Fiber to the Front Door

Vendors offer optical networks in a variety of flavors, for a variety of needs.

Too often today, network connections from a company's LAN to another site or to the Internet run over a copper T1 line at 1.5M bit/sec. That can create a bandwidth bottleneck. Chris Nicoll, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va., says direct optical connections from company networks to a metropolitan fiber network and the Internet make the problem go away.

Two new companies, Yipes Communications Inc. in San Francisco and Telseon Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., see the bottleneck as a marketing opportunity. Both aim to string optical fiber from the Internet backbone to the corporate front door. Telseon will focus on providing fiber connectivity to service providers, which in turn can market the high-speed connection to corporate customers. Yipes plans to sell directly to corporations.

Make the Darkness Light

Rather than string fiber-optic cable themselves, Yipes and Telseon are purchasing unused (dark) fiber that already runs beneath city streets. They're lighting up the fiber and offering Gigabit Ethernet connections to it. That allows companies in nearby buildings to link optically with LANs at their other facilities within the same metropolitan area, says Karman Sistanizadeh, vice president of network architecture at Yipes. It also provides a direct optical link to access points on the Internet backbone.

For companies such as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Palo Alto, Calif., connecting to a network that's both optical and conforms to Ethernet standards increases speed and makes network management easier. The foundation has signed on with Yipes.

Standardizing on Ethernet, from the fiber under the street, through the corporate servers and all the way to individual desktops, makes building a WAN between buildings and campuses a plug-and-play proposition.

Foundation CIO Phil Hitchings says his organization will use the bandwidth to send computerized tomography scans from one facility to another. Then it can add bandwidth as needed in 1M bit/sec. increments, up to 1G bit/ sec., Hitchings says, which means the medical group pays only for the bandwidth it uses.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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