The use of fiber-optic technology in businesses has spread quickly as businesses look to fiber’s scalable bandwidth to keep up with exponential increases in the amount of data they need to transmit — something legacy copper networks cannot do. According to Doak Field, senior director of enterprise sales for Comcast Business Services, many companies who could benefit from fiber’s bandwidth often don’t realize that fiber is currently available in their area or why they should consider upgrading their network.
“In today’s competitive business environment, speed and scalability are essential to staying ahead of the game,” Field says. “Network connectivity speeds have increased substantially over the past five to 10 years and will continue to increase as more businesses rely on it to successfully run their businesses.”
Smart Business spoke with Field about what you need to know about fiber and how it can take your business to the next level in terms of connectivity.
What are the advantages of using fiber-optic for telecommunications?
There are a number of benefits for choosing fiber for business telecommunications, including:
- For a cost-effective solution, fiber provides plenty of bandwidth.
- The high capacity of fiber provides users with access to bandwidth levels that were only a dream a few years ago.
- Fiber carries a digital signal (rather than analog signal) which is advantageous for almost all applications.
- Its relatively small size makes fiber convenient to use because it takes up less space.
- It allows for much longer distances between amplifiers because there’s no need for continual splicing, which allows for less signal degradation.
- Fiber can be installed next to utility lines, power lines and other areas where interference or crosstalk might normally occur and there is minimal impact.
- Because it is made from glass fiber is not corrosive or susceptible to any chemical breakdowns.
- It delivers Internet, phone, TV, security monitoring and carrying of data traffic all over the same medium efficiently and securely.
How can mid-market companies determine whether a fiber network makes sense for them?
We live in a world where speed to market, speed to respond and quick scalability is the norm. Fiber provides businesses with the speed and the security that a few years ago were reserved only for the Fortune 500. Most businesses are in business to grow and prosper and fiber offers them the ability to grow exponentially without having to make drastic changes to their infrastructure.
Fast, scalable and reliable are three areas that cannot be compromised in the competitive business landscape. Fiber networks are inherently scalable, which allows for any size company to be nimble yet able to proactively upgrade its network as changes in respective markets demand quick action. Fiber is a fast, reliable and secure form of data delivery.
No matter how small a business is, it requires a fast, reliable and secure access to the Internet. As businesses continue to grow, they need subsequent offices and/or locations to have the same access as their headquarters. Fiber provides a cost-effective and virtually seamless way for businesses to connect to as many sites as needed.
What are the important questions for a mid-market company to ask when considering this upgrade?
- Am I still locked into traditional TDM Private Lines, Frame Relay or ATM services?
- How quickly does my network need to transmit, upload and download data?
- Do my bandwidth needs change often or are they fairly static?
- How secure does my data network need to be?
- Do I want my provider to manage my network and support it accordingly?
- Do I need symmetrical dedicated Internet connectivity?
- Do I need redundant paths into or out of my location?
- Do I need and expect 24/7/365 network monitoring and support?
- Is the company I am considering a certified member of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF)?
- Can my data provider provide me with local support?
- Can my data provider provide me with Online Reporting Tools?
- Do I need to implement Border Gateway Protocol Routing (BGP)?
- Can I get access to Class of Service (CoS) Options?
- Is there a limit to the number of locations my provider can provide access to?
How difficult is it to integrate fiber into a company’s existing infrastructure?
Designing a fiber network and integrating it into the existing copper infrastructure of a business is essentially seamless as there is no ‘forklifting’ of equipment involved. It’s as simple as connecting into a customer’s location with a single pair of fiber cables, one for transmitting and one for receiving, and providing the equipment necessary to convert the fiber to standard Ethernet. Look for a provider that makes the transition from copper-based transmission facilities to fiber optic facilities as simple as plugging into an Ethernet jack on their Local Area Network (LAN).
Doak Field is senior director of enterprise sales for Comcast Business Services. Reach him at [email protected] or (770) 559-2156.