be truck roll and likely other system changes to upgrade your fiber optic bandwidth even though the fiber itself remains unchanged.

What is Carrier Ethernet?
Carrier Ethernet is Ethernet just like you run on your LAN, although extended for long haul deployment and maintenance. LAN network cards (NICs) are generally rated for several bandwidth levels, such as 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and 1000 Mbps. You can connect to your network with any of these, up to the limit that the cabling and switches can handle. With Carrier Ethernet, it’s the port speed that sets the upper limit. If you order a 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet port, you can get any bandwidth level up to 100 Mbps. If you order a 1,000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet port, you can get any bandwidth level up to 1 Gbps.

Gigabit Ethernet Option
Gigabit Ethernet or 1 Gbps Ethernet service is becoming very popular, especially for medium and larger size enterprises. What if you see this coming in the next year or two but aren’t quite ready yet? That’s where fractional Gigabit service can match your needs today without limiting you tomorrow. Get that Gigabit Ethernet port installed but order 250, 500, 750 Mbps or whatever bandwidth meets your needs today. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you can quickly ramp up that WAN speed without having to pay for unneeded bandwidth right now.

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