Alternatives to Fiber…Buyer Beware!

Telecom companies are - very slowly - building out fiber technology to commercial buildings. But it will be a while before fiber is widely installed. Which begs the question: Should businesses implement Ethernet over Copper (EoC) technology or T1, bonded (n x) T1 or T3 private line circuits? While fiber is preferred, it's only available to a limited number of U.S. commercial buildings. All of the other locations where fiber is not yet available qualify for EoC. So what's the best solution while waiting for fiber?

EoC (the transport of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet MAC frame over one or bonded (n x) DSL between the customer's location and the service provider's Point of Presence (POP)) is basically twisted pairs of copper that are also used for PSTN voice/fax communications and for commonly offered high speed Internet access. Many service areas in the U.S. are implementing EoC. Its pricing is significantly lower than bonded T1 (4 wire) circuit prices, it's more reliable and easier to upgrade.

As a stop gap while waiting for Fiber to be widely rolled out, we prefer the more expensive Bonded T’s. They provide 1.5 meg for one circuit, 3.0 meg for two circuits, 4.5 meg for three circuits and up to six circuits for nine meg. Unless you are very close to your central office (less than a mile or 5000 feet), then EoC would be ok. EoC has the same distance limitations as DSL did, so if you remember DSL being flakey in the past, you’ll find EoC to be pretty bad as well.

Another stop gap bandwidth solution while you are waiting for fiber is business cable. While their SLAs are not as good as T-1s, Fiber, or EoC, it is extremely cost effective.

On an EoC program, estimates of DSL loop lengths can be made, and expected maximum speeds can be predicted. But users beware: If the loop ends up being over 10,000 feet from the central office, then signal degradation can occur.

Basically, I recommend DCG Technical Solutions' clients go to EoC as a last resort and avoid long-term contracts if EoC is their only choice. Fiber (2 meg to 1000 gig speed) is the ideal way to go, but since availability is limited depending on the geographic area, some clients don't have a choice and should consider EoC.

About Brent Whitfield

Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc., which provides IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. DCG exists to help our clients choose, implement, and manage IT and cloud solutions that are cost effective and reliable. DCG's pro-active approach to IT is ideally suited for companies who depend on reliable IT infrastructure, but don't want to spend a lot of money to keep it that way. DCG was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP Mentor. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.