Friday, October 31, 2008

Business Ethernet Resources .... Where To Learn More

Here are a few links to metro ethernet resource sites .... or sites that focus heavily on carrier ethernet.

* Telephony Online, Carrier Ethernet Section

* CED Magazine

* Light Reading, Ethernet Channel

* Metro Ethernet Forum

* Carrier Ethernet Summit

* Network World, Metro Ethernet

* Converge Digest, Metro Ethernet

* Phone Plug Magazine, Ethernet Channel

* TMCnet

If you have any questions at all on ethernet the above resources are a good place to start.

If you are looking for an ethernet solution as part of your business's network backbone .... I strongly suggest using the free services of Ethernet Look-up Tool or Business Ethernet Solution.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ethernet Concerns For Businesses Today

There appears to be a lot of hype promoting Ethernet everywhere for Internet and private networks. However, reality can be quite different. There are a limited number Ethernet-enable lit buildings in the US or globally.

If your office, is in a lit building, colo or carrier hotel, great! You may be able to get 100 Mbps FastE, GigE or even 10GigE ports. Many potential ethernet customers are not in lit buildings, but are close enough to get 10 Mbps Ethernet over Copper (EoC) or DS1 (EoDS1) or up to 100 Mbps Ethernet over multiple DS3 lines. Locations further away from Ethernet POPs may be limited to more traditional options such as DSL, T1, NxT1 or DS3 bandwidth.

The largest wireless carriers are all but demanding carrier Ethernet of their wire-line counterparts as part of a growing dilemma around delivering large date/media content to the handset. Over the past couple of years, wireless providers discovered that the data bottleneck was no longer the handset, but the delivery system to the cell site locations. Traditional T-1 architecture is becoming a costly pill that wireless providers don't want to swallow. The alternative is Radio Access Network aggregation to Pseudo Wire (PWE) technology for the current RAN systems and eventually native packet delivery over later versions of RAN architecture. All of which would be carried on Business Ethernet.

So here are the topics of concern -

1) Will executive management of wire-line companies see past T-1 delivery for the wireless carriers as a whole? Does it make financial sense for them or will they continue to force traditional TDM architecture.

2) Will bonded copper applications have a place in carrier Ethernet delivery, or must we expect fiber to be the only transport medium?

3) Will PWE3 standards be proven as a reliable T-1 emulation and delivery system?

4) Will carrier grade Metro-E find a place in the LEC portfolio? Will latency and jitter issues prevent wireless carriers from moving to this transport medium in an effort to smooth out growing transport costs.

5) Will wire-line companies have to build dual networks or will they be able to support carrier Ethernet over existing architecture.

6) Are their any large local loop carriers today who are positioned well to support dedicated carrier grade Ethernet.

7) If carrier Ethernet, with QOS standards, can be provided as wireless carriers are requesting, are they delusional in expecting the costs to compare with enterprise Ethernet costs? Seems to me that if you want carrier grade, you will have to pay for it.

If you need help finding a business class ethernet solution take advantage of the free support offered here: Business Ethernet Solution

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Monday, October 27, 2008

What Flavor Bandwidth Is Right For You .... T1, DS3, Other?

What is a viable choice for your business network backbone? Is it DSL, cable, T1, DS3, or something else?

Ok, is T1 bandwidth a viable choice? Yes, due to geographic locations where DSL/Cable is not available.

As far as other flavors? Well DS3 Bandwidth is a viable option when fiber is not run to the location and therefore a copper circuit is still required.

Voice T1s/PRIs are still viable choices.

If the organization is large enough, then a T1 for backup would be a viable option.

DSL and Cable (when available) or good choices for very small businesses that do not run specific servers.

As fiber is built out to more locations, copper circuits sales will continue to decline.

At the enterprise level, most phone companies will not bond more than two DS3s (around 88Mbps), when you could have Gig-E Internet (Gigabit Business Ethernet)if the location is fiber lit.

DSL vs. T1 - depends how far away you are from the central office whether DSL is a viable alternative

Cable vs. T1 - depends on how many people are running off of the node. The Cable company may state 8M/1M but the actual speed may be 4M/384K, ah the wonders of speedtest.net

FiOS vs. T1 - FiOS will win everytime. 20M/20M business FiOS is around $150/month? NxT1s can not compete with that. Of course this is limited to Verizon footprint and FiOS availability.

To really zero in on what you actually need (notice I didn't say "want" ) ...... ask yourself these questions:

Do you require the line to be confidential?

What is the maximum acceptable outage you can handle for this line?

Does the pipe size meet your requirements and allow for future growth?

What kind of support do you want for the line?

What kind of money do you want to spend?

If you require the line to be confidential, you could use either a T1 or a VPN over cheaper media.

The uptime of a T1 will generally be greater than that of a lesser service because you're paying for a dedicated circuit. Most providers offer credits when the service is down, so you are not charged when the circuit is not usable. Compare that to lesser services.

A T1 can send and receive 1.544 Mbps concurrently (really 1.536), depending on your location, other services have probably surpassed this: FiOS, Comcast Cable

T1 support is generally much better and more personalized than a lesser service, because you're paying for a dedicated line.

T1 pricing can be somewhat expensive compared to lesser services. But .... this is NOT always the case.

Please note that I call anything non-dedicated "lesser" because it essentially is a lower quality of service you are receiving.

In the end .... do your homework. Making a decision based on anything other than sound business analysis will get you into trouble. Don't buy on your emotion, a friend's advice, or a vendors pitch and hype. Answer the questions above and focus on what makes business sense.

If you're looking for a true business solution for your network backbone needs .... you can get free rate quotes comparing multiple providers by location here: How Much Is A Bandwidth Solution?

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Business VoIP .... Good Or Bad??

Here's an exchange with a business considering VoIP ......

Quote: "What should I like about VoIP"

Answer: VoIP is still a cutting edge technology that still requires some maturing, however in saying that it has come a long way. Its benefits now far out way the risks, and with a correctly deployed and proper architectural network (e.g. T1 or DS3 Bandwidth ), VoIP can be a positive service to a growing business especially when it helps them to expand without increasing operating costs.

Quote: "is IP a best effort delivery technology and is QoS inherent"

Answer: I would like to think that VoIP has emerged out of the "Best Efforts" category now, and has advanced to a best delivered technology category, again VoIP still has to mature more, but when properly delivered and where QoS is implemented End-to-End both internally and externally it can be a great bonus to home and business users alike.

Quote: "Mostly it is acceptable, but more often than not landline quality is less"

Answer: Again this is dependent on how you design the network and deploy it, in some live deployments VoIP has proven to be more successful and more functional and a standard POTS service and csn even extend beyond that of an ISDN service, but this is still heavily reliant on the properly designed deployment.

Currently, I've a collegue working with the Cisco UC500 series Telephony kit. And I must say Cisco has not only produced a fine kit, but they have also made VoIP for businesses more accessible and cost effective.

When good equipment, deployment designs and cost savings are measured up against the advanced features one can gain from a VoIP deployment, the realization of the technology can be seen to is full measure.

However in saying all of the above, it still makes good practical sense to provide some redundancies to any VoIP deployment, such as a fail over PSTN or ISDN on-ramp 2 service, purely for when service go down, quick fail over can be achieved, in this case scenario you are ensuring that the deployed services are still able to push out the advanced features of VoIP but also retain some form of security to that party.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is A Business VoIP Solution For You?

Before you decide on a solution whether it be premise vs. hosted, open source vs. propriety system, small or a large system, you should clearly define how exactly you want to make the best use of VoIP in your company. Your business objectives should be the driving force behind deciding on what specific product/service technology to deploy. Having said that, there are plenty of solutions out there that can address specific needs of your business, and in most cases will also grow/adapt to the changing needs of your business. This is one of the biggest advantages of VoIP.

If your business has multiple offices, has people working remotely, people on the road, and it is absolutely critical for you to establish presence (that anyone in your company is reachable when a customer dials the main number for the office); and there is less than 100 people working in your company .... then one of the best solutions out there is sold by us.

Simply request a free analaysis of your needs here:

Business VoIP Solution

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Business VoIP .... Should YOU Like It?

There are several things to like about VoIP for businesses. VoIP enables a company to have remote employees be an extension off the company's system whether they are at home, on a customer site or working off a Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop. One touch transfers from the operator; direct in dial numbers right to a laptop, and access to all of the company's resources from anywhere you have a high-speed internet connection.

VoIP can also be used to network multiple offices together to act as one. The benefits are; centralized operator, the ability to transfer calls to any phone at any office, and being able to utilize local calling areas.

There are also things that need to be understood when implementing VoIP system for a business. Benchmarks need to be set. A detailed needs analysis has to be performed in order to provide a system that meets a customer's expectation. For instance, what type of call quality is expected between the main office and a remote location? What type of calls are being made or answered by a remote office? How many calls occur in a day, or a week? These are all questions that need to be answered to determine the type of network connection that will be required to give a company the voice quality they desire. You can have excellent call quality with VoIP as long as the proper infrastructure is in place. However, that comes with a cost. A dedicated point-to-point T-1 gives much better call quality than an internet DSL line.

In the end .... the decision is entirely yours. Choose wisely. Plus plan accordingly.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

What Do You Like Or Dislike About VoIP (Voice Over IP)?

Yeah.. VoIP can mean many things. I'd first like to make the distinction between a customer premise VoIP system where there exists an IP PBX that runs VoIP over your internal network regardless of what type of phone service you have ..... and then there's internet VoIP which people most commonly refer to as a "Vonage" type service. Internet VoIP service in my opinion is not yet an enterprise solution since there is typically no SLA's or quality of service offered, but the savings are there which has prompted its adoption amongst small businesses that don't demand an "always" reliable service.

Many work largely with Open Source IP PBX systems which range from pure Asterisk to Switchvox or even Trixbox. There exists dozens of open source IP PBX systems on the market many of which have varying levels of reliability, quality, and redundancy. For small systems that require non-technical administration I believe the best is Switchvox. When engineered flawlessly, the most reliable, flexible, and scalable IP PBX is plain old Asterisk.

If you have the right IP PBX internally, there really isn't much of a downside except the fact that IP PBX systems can be expensive. IP PBX systems also do not live as long as TDM phone systems purely because of the difference in technology running behind the two. To successfully deploy VoIP internally, just make sure that you have the infrastructure to do so which includes Cat5 or greater wiring and an appropriate data network. Ideally you want to segregate your voice and data network but many companies do not because of the cost... but if you can do it... you should.

As far as VoIP phone service goes, we're talking about phone service which is delivered over your existing data connection. Like I said, not really a business grade product but the fact that you can use an existing data connection for voice means that the savings can be pretty enticing. The problem with internet based VoIP service is that you're tied to a single point of failure. If data goes down, you have no voice service.

Another issue, which not all users will experience, is problems with call quality. Because your phone call is running over the internet, the company providing you with phone service usually is not the same company providing your internet connection and therefore can not control, monitor, or fix your connection... nor can your VoIP provider control all the facets of the internet.... what this means is that your VoIP provider has no ability to prevent packet loss which in turn can produce static on the line, jitter, and dropped calls. Again, not everyone experiences these problems but many do and they are an inherent risk with hosted VoIP service.

To minimize this risk, I recommend that a company purchase their Hosted VoIP service from the same company that is delivering their data connection. There are many technical and infrastructure related reasons why this is a better service which I'm not going to get into it now... but I can guarantee that if your ISP is legit, they should offer decent hosted VoIP as well.

So all in all.. there's quite a few things that you need to consider when looking at VoIP. Unfortunately companies who are in the business of selling VoIP systems and VoIP service manage to get away with selling half ass'd and janky solutions which can result in poor voice quality and many other "bad" things... what this means is that just because someone is in the business of selling something VoIP, it doesn't mean it'll be a good product. All I say is that you should make sure that the company you get your IP PBX or Hosted VoIP service from is a solid business with lots of customers and positive feedback.

If you'd like free assistance navigating all the decisions to be made for choosing VoIP for your business .... simply take advantage of the help at Business VoIP Solution

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is MPLS A Good Choice For Your Voice/Data Network?

MPLS over copper is nothing more than a "cloud" network where you're two or so hops away from your neighbors and your connections are controlled by the ISP. The premise is a more cost effective approach of tying together multiple locations usually via a T1 or maybe DS3 backbone. It's actually more of a VLAN approach than a VPN.

A better option that is coming in the near future is taking part in a Fiber MAN, which any local/regional fiber provider can give. Multiple locations in the same geographic region will be able to take part in a Fiber MAN and simply scale their bandwidth up and down according to each location's needs. This gives a secure, scalable high-speed connection with a minimum of configuration.

However, in most cases MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) is a good choice for a multi-location business network. The cost efficiency itself over other alternatives makes it very attractive. Plus .... MPLS is already available most everywhere. While other potential alternatives are generally geographically limited.

For help in defining the best MPLS design for your applications .... and finding the most cost effective provider source .... take advantage of the free services here: MPLS Solution

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Monday, October 13, 2008

T1 Bandwidth .... Still A Useful Business Voice/Data Platform?

With all the options available now ... e.g. ethernet, wireless, etc. ... is T1 bandwidth (and all it's flavors) even a viable choice as a network solution (or part of one) for today's businesses?

Though the T1 is a hold over from a technological universe from a galaxy far away. It is still widely used and ordered by customers big and small. There is an extremely large base of private IP networks that ride on T1 circuits. But if we want to be accurate, we should refer to it as DS-1 since what we are really talking about is the telephony network signaling format still of use and viable.

In my opinion, the telephony network is grossly under-estimated and understood by most network engineers. We do and will for a long time continue to build logical networks on the back of the physical telephony network. Large carriers have gradually built large packet data networks in parallel to the PSTN, but those networks still depend on the telephony network infrastructure for access.

The key issue is what other high speed services are available, and at what cost. Significantly higher speed services may actually cost less than a T-1. With the advent of Pseudowire technology, you can use a packet based service and still derive TDM interfaces such as T-1, DS-3, etc., with all of the timing, functionality and QoS of traditional carrier services. The fact that many of these new services are packet based (IP, Ethernet, MPLS) means that you can keep your existing PBX or other equipment that needs a T-1 circuit, and transition to VoIP or other packet based applications later. Having done that, you still have significant bandwidth left over for internet access, video, VoIP, etc.

From the Network Service Provider (NSP) perspective, they would love to transport their TDM customer’s traffic over their higher speed IP-MPLS backbone networks. Many of these NSPs continue to run the older TDM (ATM-SONET, Frame Relay, etc.) networks since their customers do not want to change. That said, they could provision the same services by using modern gateway products, and get the advantage of supporting the customers with a simpler Layer 2 network.

Remember that a T1/DS1 is just a pipe. If its configured for B8ZS it runs at 1.54 Mb before overhead, with AMI its 1.34 - you lose bandwidth due to framing and protocol overhead. Its 24 DS0's running at either 64 or 56 kb.

You can run any type of traffic over it. ATM, MPLS, HDLC, Frame Relay, Voice (you usually add echo can's to B8ZS with voice), VoIP ...

Whether its viable depends on what you need, what type of local loop or entrance facilities are available at the site you are supporting, how many ends you are buying, whether you use local or national providers, reliability, business applications (e.g. load from multi-media, conferencing, etc.), and a few other considerations ....

A T1 is still a viable option for the small business. The Telco can put a PRI in place and control/split the channels, leaving enough room for a meg of data and enough phone lines for the business to operate.

Most Telco providers will waive the install charge and give you a deal on any equipment they need to install in order to get your data working. At this point, the Small Business has to find a local tech to configure their firewall for access and they're up and running provided their phone system is in place.

In some "new construction" areas, no Fiber has been laid, the Telco isn't tariffed for splitting a T with a PRI, so you're stuck with DSL (unless you want to pay for multiple analog lines and a separate T1, running your bill over $1000/month). DSL is fine for bandwidth and offers many speeds, but a T1 is far more reliable than DSL in the vast majority of installs. The DSL will also require more effort to run an internal mail server by getting a static IP, DNS records, constant blacklisting of DSL users, ad nauseum.

A T-1 carries a significantly higher cost per megabit then other cheaper mediums. With the extra cost comes some specific benefits though. A T-1 carries an uptime guarantee. What this means is your circuit is monitored 24/7 for problems, and most carriers guarantee your internet or point to point will be up and functional %99.99 of the time. This is important if for example your company hosts it's own email server, and email delivery is mission critical.

In addition, a T-1 comes with "Quality of Service"(QOS). In a nutshell, QOS makes sure everything you send out gets processed in the same order it is sent out. This is attractive for companies who use Voice over Internet Protocol(VOIP) or companies who have a VOIP/PRI phone system. It makes sure your voice data comes across smooth and minimizes the delay between when you speak and when the other party hears you.

DSL is usually a cheaper solution, and usually provides higher bandwidth-per-circuit for smaller enterprises. However, beyond the lack of reliable SLAs, DSL circuits also lack the troubleshooting and more definitive fault identification systems that are integrated into T1 circuits and their associated hardware.

In short, for applications that require resiliency, T1s remain a safe bet on their own, or combined into multilink circuits.

If your company just needs access the internet, and none of the above scenarios apply to you, chances are business DSL is going to be a cheaper, faster option for your company.

ALWAYS keep this in mind too ..... your WAN or Internet connection should be determined by your needs, and not by an arbitrary opinion that T1 is old technology or a personal preference for an alternative. Until you or your company answers several questions about your intended usage, it doesn't make much sense to say what's viable among the various options available. Networking is not a "one size fits all" world.

All in all though, T1s are here to stay for awhile at least for small business use. T1 users aren't shrinking in numbers, but the T1s installed are simply capturing a smaller market percentage because of the number of businesses overall who need connectivity and the availability of Fiber/Cable/Whatnot.

The bottom line is that T1s are definitely a viable option for some. With the equipment already in place in most networks the deployment costs are pretty much non-existent. If the equipment is not in place it would probably be cost-effective to roll out newer technology such as Ethernet or FTTP (fibre to the premise).

Again, T1 bandwidth is definitely here to stay. Why? Because the T1 will always fit someone's business model.

If you would like free assistance to find the right T1 circuit for your network applications .... or any type of Bandwidth solution .... simply go here: Network Solution

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Business Ethernet Or OC3 Bandwidth ... What Do You Choose?

Is Ethernet or OC3 bandwidth the right choice for a network solution for your business? How would you make that decision?

If you are talking about a network operator / service provider and assuming your links are above 1 Gbps most likely you will need both OCx/EoS and Ethernet, after all you need to interconnect with other networks. If you have links below 1 Gbps at the access or core sides of the network then you would have to use OCx, most likely. Although some people tend to say that for a new network you can do whatever you want, but reality is another thing.

OCx/STM-N are known for their reliability and predictability and still have quite a good precense in long haul. These are migrating to EoS (VCAT, LCAS, GFP) and OTN but they won't satrt to become "pure" Ethernet until 43G and supposedly there won't be any difference at 100G so Ethernet could prevail adopting some of the reliability factors and DWDM compatibility from OTN. There is still long ways to go before the true convergence. In fact IEEE HSSG and ITU-T are working together to assure neither one reinvents each other's wheels. Perhaps, if they succed, we would see single physical interfaces that could handle both: Ethernet for end-to-end connectivity and OTN for transport applications.

If you are thinking forward, perhaps you need to add OTN and EoS to your transport/core infrastrucure so it is ready for the future and yet flexible to interconnect to other peers using OCx, or deliver services below 1 GigE using EoS. People claiming they get "pure Ethernet" from their providers may not be paying attention to the EoS add/drop box that was delivered with the service contract and it is in fact receiving packets and shooting OCx frames back to the central office, or it arrived at a near aggregation location via OCx/EoS and then radioes to the customer premisses (perhaps over an internal OCx link too).

Below 1 GigE rates (I believe) there is no good way to deliver Ethernet directly to the customer (access network). it always has to be wrapped on some sort of (unreliable) transport scheme like VDSL, SHDSL, DOCSIS,... This is (in my opinion) what's keeping SONET/SDH alive. Once we all have fiber and beyond 1GigE then there is no issue. You would be able to go Ethernet/OTN all the way.

While Ethernet is becoming quite widespread and cost effective, often times the A and Z locations may require a decision in favor of OC3. SONET being readily available, it may be more cost effective (yes - even including the WAN module for OC3) in some locations. For the same A and Z locations, if both Ethernet and OC3 are available, I would pick Ethernet due to the ease of integration as long as the cost is within ~ 65% of the OC3 circuit.

OCx has history, resilience, and capacity, and is subject to suppliers wringing every last cent out of it as an asset given the emergence of long(er) distance Ethernet.

"Choose wisely", says the Templar Knight in Indiana Jones and the Final Crusade... likewise here. Unless you are committed to a long-term contract on OCx, don't extend it unless your business and application requirements say you won't need Metro-E flexibility until the end of the extension period. Even then, negotiate for huge concessions and/or cost-free upgrade to Metro-E at the end. As cost competitiveness of a service is based on the amount of market share: Metro-e /10GB-e will dwarf OCx over time.

Lastly, choose OCx/Metro-E service based on achievable and measurable SLAs first ..... then nail the supplier to the floor on price (as you do .... or .... you should do).

For help in determining the right solution .... whether it's business ethernet, OC3, or something else .... I strongly suggest taking advantage of the no cost support available here: Bandwidth Solution

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Business Ethernet vs SONET Bandwidth Solution .... Which Makes More Sense?

For high bandwidth - high capacity network infrastructures today .... you can look toward Ethernet or SONET based solutions. But which makes more sense for YOU.

Since you're not likely to be able to run Ethernet to meet your actual WAN requirements, what you are effectively doing is outsourcing the edge of your network to your carrier.

Your carrier will run SONET services to an edge device, manage that device, and hand you an Ethernet connection.

As always, there are advantages and disadvantages with each. With the Ethernet solution, you get simplicity, and have lower capital equipment costs on your side, but you're probably, in effect, leasing that equipment the carrier uses at your site as part of your monthly recurring cost (MRC). You're also "outsourcing" the operation of the WAN side of the hand-off, which might work well for you of your staff is generally more experienced with LAN technologies, and you're carrier is competent in handling this responsibility for you.

If you go the SONET route, you'll be buying interfaces for your routers, and these expenses can start to add up. On the other hand, you've got more control, or at least more say, in what's being delivered to you. If you need ring and equipment diversity, and want to have the egress side of your rings be at diverse locations, it's *your* circuit. If you want to know that the protect channel is assigned to your needs, your equipment is on it and you have that visibility. If you have an Ethernet interface being dropped off, you might have less visibility into what lies beyond, and have less of an argument for being involved in how your carrier is engineering what lies past that edge device.

In more complex environments, there may be other concerns as well. If you're running POS into your routers, you have the ability to run a layer two service on top of this, and virtualize that OCx circuit. A collegue put OCx into an MPLS environment where it became desirable to operate more than one MPLS VRF, and building two FR PVCs on top of the POS, one to each VRF, was a simple solution. If he had the same need with a carrier-provided Ethernet edge device, he'd have likely needed to pay another monthly charge for another Ethernet port to accomplish the same thing.

Either technology may be the right choice .... depending on where you want the costs and the design and operational responsibilities to fall.

For help in determining the right solution .... whether it's ethernet, SONET, or something else .... I strongly suggest taking advantage of the no cost support available here: Bandwidth Solution

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Is OC3 Bandwidth Still A Viable Option For A Network Infrastructure?

It appears that ethernet based configurations are fast becoming the option of choice for larger network infrastructure applications .... over OCx based solutions. However .... when, where, and why would OC3 bandwidth solutions still be viable and/or prefered?

An exact answer to "when, where, and why" would depend on the demands that would be placed on the network and the availablility of existing resources. If there are already SONET OC pipes in place then it would make sense to utilize them for a network connection instead of installing new facilities. What would be a major driver is the bandwidth utilization that might be placed on on the network connection. With the trend for more bandwidth intensive applications an OC3 pipe might be quickly used up once your network grows beyond a small segment.

Generally speaking OC3 would be preferred over ethernet when/where/why:

- distance greater than 300ft (up to 3km?)
- high electrical interference environment
- slightly faster
- lower maintenance

Generally why you would prefer ethernet over OC3:

- easier to manage/support
- more options for inter-connectivity devices
- less expensive
- much much less time to implement

SONET (e.g. OCx) networks have the following advantages over all packet networks.....

1) Protection: Restoration of services after the detection of a fault is done within 60 mS. All packet networks can do this as well, if an RPR architecture is implemented. Restoration capability in SONET networks comes at a cost; 50% of your bandwidth is sitting idle. RPR reuses the spare bandwidth resulting in 100% network utilization.

2) Network Management: SONET systems have much evolved and hence powerful feature sets in their vendor provided NMS's.

3) Performance Monitoring is also more evolved in SONET systems and facilitates troubleshooting greatly.

4) Synchronization: Back haul applications like cell tower requiring accurate synchronization currently have less issues deriving clock from SONET networks than they do from Ethernet based networks.
Timing solutions like IEEE 1588 exist for Ethernet networks and evolving to address outstanding issues.

Despite the fact that OC3 equipment is very cheap, I would implement any new infrastructure using all packet technology. The scalability can be done on the fly in fine (1 Mb/s) and coarse increments (10, 100 Mb/s), unlike SONET networks where you are stuck with T1, T3, OC3 and OC12 increments, etc. Ethernet technology is ubiquitous and is way of the future.

If I had the choice, I would just go with ethernet...especially with 10Gb well on it's way.

These days there is so much overlap of purpose because of the force fitting of Ethernet concepts into OC frames. Some of this bastardization makes sense, such as VCATing to more efficiently utilization of bandwidth when Ethernet is the source or destination for the signal. But, honestly, most of the bastardization is not for "good reason", it's for religious reason.

It's because most network engineers are not really "engineers" but rather, "network" guys that took an A+ test and don't know care so much about what's best, but what they know. Hence, religion. It's the same as Java vs. C# or VHS vs. Betamax. It's not so clear whether one is better than another, but rather which people are more comfortable with.

Back to the real question. Yes, OC is a viable option, but since 10Gb Ethernet is (more or less) interchangeable with OC-192, and most engineers know ethernet better than OC, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for most networks to build out for OC. However, if the network will be buying time on existing SONET infrastructure, then picking up equipment that is at least compatible, even if more expensive, is worth while.

Simply put, if your service provider has that infrastrucutre in place (OC3) that is what they will push. If your service provider has optical ethernet in place, they will offer this technology. Technically optical ethernet is better as a delivery system (voice, data, video) but "Bell Heads" would argue that point. The OC3 hertitage is one to support channelized voice streams, optical ethernet for data streams. But with the convergence of voice and data in transport methods for supporting business applications .... ethernet has an advantage.

By the way both are optical methods so the "glass stays the same". Only the equipment you attach to the ends will differ.

OC3s, and Sonet in general, are all still very viable (and have several advantages). However I am a fan of Metro Ethernet solutions .... or even national point to point circuits for delivery of bandwidth, where available. Metro-E is generally cheaper, often both for the provider as well as the customer, and thus it is quickly becoming available in many markets.

Sonet applications have one advantage over some common Metro-E offerings that you should be aware of. With Sonet you are guaranteed that your interfaces will pass link state end to end. This could be important if you are running OSPF or some other IGP that could take advantage of the extra information to more quickly route around failures. (and yes, there are technologies that can detect link failures even on media types that do no support passing link state).

There is no doubt that in major metros, the flexibility and fact that ethernet based technologies can be managed by traditional network staff and do not reguire a specialized telco engineer is certainly a benefit. Costs seem to favor ethernet over OCx offerrings as well.

Doesn't it depend on the application running across the service though? If I am doing asynchronous replication of a WAN to a secondary location, I still may need OCx technology. I may need other options as well. FC over ethernet is out and it does open possibilities, but the price points are still very high and is this a tried and true technology yet?

In the end, many areas are constrained by service offerrings. In areas where there are options, it still comes down to the needs of the customer based on the application(s), the experience of the staff managing the solution, and price points.

While Ethernet is a great alternative for many of today's networks, there is still a strong marketplace for OC-3 services, particularly when you look at the price of an OC-3 compared to 2, 5 or even 10 years ago. Also, unless there is a dramatic requirement for migrating to all Ethernet based services, existing OC-3s retain money already spent on infrastructure hardware and it is still relatively easy to troubleshoot. For newer networks, let your applications and services drive your requirements for Ethernet based services, at which point it comes down to cost versus functionality.....

For help in determining the right solution .... whether it's ethernet, OC3, or something else .... I strongly suggest taking advantage of the no cost support available here: Bandwidth Solution

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Voice and Data Network .... How To Find The Best Price

For high speed internet access, voice (SIP, LD, Local, VoIP, POTS), integrated access (voice, data, PRI), multi-site networks (MPLS, VPN, WAN, P2P), and network services (firewall, colocation) ... your business can find the right solution for your network infrastructure AND save on cost using the free services found here:

Business Bandwidth Solution

Please note:

* Business only
* No residential

This service covers all flavors of voice and data network needs for any size business .... from T1, DS3, OC3, OC12, OC48, OC192, VoIP, and Metro Ethernet (GigE etc.) based bandwidth solutions .... including SIP, LD, Local, VoIP/Broadband Phone, POTS, PRI, MPLS, VPN, P2P, integrated voice/data, WAN, and more.

Whatever your application(s) and network infrastructure design needs .... you'll find the most cost effective bandwidth solution comparing multiple providers available in your specific location(s).

Simply identify your requirements and installation location(s)......providing the details here:

Voice and Data Network

[note: Please provide complete, detailed, and accurate information. Incomplete or bogus RFQs will be ignored. In other words .... no response or support if you're not serious.]

You'll receive a preliminary assessment with rate quotes via email immediately after entering your information. Then, more in-depth detail as follow-up soon after that.

The service includes help determining your exact application parameters and needs, confirmation of the best pricing available, and assistance with the acquisition process. They'll negotiate on your behalf, ensure the best SLA (Service Level Agreement) and QOS (Quality of Service), do the paperwork, monitor provisioning and installation, and even run interference for you with your chosen provider for the life of the contract.

Plus remember .... this service is NO cost to you.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Real Problems With Magic Jack .... Is Majic Jack Hiding Something?

Read the TOS ("Terms Of Service) for Magic Jack VERY closely. You might be surprised at what you see there. Or NOT see there. I've pointed out issues with Magic Jack in earler articles on Broadband Nation (see archives). But this revelation should make you VERY concerned.

In short ... to quote a favorite cartoon character .... "Be Afwaid, Very Afwaid".

This is just pointing out the not-so-obvious that is hidden deep within the TOS, and other 'gotcha's' that you won't realize until after you give up your $ and privacy!

First:

Here is the contact info for MagicJack:

PO BOX 6785
West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Magic Jack Phone number: 281-404-1551
Billing MagicJack number: 561-594-2140

CAUTION: it looks like they track the number that calls and places you into a repeating loop if you call back a second time. so if you need to call a second time make sure its from a different number.

Second:

In the TOS you agree that everything in your computer is fair game for them to know about, all web sites, email, and numbers called are there info.

You agree to have all of your information resold to third parties.

There is no Un install for this program. Even if you stop using it, it gathers your information.

You are put under high pressure to sign up and pay for 5 years.

There is no published phone number, email address, or mailing address.

All customer support is done via type in the box chat.

There is no written warranty on the box. It breaks, you buy another to maintain your service.

Computer must be left on to make or receive calls.

Pop up window comes to front of screen anytime there is a call in or out call.

MajicJack Spyware slows down your computer even when you are not using MagicJack

Advertising is in the pop up box.

And yes, you do save around $150 a year not using a real Voip company.

At what little price people put on the information and security.

So ask yourself, is it really worth it?

Wait .... there's more.

Majic Jack is owned and run by YMAX. They are not a stand alone VoIP provider.

Also .....

"The software for the MagicJack does not run directly from the device. It fully installs on the Windows system, which also makes the MagicJack less attractive for situations where one might want to use it on someone else's computer (say when visiting family). Making this even worse, there was no easy way to uninstall the software from the system, with the program not even showing up in the Windows Remove Program window. UPDATE: MagicJack confirmed that there is currently no easy way to uninstall the software. The process required to uninstall the software requires multiple Windows Registry edits and the removal of several folders on the Windows system. Based on this, I wouldn't recommend using the MagicJack on the systems of friends, family or business associates." -- (see magicjack fails to cast a voip spell)

Nobody should accept having to leave unwanted software on a personal computer, or any tell-tale trace of the MJ program on a public computer, a business workstation, or a borrowed device.

The key concepts here are action and intent. IF MJ is not actively monitoring computer activity and collecting data about its customers, that's great. They would be taking no action that anyone could be concerned about.

But consider their intent. Their TOS spell out their intent -- the intent to feed context sensitive advertising, which requires manipulation of information from your brain through their software into their processors. There seems to be little restriction of what info their software can see. (Kind of like your home builder installing bugging devices and cameras into your bedroom, just not yet watching the feed.) Then there is the ability of MJ to modify their software (upgrape, anyone?) at any time, without the common user's ability to stop it, and that revision could include the spyware coding. While you, the uncommon user, have the ability to see what they are doing, the common user has no idea when the change is made. Now let's consider MJ's intent of not building in an UNINSTALL capability. I am suggesting that this exposes MJ's intent to have their software on your PC whether you're an active phone customer or not. What would be the intent of having that software on the PC of a former customer? (Consider, also, their "convenience" feature of taking the device with you so you can use it on a friend's PC -- thus installing the software on that machine, too!) What information could that software obtain that would be of value to MJ? And what could the common user do to stop it?

MJ could shut down their phone service tomorrow, and they have a window into 1 million PCs -- to feed advertising, log key strokes, and obtain surfing patterns.

By laughing at the TOS provisions, you are overlooking that they are warning you of their intent -- and protecting themselves from future legal action. "We told them what we were going to do. It was in our terms of service and the customers agreed." Case dismissed.

Several years ago there was another nice utility that was offered -- Weather Bug. Everyone liked Weather Bug. You downloaded a program and it was nice enough to give you accurate weather forecasts -- while it spied on you. That little program helped popularize the anti-spyware industry, which now extracts $50 a year out of millions of users.

Action: not guilty.

Intent: too soon to know for sure, but all the clues are right out there in the sunshine. You won't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out.

From their EULA:

“You also understand and agree that use of the magicJack device and Software will include advertisements and that these advertisements are necessary for the magicJack device to work … Our computers may analyze the phone numbers you call in order to improve the relevance of the ads”.

Any claims, legal proceeding or litigation arising in connection with the magicJack device or Software will be resolved by binding arbitration … in Palm Beach, Florida.”

In short, it not only has one agree to ads with its paid-for system, but claims that the ads are necessary for it to work. It will also snoop on your calls to target ads more accurately, and has you sign away your legal right to take it to court if it defrauds or otherwise harms you. Delightful.

Neither the EULA itself, nor any other privacy or legal information, can be easily found at its homepage. It’s not even provided at the point of sale, where one enters credit card info, email and street addresses as such, so as to gain access to the service and have your MagicJack dongle delivered. I found the EULA’s URL through Google.

When you access MajicJack’s instant web help page, a bizarre series of “compatibility tests” take place first, reporting lies like “Your MagicJack is functioning properly” even if you don’t have one installed.

Even the “look how many people came for a free trial” counter on the homepage is a fake, a javascript applet that increments itself automatically:

// the interval (ms) between new visitors
var interval = Math.round(86400000/perday);

As if targeted advertising, systematic privacy invasion, and the signing away of your legal rights wasn’t evil enough!

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