Tuesday, May 15, 2007

T1 Internet too slow? That’s blasphemous! When is it time to upgrade from a full T1 line?

T1 Internet too slow? That’s blasphemous!
When is it time to upgrade from a full T1 line?

So your business is growing and you find that the company requires a lot of bandwidth for everyday use. Maybe you started with a fractional T1 line and moved up to a Full T1 line, and perhaps you’ve even moved up to a bonded T1 line. Is this more than enough, or can you see the day you might need even more broadband?

Since the mid ‘90s, T1 has been the standard Internet connection for small to medium-sized businesses across the United States. You may be one of these small businesses, and some of you may have been proud of the fact that your company finally “needed” a T1 line. It can be seen as a rite of passage for a company growing. T1 provided reliable connections to the Internet, and maybe other offices.

With reliable high-speed connections at their disposal, businesses began to turn to the Internet for their business needs. For general use, a T1 line was more than enough. How can you imagine NEEDING anything faster? At the time T1 was becoming popular, companies like IBM were deploying T3s. It was understandable, though. Those companies had thousands and thousands of employees that needed to send e-mail, or what not. No way did a small business owner even fathom needing a T3.

Well, nowadays data communications has evolved into a bandwidth-hogging beast. Sales, customer servicing and marketing, and outsourced mainframes for data storages, etc, all require MORE speed.

Bill Gates once said that no one would need more than a 512k connection. Now that may sound silly right now, but will a T1 be compared to the 512k connections in the future? It depends on your needs so look into your choices before you jump the gun and purchase T3.

The right type of connection for you depends on a few things.

Try to figure out if the speed you have is enough, and whether or not your business is starting to outgrow that speed. Do you think you’ll need something faster in a year or two?

How critical is the information you’re transmitting? Would it be best to just route across multiple backbones? Redundancy may be very important to you because Internet lines can go down. You just have to make sure every circuit has to be different, and not just the carrier.

Can you program router tables? Do you have an ASN, are you familiar with ARIN and AS numbers? Personally, I will honestly say no, I don’t and I’m not. Since things can get pretty technical, if you don’t know the technology yourself, you’ll have to hire someone experienced and knowledgable to maintain your network. This can get pricy as typical house-calls to program router tables properly can run $3,000-$4,000.

Are you ready/in need of something more than a T1? Weigh your options, like I always say, and make a careful decision. Simply getting a balanced T1 might solve your needs. It could mean the success of your business.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Frame Relay - Is this the solution for you?

Frame Relay

Frame Relay is one of the most cost-effective types of data transmission available today. It’s a protocol standard for LAN internetworking which provides a fast and efficient method of transmitting information from a user device to LAN bridges and routers.

Frame Relay is a high-speed packet switched transmission service that connects two or more fixed points across a private network. Access to a Frame Relay network is done through an interface circuit known as a FRAD or Frame Relay Access Device. Sometimes it's called a Frame Relay Assembler/Disassembler. Most often, it's an option card in a router. The physical connection for Frame Relay Service is available in bandwidth anywhere from DS-0 (56k) to full DS-1 (T1) speeds.

Network providers usually employ frame relay for voice and data as an encapsulation technique used between LAN and over a WAN. Private or leased lines at the user end are connected to a Frame Relay node. The frame relay network handles transmissions over dynamic paths transparent to all end-users.

Designers of Frame Relay searched for a cost-efficient data transmission for discontinuous traffic between LANs and between end-points in a WAN. Frame Relay works by sending data in variable-size units called “frames” and leaves all the error-correction, like re-transmission of data, up to the end points; speeding up overall data transmission.

Frame Relay offers an attractive alternative to both dedicated lines and X.25 networks for connecting LANs to bridges and routers. The success of the Frame Relay protocol is based on the following two essential factors:

Virtual circuits only consume bandwidth when they’re transporting data, so they can exist simultaneously across a given transmission line. In addition, each device can use more of the bandwidth as necessary, and thus operate at higher speeds.
The improved reliability of communication lines and increased error-handling sophistication at end stations allows the Frame Relay protocol to discard erroneous frames. This eliminates time-consuming error-handling processing, which also helps in data transfer speeds.

And because Frame Relay uses a simple link layer protocol, your equipment usually requires only software changes or simple hardware modifications, so you don't have to invest a lot of money to upgrade your system. However, required testing is needed to determine that the system works properly and transmitted data is not lost.

Now the question is: Do you really need it?

Frame Relay traffic is a shared bandwidth connection that is provided by your local phone company. It does not use the Internet to route traffic between your installations, although it can be configured to route traffic into and out of the Internet.

If your business only needs Internet access for the computers in your office and you only need TCP/IP communications, then you don't need frame relay. You just need a point-to-point T1 circuit that routes into your local ISP network to enter the Internet through their gateway. Remember to set up a firewall to protect your internal computer systems from the access to the Internet when using a point-to-point circuit.

On the other hand, if you need to network business locations, but don’t want to pay for full-time dedicated trunk lines, or share your T1 line with other connections (like mainframes), then Frame Relay is for you. Frame Relay can maintain a reliable and continuous network connection for your needs.

The network service provider will provide a permanent virtual circuit (PVC) in most cases. This allows the customer to have a continuous, dedicated connection without having to pay for a full-time leased line. The service provider will figure out the route each frame travels to its destination and can charge based on usage.

A company, like yours, can select a level of service quality, allowing certain frames to have priority over less important ones. Frame relay can run on full or fractional T-carrier system providers, and complement a mid-range service between ISDN and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM).

Frame Relay is available in the following speeds (type and speed of frame relay may vary by ILEC): 56Kbps, 64Kbps, 128Kbps, 256Kbps, 512Kbps, 1.5Mbps, and 2Mbps. If this type if solution is for you, find the best Frame Relay Service in your area!

Monday, May 7, 2007

X.25 - I’ve got to say, this is definitely not an article on a X-Men movie sequel.

I’ve got to say, this is definitely not an article on a X-Men movie sequel.

X.25 is an International Telecommunication Union-Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) standard protocol suite for wide area networks (WAN) communications that defines how connections between user devices and network devices are established and maintained. Designed to operate effectively regardless no matter what kind of systems are connected to it, X.25 is typically used in the packet-switched networks (PSNs) of common carriers, such as the telephone and ISDN companies.

The need for WAN protocols capable of providing connectivity across public data networks (PDNs) in the ‘70s helped the standardization of X.25 by common carriers. The result is the international standard managed by the ITU-T. “Packet Switched Network” was the recognized name of the international collection of X.25 providers, mainly the various national telephone companies. Their combined network provided a huge global coverage for the following decades, and is still used in limited use.


First off, X.25 devices have to be explained before moving on. These network devices fall into three general categories:
Data terminal equipment (DTE) - End systems that communicate across the X.25 network. They are usually terminals, personal computers, or network hosts. Located on the property of individual subscribers.
Data circuit-terminating equipment (DCE) - Communications devices, such as modems and packet switches, which provide the interchange between DTE devices and a PSE. Generally located in the carrier's facilities.
Packet-Switching Exchange (PSE) - Switches that make up most of the carrier's network. They transfer data from one DTE device to another through the X.25 PSN.

X.25 was based on the concept of establishing "virtual calls," or switched virtual circuits (SVC), through the network with "data terminal equipment" (DTE) providing endpoints to users, which looked like point-to-point connections. See, X.25 was developed in the era of dumb terminals connecting to host computers. Dialing through a host computer would require a set of modems and phone lines for the computer, and require non-local callers make long-distance calls. Instead of dialing directly through the host computer, the host could have an X.25 connection to a network service provider. Subscribers, such as banks, are charged based on their use of the network. X.25 was typically billed as a flat monthly service fee, and then a price-per-packet on top of this.

Thanks to X.25, dumb-terminal users could dial into the network's local “PAD” (Packet Assembly/Disassembly facility). The PAD, a device commonly found in X.25 networks, is used when a DTE device, such as a character-mode terminal, is too simple to implement the full X.25 functionality.

The PAD is located between a DTE device and a DCE device, and it performs three primary functions:
Buffering (storing data until a device is ready to process it) – Buffers data sent to or from the DTE device.
Packet assembly - Assembles outgoing data into packets and forwards them to the DCE device. (This includes adding an X.25 header.)
Packet disassembly - disassembles incoming packets before forwarding the data to the DTE. (This includes removing the X.25 header.)

Virtual Circuits in X.25

A virtual circuit is a logical connected created to ensure two network devices communicate reliably. It denotes the existence of a logical, bi-directional path from one DTE device to another through an X.25 network, even though the connection can pass through any number of nodes/devices like DCE and PSEs. Multiple virtual circuits (logical connections) can be multiplexed into a single physical circuit (a physical connection). Virtual circuits are de-multiplexed at the remote end, and data is sent to the appropriate destinations.

There are two types of X.25 virtual circuits:
Switched Virtual Circuits (SVCs) - Temporary connections that require a request session connection each and every time the devices need to communicate. If communication occurs over an SVC and neither device has additional data to transfer, the virtual circuit is terminated.
Permanent virtual circuits (PVCs) - Permanently established connections used for frequent and consistent data transfers that do not require that sessions be established and terminated. Data transfer can be done whenever necessary because the session is always active.

X.25 Today

Thanks to the advent of "perfect" quality digital phone services and error correction in modems, the operating cost of X.25 was no longer worthwhile. This brought forth Frame relay, which is essentially the X.25 protocol with the error correction systems removed. The concept of virtual circuits is still used within ATM to allow for traffic engineering and network multiplexing.

X.25 networks are still in limited use around the world. It remains one of the only available reliable links in many portions of the developing world, where access to a PDN may be the most reliable and low cost way to access the Internet.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Clear Channel T1: A clear cut connection may be the solution you need.

Clear Channel T1: A clear cut connection may be the solution you need.

Before I begin, I want to say that a clear channel T1 line is no more than a regular, full T1 line. In my very first article about residential T1 lines, I touched on what a T1 line is, so click here to read that article. After you’re done, continue on to read more supplementary information on a regular “Point to Point” or “Clear Channel” T1 line.

First, I’m going to explain DS0, or “DDS.” A basic channel carrying voice or data information through telephone transmission is 64kbps wide. When used for voice, and sometimes in data use, the top bit of each 8bits is “lost” to equate only 56kpbs. This 56k service, found in dial-up Internet service, is also referred to as “DS0” access.

A T1 line (a.k.a. DS1) is no more than 24 DS0s combined together in a time-slice fashion. Since there are 24 DS0s (each 64kbps wide), the actual available data rate for a T1 is 1536 Kbps, or 1.5Mbps, which is, obviously, 24 times faster than DS0. This requires using a line coding known as “B8ZS”, but “clear channel” is the common term for it.

Now we’ve established that a “Full T1” line and a “Clear Channel” line are just different terms with the same meaning. A Clear Channel T1 service reliably connects your network to the Internet through dedicated non-shared means. You order a clear channel T1 line; you get exclusive rights to one full T1 line. T1s provide a dependable 1.54 Mbps of bandwidth. As the circuits are delivered over dedicated copper connections, they provide constant symmetrical downloading and uploading of data. T1s are ideal for all aspects of business that depend on Internet Connectivity from e-mail access, web conferencing, and e-commerce applications.

T1 lines can be used by themselves, or bundled together to form multi-meg circuits. Their stability provides dependable and consistent dataflow for the transmission of both data applications as well as business class VoIP.

There is a significant downside to having a T1 line: PRICE. It’s not cheap to have T1 service, which is why so many companies offer a variety of T1 services at limited capabilities, such as fractional and bonded T1 lines. Check out Best T1 Line to compare T1 providers and determine the best T1 line for your needs.