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Fiber Too Expensive? Try EoC

As business applications become more and more demanding and dependent on IP and Ethernet protocols, Carrier Ethernet has emerged as the WAN technology of choice for enterprise access.  Carrier Ethernet promises an efficient, simple, scalable and cost-effective solution whether you are using it for dedicated internet access, connections to cloud applications, or VPN. 

Ethernet for business applications is estimated to grow substantially through 2015.  Of course, fiber optic connectivity is the preferred method service, but Ethernet over Copper (EoC) has become a strategic choice as well for its competitive price and service.  There are a few main reasons why companies may choose EoC, among them :

1.  It’s Ethernet.  Some new technologies promising broadband service may only be used for internet access or basic voice service.  Ethernet meets business-class symmetric service requirements, providing scalable, reliable and manageable features.  EoC delivers the service businesses have come to expect. 

2.  Fiber options may be very limited.  Currently only about 30% of businesses have access to fiber.  The cost to upgrade is very expensive, and it takes anywhere from 6-18 months to install.  Many companies do not want to wait that long, or invest so much money in the service.  Most facilities are connected to the legacy copper voice network, which makes it easy to transition to EoC in a matter of weeks.  Many providers have found they can increase speeds ten-fold with EoC, which may be enough for most companies.

3.  EoC is on par with fiber.  Nearly all service providers have multiple service classes, including many premium products,  in order to deliver the customer experience your company needs.  Most of them are able to provide a service equal to fiber-based Ethernet services.

4. Innovations in technology have advanced EoC capabilities.  New generations of EoC edge and aggregation equipment have increased capabilities to over 15 Mbps symmetric per copper pair, and providers can now deploy 200+ Mbps Ethernet.  This gives you the service at a fraction of the cost. 

The popularity of carrier Ethernet for business WAN service creates the demand that can’t be completely met with fiber.  Advances in EoC give businesses a good alternative that provides equal service at a fraction of the cost.

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MPLS Made Simple

MPLS is actually a technique, not a service — so it can be used to deliver anything from IP VPNs to Metro Ethernet services, or even to provision optical services. Carriers may build MPLS backbones but the services that end-users see may not be called MPLS. They could be called anything from IP VPN to Metro Ethernet — or any term that the individual carrier may go by.

Basically, MPLS is labeling of packets. In a traditional routed IP network, each router makes an independent forwarding decision for each packet based solely on the packet’s network-layer header. Therefore, whenever a packet arrives at a router, the router has to process where to send the packet next.

When using MPLS technology, the first time the packet enters a network, it’s assigned to a specific forwarding equivalence class (FEC), indicated by appending a short bit sequence, or label, to the packet. Each router in the network has a table indicating how to handle packets of a specific FEC type, so once the packet has entered the network, routers don’t need to perform header analysis. Instead, subsequent routers use the label as an index into a table that provides them with a new FEC for that packet.

Because of this, the MPLS network is able to handle packets with particular characteristics in a consistent fashion. Packets which are carrying real-time traffic, such as voice or video, can easily be mapped to low-latency routes across the network — something that’s difficult to do with conventional routing. The key point with all this is that the labels provide a way to send additional information to each packet — information above and beyond what the routers previously had.