Last Mile Fiber For Better Internet Performance The key to better business Internet performance lies in the last mile connection.
By: John Shepler
What is the most critical part of the Internet? To you, the user, it’s that last mile connection to your place of business. That’s usually the limiting factor and where most of the problems are. What you need is a better connection, and fiber is the gold standard.
Last Mile Limitations
Don’t get me wrong. There are no guarantees on the Internet. Your priority is the same as everyone else’s. When nodes get congested or name servers go down, the people connecting on a shoestring and the well-healed are both affected. That said, the Internet has matured to the point where the backbone networks are highly reliable and have plenty of bandwidth.
If you need the ultimate in connection quality between multiple business locations, you need to look to private solutions, such as point to point dedicated connections and MPLS networks. These have much stricter control of bandwidth, latency, jitter and packet loss. They are pricey and they don’t connect to the general public. That’s why the Internet is indispensable for nearly all businesses for sales and customer service.
The last mile connection is where pricing and quality vary all over the place. The biggest differentiator is shared vs dedicated bandwidth. Dedicated bandwidth means that you have exclusive use of the line capacity. What you don’t use simply idles until it is needed.
Seems like that’s the way it should always be, but the Internet wouldn’t have expanded geometrically the way it has if everyone had to pay for a dedicated line. Instead, carriers such as cable and wireless companies, buy high capacity dedicated lines and then multiplex them to share among many users. The idea is that not everyone is online at the same time and even if they are, most are not uploading or downloading at a given moment.
Prior to so many people working at home, most of the heavy consumer activity took place in the evening and business use was limited to daytime. Now, daytime demand is heavy for everyone using shared bandwidth. When it gets too heavy, line speed for everyone is reduced until the load lightens.
Dedicated High Speed Connections
Your best performance will come through a dedicated, symmetrical high speed link. Symmetrical means that upload and download speeds are the same. That tends to be case with dedicated lines. Shared bandwidth tends to be asymmetrical with much higher download than upload speeds.
You also want to connect through a top tier Internet Service Provider. These are larger companies that pay to connect directly to the Internet backbone. Smaller ISPs pay transport fees to the larger companies to connect through them to the Internet. It’s one more link in the chain.
You can get dedicated lines in both copper and fiber technologies. There are some microwave service providers who can deliver an equivalent connection wirelessly. These tend to be short range line-of-sight connections in major metro areas.
Copper solutions include the traditional T1 and DS3 (also called T3) lines. Newer technology is Ethernet over Copper which uses the same twisted pair cabling as T1 lines, but can support much higher speeds, although bandwidth tends to decrease with distance to the central office.
Fiber used to be a rare and expensive proposition, but that has all changed in recent years. Even cable companies have deployed fiber as their main transport network and some will sell you dedicated fiber optic Internet connections in addition to their more typical coaxial copper shared bandwidth services.
Fiber solutions include traditional telco Optical Carrier services such as OC3, OC12 and OC 48. The newer technology is Ethernet over Fiber. it’s generally much less expensive and highly scalable. That means you aren’t stuck with the bandwidth you first installed. You can start off with 10 or 100 Mbps and easily scale up to 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps or even 100 Gbps as the need arises. That alone is a great cost saver. The competitive nature of today’s fiber marketplace has greatly reduced the price of bandwidth far below what you might expect.
The buildout of cellular towers for 4G LTE and 5G has created a fiber construction boom. Many buildings have also been connected by fiber for business use. These are great places to have an office because the heavy construction costs of bringing in fiber have already been paid. If you don’t have fiber in your office yet, it may still cost little or nothing to bring a fiber bundle in. That’s because there is likely a point of presence fairly close and carriers each want to be first to “light” a building and garner the business of the tenants.
Do you need a reasonably priced highly reliable last mile connection to the Internet? Get multiple competitive quotes now and see how much bandwidth you can really afford.
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