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Upgrading Bandwidth on a Budget
How to increase the speed of your business bandwidth connections without an increase in cost.

By: John Shepler

Is your network sluggish? Are slow file transfers, telephone calls breaking up, pauses in audio and video streaming, unpredictable delays in getting a response from cloud services, and slow web page loading getting on your nerves?

Is Bandwidth The Answer?
You may well need more bandwidth. You don’t necessarily need to increase the speed of your internal LAN. It’s more likely that your outside, or WAN, connection just isn’t getting the job done anymore.

How Can You Tell?
It’s a likely problem if you’ve had the same level of service for years, yet your business has grown or you’re using a higher percentage of multimedia content than you used to. Even a decade ago, T1 lines were standard for small and some medium size businesses. At that time consumer broadband speeds were also a few Mbps. Users were happy because email and Web pages were relatively small. Many business applications were things like credit card verification and after-hours inventory updates.

Look what’s happened recently. Emails are huge. Why? Because they often contain photos and other high resolution images. Web pages are more interactive and more visual that they’ve ever been. Many contain embedded video players.

The Cloud In The Room
This is nothing compared with the growth of the cloud. Cloud services offer near infinite capacity, ease of scaling up and down as needed, and no requirement for capital investments or maintenance activities. This has proven an irresistible combination for many businesses. What gets lost in all the excitement are the increased bandwidth requirements.

What’s happened is that all the traffic that used to flow effortlessly through your Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet Local Area Network now has to be transported up to the cloud and back down. All those packets have to go through a carrier network for hundreds or even thousands of miles. They have to do that with a minimal time delay and at a price you can afford.

Declining Cost per Mbps
Fortunately, WAN bandwidth services have gotten a lot more competitive, lower in cost and available in a wider variety of options during this same period of change. You may not be aware of it if you’ve simply kept renewing your old line contract or paying month to month since it expired. There’s an excellent chance that you can get the bandwidth you need today without having to jack up your budget… if you’re willing to look at alternatives.

New Quotes Needed
The first thing you need to do is get a fresh set of competitive quotes. By competitive, I mean pricing from as many carriers as possible that serve your location. In the heart of metropolitan business districts you’ll have lots of options. Farther out there will be fewer choices, but almost always two or more. This works to your advantage because the more competition there is, the lower the prices for the exact same service. A number of carriers may have entered your marketplace when you weren’t looking.

Expanded Options
You may also have more options for getting the same job done. For instance, Ethernet over Copper runs on the same wires as T1 service. It offers the same highly reliable dedicated and symmetrical bandwidth. But, Ethernet over Copper can give you twice or more bandwidth than the older T1 technology for the same cost. You may also be able to get higher bandwidth levels with the newer Ethernet services.

How About Fiber?
Impossible to get where you are located? Way too costly? Perhaps not anymore. Fiber buildups have quietly accelerated and carriers have expanded their service footprints around the country. Some of this is driven by the cell phone industry that needs fiber bandwidth to their towers to support 4G LTE. Other runs have been built by the Cable industry that needs much higher bandwidth to deliver digital video channels and video on demand.

The bottom line is that all these fiber operators have bandwidth to spare and they are in fierce competition to get buildings “lit” with their network. They want your business a lot more than they did some years ago. It’s not unusual to find several fiber optic services available where there were none the last time you looked.

New Fiber Options
Like copper-based bandwidth, fiber service is also available in two technologies. The legacy service is SONET, with bandwidth levels such as OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48. Ethernet over Fiber is the newer technology and offers highly scalable fiber services in a wide variety of bandwidth options from 10 Mbps on up to 10 Gbps in most areas. Some locations can now get 100 Gbps if needed.

Just like Ethernet over Copper, Ethernet over Fiber has a cost advantage over SONET. It’s not unusual to get twice and much bandwidth or more for the same cost as your old Optical Carrier contract.

How Much More Bandwidth Can You Get Now?
You may feel that you are limited in bandwidth by budget constraints. It’s possible, even likely, that the budget you have now can be worth 2x, 3x or more high performance business bandwidth in today’s market. Don’t wonder if this is the case. Find out now by checking out the range of bandwidth options and competitive pricing for copper and fiber services available at your business location.

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