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Getting From Point to Point
Best ways to interconnect businesses with multiple locations needing high speed digital line services.

By: John Shepler

Businesses with multiple locations need a way to network their far flung operations. Within a corporate campus or industrial park, you can often use copper pairs, fiber optic cable, wireless or free space optical transmission. But if your corporate office is in one city and you have dozens, hundreds or thousands of retail locations across the country or around the world, you need a long haul infrastructure.

T1 From Point to Point
A popular connection is the dedicated T1 point to point line service. It's called dedicated because it is 100% dedicated to your communications. No one else uses the line, which helps keep your information secure. It's also always available. You lease the line facilities with a monthly charge on a 1, 2 or 3 year contract and it's your private connection.

What can you use your T1 point to point service for? Just about anything that can be digitized and will fit within the bandwidth of the circuit. T1 is bi-directional with 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth in each direction. That makes it suitable for carrying traditional PBX based telephone calls, VoIP telephone, broadcast quality stereo audio, surveillance video, video conferencing, medical imaging and telemedicine, remote instruction, sales and accounting data, computer aided drawings and manufacturing instructions.

Bonding For Higher Bandwidth
If you need additional bandwidth you can "bond" T1 lines together to get two times, four times, up to six times the bandwidth or 9 Mbps. Above that, it makes sense to move up to the next higher grade of service which is T3, also known as DS3 line service. That runs at 45 Mbps and is capable of carrying broadcast quality video with some compression.

If you need reliable connections between locations but not on a full time basis, frame relay service may be more cost effective. Each of your locations connects to the frame relay network, which sets up virtual connections from point to point. Other people also use the network, so you buy a committed information rate or CIR which guarantees your packets reliable transport when you need it.

Using the Internet For Transport
The least expensive option is to use DSL or T1 connections from each location to the public Internet. You can set up a VPN or virtual private network using encryption software to protect the privacy of your data. It's possible to get connected to the Internet from just about anywhere and you can add locations at will. You are only subject to the vagaries of the Internet, which is a "best effort" service rather than guaranteed performance.

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