Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Much Bandwidth Does Your Business Need (T1, DS3, OC3)?

It doesn't matter what size your business is ... small, medium, or large. Having to determine how much bandwidth is needed for a new computer network, or upgrade of an existing one, is enough to make anyone break out in a cold sweat.

You can relax. Here's a simple guide to walk you through the minefield... and get you to the other side.

This should be approached from two angles - the first is to figure out where you are, and the second is where you need to go.

(1) Where you are - You need to have a sense of what you have now and how is it being utilized. Get an inventory of your current data and voice circuits. The monthly bills will give you a sense of call volume. You can ask your telecom provider for a report that will tell you max concurrent lines in use. This will be helpful to determine call volumes. For example if you have three PRIs, you may find that at times you have all channels in use at the same time. This could indicate capacity issues.

If you don't have any network monitoring in place, a tool like PRTG (cheap) or MRTG (free) can give you a sense of bandwidth and traffic type. Are people streaming videos all day long? Is it important for them to do so?

2) Where you're going - Once you get a handle of where you are, you need to understand what the business goals are for the next year or two. If they expect to add people, this means more capacity. If they want to improve sharing or data or extend systems across multiple locations, this may mean private networks. Adding more people? This means bandwidth and call volume may go up - especially if it is sales or customer support since they are on the phone more often.

As far as circuit selection, that is driven off what is available by providers in your area and how much does it cost for a term (12,24, 36 mo). Typically, you can get T1s just about anywhere, but you are limited to 1.5Mbps increments. This means you need more cards in your routers. After bonding 4-6 T1's it may be better to look at another circuit type. Check to see if ethernet/fast ethernet or fiber is available. These give you the most flexibility in increasing bandwidth as time goes on.

Based on circuit costs, I would not really go more than 36 months - 24 may be better. Also, go competitive bid if you can for services. If the LECs know you are looking for around, they will be more competitive in their pricing. If you'd like assistance with this just let us know....it's what we do. Plus our services are no cost. Simply submit your request for quotes from multiple providers in your area here: DS3 Bandwidth

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