Infrastructure Options

Consider the number of applications used daily by the typical network user. It doesn't take long for the application count to get into double-digits. That said, now consider those applications and services that are actually relevant to the business at hand for a given job position or function, specifically those applications and services that are critical for one to do the job for which they were hired. Once again, it remains rather easy to get to a significant number of items on the list.

What options are available that will allow these applications and services to be accessed from varying degrees of connectivity? For purposes of discussion, keep the idea of "varying degrees of connectivity" limited to those available to the home. The plight of the road warrior is a discussion, though no less important, for a later time.

One of the early considerations in constructing a solution must be the access methodology and bandwidth afforded by said methodology. Three somewhat prevalent methods come to mind as having the widest availability currently:

■ Fiber optic access

Each offers relatively high bandwidth capabilities to the user community. By far, fiber optic solutions offer the highest bandwidth (ranging from 5 to 30 Mbps downstream, 2 to 5 Mbps upstream and climbing), dwarfing cable and DSL capabilities. Cable and DSL are in heavy competition, providing nearly equivalent bandwidth (1.5 to 10 Mbps downstream; upstream varies) in most markets. The typical mid-range fiber optic offering is roughly equivalent in price to the high-end price of DSL and cable at 5 to 6 Mbps. However, it should be said that cable has excellent prospects for future development. Some providers are offering 25 Mbps downstream speeds in early 2007 with 100+ Mbps offerings on the horizon.

While no further discussion of the fiber optic solution is included in this book, there are further discussions of both cable and DSL as the more widely available options for connectivity. Metropolitan wireless networks are emerging with mixed reviews. However, it is only a very small matter of time and evolution before wireless broadband is a viable reality for the teleworker. Notably absent from the array of options is the traditional dialup modem. There is simply too much lacking in available bandwidth and reliability for such an option to be viable.

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