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Connecting Like the Big Boys

As many working adults have learned, the technology and resources available at work are usually different—and more substantial—than what most of us have at home. That only makes sense. At home, the largest network we have is usually a few family members. At work, a network might have to accommodate hundreds or thousands of workstations in a large building.

The world of corporate Internet technology is completely different from any connectivity packages we have, or could ever dream up. For instance, at a large company, the download time for data or documents or the speed of the connection is usually lightning-fast. Why? Simply because a corporate network with Internet connection is at an entirely different level from what we're used to at home. Still, that doesn't mean top-notch Internet connections are out of reach.

Corporate connectivity.

If you're starting a business or just looking to boost your bandwidth, here are a few of the common technologies being used in the corporate arena that deliver fast Internet connections.

ISDN: Integrated Services Digital Network.

ISDN is basically a telephone line made of copper wiring that provides extremely fast data transmissions. There are two types of ISDN: B-channel and D-channel.

B-channel is used for the transfer of data, video, voice or any other multimedia. It runs at 64 kbps (kilobytes per second). D-channel ISDN runs at 16 kbps or at 64 kbps, depending on how you set it up. The D-channel is used primarily to switch your equipment in the ISDN network and the equipment at your ISDN site. Depending on the size of the corporation, the ISDN network can slow down a bit when more people are on the network downloading video, music or applications. Corporations also use this kind of connection for their video conferencing and for remote access to their computer networks.

T1 lines.

Corporations will also use "T1" technology to obtain fast Internet speeds for their businesses. A T1 line can carry 24 digitized voice channels and a data rate of 1.544 megabits per second, as well as carry about 60 times the amount of data per second that the typical home modem can.

The typical cost of a T1 line can be more than 10 times the cost of home Internet service, depending on the service provider. To the average person, that may sound like a lot for Internet service, but businesses don't give it a second thought. Not only are they already used to paying more for most business versions of everything—they HAVE to have a fast and reliable Internet connection for their company to run efficiently.

The truth is that even a medium-size company needs more speed than that, so there are options beyond T1.

A T3 connection delivers a much faster Internet connection for companies. A T3 line can transmit 43.23 megabits per second, which is the equivalent of 28 T1s.

Optical carrier.

A lot of companies looking for an even faster connection turn to a technology called OC1. The "OC" stands for optical carrier, because it uses fiber optics instead of copper telephone wiring. The number describes how many multiples of 51.84 mbs (megabits per second) it can carry. The speed of OC1 technology is not so much faster than a T3, but one advantage is that it gets you close to OC3 speeds. OC3 delivers 155.52 mbs.

For large companies that require even more speed, OC12 is optimal—for its speed, signal strength and reliability.

Of course, the faster you want to go, the more you have to be willing to pay. As with anything else in business, to get more services that allow you to do more, the more you have to be willing to pay for them. But generally, that's better for your business, allowing you to be more efficient and, hopefully, more successful.

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