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Ethernet Makes The LAN to WAN Connection Easy

Metro and Carrier Ethernet offer seemless connections from your company network to the outside world.

By: John Shepler

Within the LAN, or Local Area Network, the Ethernet protocol is ubiquitous. But once you have a need to connect beyond the corporate confines, you need a method to connect to telecom transport services. This has always required a protocol conversion due to the differences between the LAN and WAN environments. No more. Now you can connect seamlessly from LAN to WAN with Metro and Carrier Ethernet connections.

One Protocol For LAN and WAN
The advantage for packet based networks, especially IP networks, is that entire network topology runs on the same technology. This improves transmission efficiency and reduces the latency involved in converting between protocols at each end of the circuit. By extending Ethernet into the WAN, or Wide Area Network, it is possible to treat a multi-location network as if it were a single large network. That's true even if the various interconnected LANs are hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

So, what is available in the way of LAN to WAN Ethernet connections? There are two basic technologies available. Both are typically found in metro areas where competitive carriers offer Ethernet services on their own IP-based networks.

The Copper Solution to Minimize Construction Costs
If your business is located within a few miles of a carrier POP, or Point of Presence, you may be able to get EoC or Ethernet over Copper access. New modulation technologies combined with multiple twisted copper pair allows carriers to provide Ethernet service via multi-pair telephone cable. This is the same cabling that is already installed at nearly all business locations, originally to provide multi-line analog telephone service. T1 and ISDN PRI services make use of the same cable to bring in digital voice and data services. Now Ethernet can be provided by bundling multiple dry copper pair driven by terminal equipment at each end of the loop.

What bandwidths are available from EoC technology? Anything from 1 to 45 Mbps, depending on the carrier's facilities and the distance to the POP. Ethernet over Copper bandwidths decrease rapidly over distance, so higher bandwidth services are available close to the POP. Even if you are a block away, though, it still can make economic sense to use existing copper facilities rather than install new fiber optic conduits.

Fiber Optics For Higher Bandwidth Connections
Higher bandwidths, up to Gigabit Ethernet or even 10 Gig E, are available on fiber optic Ethernet connections. If your LAN is running at 1000 Mbps and you have a Gigabit Ethernet over fiber connection to a data center across town, the effect of sending data over the WAN is completely transparent.

Normally, the WAN presents a bottleneck for packet transmission. That's due to the high cost of WAN connections relative to LAN connections. Using traditional T-carrier or SONET line services, a company may well have to settle for a tenth the throughput over the WAN as on the LAN. That may not be true with Ethernet connections. Competitive carriers are pricing Ethernet WAN bandwidth a much lower cost per Mbps than other technologies. At higher speeds, the savings can be as much as half or better.

Would your company benefit from switching to high bandwidth Ethernet services? You owe it to yourself to find out how much you can save with LAN to WAN Ethernet connections now.

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