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4 Types of Bandwidth: Advantages and Disadvantages

Today’s business networks are digital, complex and distributed. They demand more bandwidth than analog minds of decades past imagined. In this article, we’ll look at services offered along with bandwidth ranges, advantages and disadvantages.

 

Types of Bandwidth

Several classes of service exist for business communications; each class contains multiple service options. Because of factors including bandwidth, latency and throughput, some are better fits for specific business applications than others. The main classes are Public Wireless, Public Broadband, Private Networks and hybrid Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN). We’ve put together a summary chart comparing service options, bandwidth, cost and a few other features to help you decide which types of bandwidth are right for your organization. You can download our Bandwidth Comparison Chart.


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PUBLIC WIRELESS

Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular service, also referred to as 4G, and satellite tend to be more expensive than terrestrial services offering similar bandwidth. They may be the only option in areas cable providers haven’t reached with Internet services and existing twisted pair copper phone lines can’t keep up with data demands. Both 4G/LTE and satellite are shared services. They are sold in packages of up to 100 Mbps bandwidth, often with data caps, above which costs rise significantly. They can be viable failover options when used on a limited basis. High latency is an issue, particularly on satellite connections.

The newest generation of public wireless, 5G, is currently only available in select areas. Keep an eye out for updates on this game-changing technology. If even some of the promises of 5G come to fruition, it will be a powerful option for business WANs.

 

PUBLIC BROADBAND

The term broadband is shorthand for broad bandwidth. These high-speed Internet connections are provided through either cable or telephone companies. Broadband Internet uses multiple data channels to transfer large quantities of information. Popular broadband services include Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable and fiber. Bandwidth offerings vary, depending on the service provider, with DSL on the low end (up to 40 Mbps), cable in the middle (up to 300 Mbps) and fiber offerings at the top (up to 10 Gbps). DSL and cable services are often asymmetrical, with upload speeds coming in significantly lower than downloads.

The main benefit of broadband is its relative low cost for high bandwidth. Tradeoffs include security and reliability. A single public broadband connection is vulnerable to quality issues and even outages. When broadband quality suffers, Voice over IP (VoIP) calls drop and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) disconnects, which is unacceptable to most business users. On the other hand, business users may be fine with minor or infrequent outages because of the low cost of the service.

Increasingly, businesses are leveraging multiple broadband connections with SD-WAN technology in hybrid networks to achieve efficiency and reliability. More on that later.

 

PRIVATE NETWORKS

As the name implies, private networks are not shared. They are sold through carriers as professional business services with Service Level Agreements (SLA) that include Quality of Service (QoS) terms. Because of this, contracts are significantly more expensive than best effort public broadband services and have lengthy contract durations (typically 36 to 60 months).

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a data-carrying technique for high-performance, private telecommunications networks. It leverages encapsulated data and is partitioned off from the public Internet, providing a secure transport mode. MPLS can use a range of access technologies, typically employing T1 (1.54 Mbps) on the low end and fiber or Metro Ethernet (up to 10 Gbps) on the high end.

Before the availability of broadband services and SD-WAN technology, MPLS was the best way to ensure point-to-point connectivity and reliable network performance for real-time applications like video conferencing and VoIP. As with any of the listed services, a single MPLS link is vulnerable to outages.

Microwave is a wireless private network service offering symmetrical bandwidth up to 500 Mbps. Extremely reliable in fair weather conditions, microwave is vulnerable to disruptions from rain, snow and low-flying clouds.

Availability of services may vary in rural areas vs. urban areas and even in different parts of a city. Carriers in the same geographic area may offer different packages with varying QoS guarantees, contract pricing and terms. A telecom broker or managed service provider can help navigate the ins and outs of services available in your area and match your needs to the best offerings. We would be glad to refer you to one of our partners for assistance. For a referral, please contact us.

 

SOFTWARE-DEFINED WIDE AREA NETWORKS (SD-WAN)

Certain SD-WAN technologies (including WANworX™ by Ecessa) make it possible to combine any service from any provider to create a resilient public/private network. There are numerous advantages to having two or more links to the Internet.

  • Resiliency and protection against carrier outages. SD-WAN networks with two or more diverse connections can be configured to provide automatic link failover or to duplicate data over multiple connections. If one connection is lost due to a construction accident or carrier issue, data continues to flow across the undamaged link with no loss of data and no downtime.
  • Compliance and security. Businesses in regulated industries can enjoy a secure network with reliable data, voice and video services without paying a premium for MPLS and multiple T1 connections. Leveraging multiple lower cost, high bandwidth public broadband links and applying SD-WAN features, such as data encapsulation and encryption, a stateful Layer-4 firewall, VPN, packet duplication, failover and other QoS features will achieve high reliability and security at affordable rates.
  • Cost effective expansion of existing MPLS networks. For clients “stuck” in a costly MPLS contract, there’s hope! Supplementing a T1 or other high-priced service by adding lower cost broadband can be a huge win when it comes to throughput, business efficiency, failover protection and budget.

 

What Type of Bandwidth is Right for My Organization?

It depends. Here are things to consider.

  • How many people use the network?
  • What do they use the network for? Are they accessing applications in the cloud? Retrieving information from a data center? Pushing large amounts of data out?
  • Do they connect to branch locations via a wide area network (WAN)? How many locations are connecting?
  • What core applications do they run and how bandwidth-intensive is each? For example, streaming 4K video consumes considerably more bandwidth than reading email.
  • Is there an existing circuit under contract? Does it need to be replaced or combined with additional circuits for more bandwidth and network resiliency?
  • What are the needs for security and compliance? Are secure virtual private network (VPN) connections between locations needed? Is it a regulated industry, such as finance or healthcare? Is sensitive information stored onsite or in a data center?
  • What is the urgency of communication and what are quality of service expectations? How tolerant is the business to delays and outages? Does commerce grind to a halt?
  • What is the budget?
  • What services are available in the geographic location?

The great news is, capacity abounds to feed bandwidth-hungry applications. To meet your specific needs, Ecessa SD-WAN technology will combine any services from any providers to deliver up to 20 Gbps total bandwidth. Ecessa technology provides the capability to create private networks and implement the level of security your organization needs, at the price you need. Never suffer a carrier outage again with Ecessa’s Never Down™ secure SD-WAN configuration.

Contact us to learn more about Ecessa.

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