Speed Up Your Access or Optimize Your WAN?
Data rates are getting extraordinarily fast, but faster isn't always your only option.
Early this year, researchers from the University College London Optical Networks Group set a record for the fastest-ever data rate for digital information -- 1.125 Tb/s. That's terabits. With that data rate, you could download the entire Games of Thrones series, in HD, within one second!
To achieve their record-breaking date rate, researchers built an optical communications system with multiple transmitting channels and a single receiver using techniques from information theory and digital signal processing. They then applied coding techniques commonly used in wireless communications, but not yet widely used in optical communications, to ensure the transmitted signals adapt to distortions in the system electronics.
Of course, once the system is tested across thousands of miles of optical fiber it will be ready for deployment with more accurate throughput results. At that time, the most obvious deployment of this technology would be for super-channels, which are important for core optical communications systems that Tier 1 carriers depend on for national and global communication. But as history has shown us, we can ultimately expect to see a trickledown effect with development of new cost-effective technologies for increasing enterprise, SMB, and residential Internet speeds.
Your first reaction might be "what would I do with ALL that bandwidth?" (Keep in mind the current state-of-the-art commercial optical transmission systems transmit at 100 Gb/s, and the average U.S. high-speed Internet circuit is 12.6 Mb/s.) However, I'm guessing you and I both asked that question when we first heard of a cable modem or even 8M of RAM computing in 1994. Such capacity is laughable now.
Since it's not uncommon to get Internet access at $0.75/MB, a network administrator needs to ask, "Do I optimize our WAN network or just throw more bandwidth at it?" The answer is, "Yes." What's the point of getting on the Autobahn when you are driving a scooter? Conversely, why trick out your muscle car when the speed limit is 25 MPH? So you do both -- within your budget constraints and availability of high-speed Internet access, of course.
Latency, jitter, network configuration -- these are a few bottlenecks you need to address even if you have your own Autobahn. Your IP network has quickly becoming a service you can't take lightly or for granted. Voice, video, conferencing, sensitive data (security) all traverse this network and uptime is critical.
If you are not sure how to properly purchase high-speed Internet or configure your networks, you may want to find an independent consulting firm that does. The ROI is significant.
Telecommunications carriers know high-speed Internet is a service sold on supply and demand. Optimizing your WAN is the best way to get the most bang for your buck (as well as set up security measures)... regardless of how fast you can go.
"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.