Monday, January 20, 2014

Who Needs Fiber?

Who Needs Fiber?

As rapidly increasing demand for bandwidth strains the Internet's capacity, the question still remains why the need for so much speed?

Described in the June 28 issue of the journal Science, a team of engineers has devised a new fiber optic technology that promises to increase bandwidth dramatically. The new technology could enable Internet providers to offer much greater connectivity -- from decreased network congestion to on-demand video streaming.The technology centers on donut-shaped laser light beams called optical vortices, in which the light twists like a tornado as it moves along the beam path, rather than in a straight line. The result? A transmission capacity of 1.6 terabits per second, the equivalent of transmitting eight Blu-RayTM DVDs every second.

Business owners today are turning to their "computer guy", IT staff,outside consultants and IP vendors to tell them how much speed is needed. In my experience, more of these businesses today are depending on shared services like cable for the promise of high speeds. This is a good and affordable option, until it isn't anymore. And when you don't have the internet speed you need, it feels like you are gasping for air! With cable, the speeds are determined by the amount of users accessing the service at any given time. Speeds can slow down dramatically with no warning and great consequence. The other options seems to be a mixed bag of DSL, which is now considered too slow or a t-1 that promises a dedicated up and down speed the same 1.5 Mbps.

So Fiber now appears to be the bright and shining house on the hill. Beckoning business owners to the promised land of internet bandwidth nirvana. Right now, the most affordable Fiber within reach to most businesses is upwards of $500 monthly expense, as compared to cable at a low $50 a month. This is a big commitment, and one not made without some planning and preparation.

As a consultant, I take a look at what the business is doing right now with their internet, and what they hope to be able to do in the future. I ask what would it be like to have more bandwidth and connectivity options now to help you reach your goals? Putting a price on the ability to grow is a question asked by salespeople all the time. Getting that new copier, the new computers, servers, software programs, new office space, new phone system, and many more decisions are measured by the fear of loss and hope of gain.

Before anyone ever thought they needed terabits of bandwidth, before there were videos to stream or radios to enjoy on the internet, business owners had to look at making the right investments for the future of their company. Fiber is that right next investment, and timing the purchase is critical to keeping on the path towards a managed office communications system. Often Fiber can take more than 90 days to install at a given location, and if you wait too long to start the process of choosing it, there can be pitfalls. Ask for a speed/need assessment from your IT provider or a qualified consultant. Know what you have now in place and what you have to grow with.

When you get ready to move to Fiber, make sure you are working with a company that can also provide some of the hosted services your business may need in the future. That type of "one company managing the internet and layered services" is ideal. Often times,a t-1 or cable internet provider drops the customer service the moment you add a hosted service, stating that the internet they provide is fine and the service provider is the problem. The same thing can happen with a provider for Fiber- if that is all they deliver. We call this finger pointing, and the best way to eliminate it is have the internet provider also be your managed service provider. Having a team of engineers with a powerful data center in place will make your move to Fiber a streamlined experience worth every bit of the new investment.
Mary Slagle