Connectivity Advantages of Virtual Leased Lines How Ethernet over MPLS gives you private line performance without the high cost.
By: John Shepler
Leased lines have been popular with businesses since they were made available from the telephone companies decades ago. But how about a virtual leased line? Could you make good use of this technology?
Before we get into virtual leased lines, let’s take a quick review of what leased lines are and how they work.
Leased Lines vs Shared Bandwidth
A leased line is a telecommunications line that you lease for a particular time period. This is typically 1 to 3 years. During that time, you have exclusive use of the line for your applications.
Contrast that with shared bandwidth, the norm on the Internet. You don’t lease the Internet, you may lease access to the Internet. Once you are on the Internet, your traffic gets in line with everyone else’s and traverses the various networks that get your packets from source to destination.
Last Mile Often Determines Performance
Actually, the core of the Internet works pretty well most of the time. The congestion and latency you may experience is generally caused by the access or last mile connection. Shared bandwidth services such as cellular broadband, satellite, DSL or cable broadband are shared “best effort” services. You get what you get at any particular time because your performance is determined by how much of the bandwidth pool is being used by other customers.
How Can You Improve This Situation?
With a leased line, of course. This is called DIA or Dedicated Internet Access. Typical leased lines include T1 (1.5 Mbps), Ethernet over Copper ( 10 to 50 Mbps), DS3 (45 Mbps), OCx (155 Mbps and up) and Ethernet over Fiber (10 Mbps to 10 Gbps and more).
Why choose this hybrid approach of dedicated access and public shared Internet? It’s to improve the performance of your Internet connection end to end. You need the Internet to connect with customers and vendors and gain access to the wealth of content that is the World Wide Web. DIA gives you the best shot at excellent performance for business.
Dedicated lines are for much more than simply connecting to the Internet. They were in heavy use before there even was an Internet. Radio stations employed specially equalized analog lines to get their signals from studio to transmitter. Fire alarm systems use low bandwidth dedicated lines to send alerts to monitoring stations.
Rise of the T1 Line
Computerization of business made the T1 line popular. This is a dedicated private leased line that offers 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth. It’s still used to interconnect retail franchises to headquarters and for connectivity in rural locations where other services aren’t available. T1 has been the standard way to connect cell phone towers to central offices, but that is giving way to fiber optical lines that support 4G and beyond. If 1.5 Mbps isn’t enough for your needs, you can bond T1 lines to get up to 10 or 12 Mbps. A specialized version of T1, called ISDN PRI, provides telephone line trunking for PBX telephone systems.
What T1 and other leased lines offer beyond dedicated use of the line capacity is low latency, jitter and packet loss, along with the security of knowing that you are the only one with access. This is especially valuable for banks and other financial institutions where maximizing security is a very high priority.
Low latency is an important characteristic in preserving the quality of voice communications and teleconferencing. It’s also key to getting the fastest response from cloud based services.
Addressing the Cost Issue
The one drawback of leased lines is that they get expensive over long distances. Every leg in the path requires dedicating or “nailing up” a hardwired circuit (or fiber channel) almost indefinitely. Is there any other suitable option?
Yes. It’s called the virtual leased line (VLL). “Virtual” may sound a bit like “Internet,” but this is something different. Virtual does mean that you share a connectivity resource. In this case, that resource is a privately run MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching) network.
MPLS is the answer to cost effective private bandwidth service for nationwide and International connection. Few companies can afford true dedicated private circuits on transatlantic cable or even to multiple locations in the US. MPLS providers create their own core fiber optic networks with huge service footprints. This gives you the connectivity you need to the locations you want to interconnect. The core of the network runs at 10, 40 or 100 Gbps, so you’ll have all the bandwidth you need now and for growth, without having to commit to line capacity you can’t load up at the moment.
How MPLS Works
MPLS is a specialized technology that uses proprietary label switching to set up communications paths. These paths support IP traffic, but the network is not based on IP. That’s a security benefit. More security is derived from MPLS being a “private” network with no access by the general public. If you still want more security, you have the option to encrypt your traffic. The MPLS network will transport it.
The MPLS network operator sets up your virtual leased line from point to point, as you specify. You have a committed information rate (CIR) that defines the bandwidth you are guaranteed. A bonus is that some MPLS carriers allow you to burst above that rate for show intervals, something a hardwired circuit can’t do. MPLS service level agreements also specify the latency, jitter and packet loss you can expect. These are similar to what you’d get with other leased line options.
You may hear VLL also described as Virtual Private Wire Service (VPWS) or EoMPLS (Ethernet over MPLS). A related service is Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) that is a many to many meshed network. It gives you the option of creating a LAN that interconnects all of your business locations over a large MPLS network.
Does this technology sound like what you need right now for your applications? Get more information and latest pricing on dedicated leased private lines and virtual leased line options now.
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