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"The market for managed Ethernet services is expected to grow by 30% per year until 2010, when it will top $25 billion worldwide."

Infonetics Research

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About Ethernet Services

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a technology the was developed to allow computers on the same network to communicate at speeds ranging from 10 mbps to 100 mbps (also known as 'Fast Ethernet'). The next version of Ethernet, called Gigabit Ethernet, increased the data transfer speed to 1000 mbps (or 1 gbps). This version, created in 1999, allowed gigabit Ethernet to become the new standard of unshielded twisted pair (UTP) date communication - called 1000BASE-T. This technology is now commonly found in your Ethernet card in your personal computer.

Gigabit and fast Ethernet runs over copper wire found in category 5 cables. Due to the high rate of speed and the physics of transmission lines, the maximum distance between the two points on the network is limited. Below is a chart of the varying connections and their maximum specified distances.

Name Medium Max Distance Max Distance
1000 BASE-CX balanced copper cabling 25 meters 82 feet
1000 BASE-T unshielded twisted pair 100 meters 328 feet
1000 BASE-SX multi-mode fiber 500 meters 1,640 feet
1000 BASE-LX single-mode fiber 2 km 6,561 feet
1000 BASE-BX10 single-mode fiber, over single-strand fiber 10 km 32,808 feet

Note that the distance Gigabit Ethernet can reach is dependent upon the bandwidth (which is measured in MHz*km). The greater the bandwidth of the fiber, the further the distance supported.

Why is Ethernet Important to Businesses?

When a business connects to the Internet, they are in essence accessing the ISP's network by way of a Local Loop provided by the local telephone company, as illustrated below:

"Regular" (or SONET) connections include DS1 (T1), Bonded DS1, DS3 (T3), Frame Relay, and OCX. Each service actually requires the cooperation of the two companies between you and the Internet (the local phone company and your ISP). Having two companies in between you and the Internet adds cost to the equation, not to mention multiple points of failure.

Connecting directly to your ISP is obviously ideal in that it reduces cost and increases the amount of speed your ISP can provide. Ethernet technology allows business to "plug" directly in to their ISP of choice providing that the customer is within a close physical proximity to the ISP's access point, or what we call "Lit Building". Using Ethernet, your connection to the Internet will look like this:

Ethernet technology makes is possible for businesses who reside close to the physical Lit Buildings of ISPs to hop directly on to their networks. The ISP is then able to control the quality of the customer's LAN connection to the outside world, or to other points within the network.

Why is the Distance to a Lit Building Important?

As discussed above, each transmission medium has a limit to how far it can transmit at 1 gbps. Balanced copper cabling can only transmit up to 25 meters and is primarily used in server racks. Unshielded twisted pair can effectively carry a signal up to 100 meters (328 feet) before the signal strength falls below the acceptable threshold. As you get into the single and multi-mode fibers, your transmission distance increases to 2 km, but the cost per meter also increases accordingly. Likewise, fiber-capable routers that can send and receive signals over fiber are also much more expensive than traditional 1000BASE-T and 1000BASE-CX routers.

All in all, your ability to access the Internet at very fast speeds using Gigabit Ethernet technology depends on two factors:

  1. How far away (in feet) are you from the ISPs hardware?
  2. What capability does your ISP's hardware have?
There is really no easy way to get Ethernet connectivity to your ISP. Careful research must be done to determine the specific situation, but the tools provided on this web site provide the basis for beginning that research. Knowing which carriers to contact - and which ones not to contact - save time, money, and headache. But in the end, getting a great Ethernet connection to the Internet is well worth it.