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Understanding Telecommunications Carrier Networks

Last updated: 30 Oct 2023

From the beginning of the telegraph in the 19th century, telecommunications have evolved significantly, becoming an essential component in connecting businesses with their customers, partners, and employees worldwide. In this blog, we will dive into telecommunications networks, examining the various types of networks within a carrier network, and highlighting the distinctions between cable, fiber, and mobile technologies. Additionally, we will discuss the equipment for setting up a network and provide insights on cost determination. Lastly, we will share valuable tips for monitoring network performance and detecting potential issues before they escalate.

Types of Networks in a Carrier Network

A telecommunications carrier network is a complex system of interconnected nodes that transmit data, voice, and video signals. Several types of networks make up a carrier network, including voice, internet, and mobile networks. 

  1. Voice Networks

Voice networks are responsible for transmitting voice calls between users. The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is the traditional voice network that uses circuit-switching technology to route calls. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) recently became a popular alternative to PSTN. VoIP converts voice signals into digital data and transmits them over the internet, offering cost savings and additional features compared to traditional phone lines. 

  1. Internet Networks

Internet networks are responsible for transmitting data between users and websites or applications. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) connect businesses and consumers to the global internet, while backbone networks are high-capacity data highways that link ISPs together. These networks employ packet-switching technology, which fragments data into smaller units called packets. These packets are then transmitted independently across the network and reassembled at their intended destination, ensuring efficient and reliable data transfer. 

  1. Mobile Networks

Mobile networks offer wireless connectivity for voice calls, text messages, and data services. Cellular networks facilitate signal transmission between cell towers and mobile devices by utilizing radio frequencies. Meanwhile, wireless data networks, such as Wi-Fi and 5G, grant high-speed internet access within limited ranges. These networks empower businesses with on-the-go connectivity and support various applications, encompassing mobile payments, remote monitoring, and more. 

Cable, Fiber, and Mobile Technologies

Three primary technologies stand out when delivering telecommunications services to businesses: cable, fiber, and mobile. These technologies come with their own distinct set of benefits and drawbacks. Assessing factors such as location, budget, and unique connectivity requirements is vital to determine the best option for your business. 

  1. CableCable technology uses coaxial cables to transmit data, voice, and video signals. It is predominantly accessible in urban and suburban regions, offering high-speed internet access at a budget-friendly cost. However, cable networks can become congested during peak usage times, leading to slower speeds and reduced performance. 
  2. FiberFiber-optic technology uses thin strands of glass or plastic to transmit data as light pulses. It boasts numerous benefits over cable, such as increased speeds, enhanced reliability, and immunity to electromagnetic interference. Although fiber networks are experiencing rapid expansion, their availability remains limited in some areas, and they may come with a higher cost than cable. 
  3. MobileMobile technology provides wireless connectivity for voice and data services. It offers the advantage of mobility, allowing businesses to stay connected wherever they go. On the other hand, mobile networks may exhibit inconsistent coverage and potentially deliver a lower performance compared to fixed-line services, especially in rural or remote regions. 

Equipment Required for Setting Up a Network

Various equipment components are required to set up a telecommunications network for your business, such as: 

  1. Modems and routers: These devices enable your business to access the internet and create a local area network (LAN) for seamless connectivity among your devices.  
  2. Switches and hubs: These devices manage the data flow between devices on your LAN and help optimize network performance. 
  3. Servers and storage devices: These devices store and manage the applications and data your business relies on, such as email, file sharing, and customer databases. 
  4. Network cables and connectors: These components link your network devices together and ensure that data can be transmitted efficiently and securely. 
  5. Network security appliances: These devices safeguard your network against external risks, including malware, cyberattacks, and unauthorized intrusion.

Understanding Costs

Several factors determine the cost of telecommunications services for your business, including: 

  1. Bandwidth requirements: The amount of data your business needs to transmit will affect the speed and capacity of your required services, impacting costs. 
  2. User and device count: With an increase in the number of users and devices linked to your network, the demand for network resources also rises, leading to higher costs. 
  3. Type of service: Telecommunications services like voice, internet, and mobile each offer their own pricing structures and contract terms. 
  4. Geographical location: Telecommunications service availability and pricing can differ based on your area, with urban regions providing a wider selection of options and more competitive rates than rural locales. 

To manage costs effectively, businesses should carefully assess their connectivity requirements, research available options, and negotiate contracts with their chosen telecommunications carrier. 

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Service Level Agreement serves as a contract between your business and a telecommunications carrier outlining the expected performance level and support for the services provided. Key components of an SLA include: 

  1. Uptime guarantees: This refers to the percentage of time the carrier promises their services will be available and operational. 
  2. Latency and packet loss: These metrics measure the responsiveness and reliability of the network, with lower latency and packet loss indicating better performance. 
  3. Response times for issue resolution: This indicates how quickly the carrier commits to addressing and resolving any problems or service interruptions that may arise. 
  4. Compensation for service interruptions: This outlines any refunds or credits the carrier will provide in the event of service downtime or other performance issues. 

When negotiating an SLA, businesses should prioritize the components most critical to their operations and ensure they have a clear understanding of the carrier’s obligations and commitments. 

Monitoring Network Performance

Regularly monitoring your network’s performance is essential for maintaining optimal connectivity and identifying potential issues before they become critical. Tools and techniques for monitoring network performance include: 

  1. Network monitoring software: These programs grant real-time insights into your network’s visibility, allowing you to observe usage trends and pinpoint bottlenecks or other issues. 
  2. Analyzing usage patterns: Regularly reviewing your network’s usage data can help you spot trends or anomalies that may indicate performance issues or security risks. 
  3. Regularly testing speeds and latency: Regular speed and latency tests can help you ensure that your network performs at its best and meets the requirements outlined in your SLA. 

Understanding the basics of telecommunications carrier networks is crucial for businesses looking to optimize their connectivity and stay competitive in today’s digital landscape. By closely looking at different network types, technologies, and costs, businesses can make smart decisions about which services and carriers best fit their needs. Additionally, monitoring network performance and staying informed about advancements in telecommunications technology can help businesses maintain optimal connectivity and address potential issues before they become critical. 

BlackPoint IT offers a comprehensive carrier services portfolio; we can help you optimize your network performance and reduce costs, whether you’re looking for voice, internet, or mobile solutions. Our services include network design and implementation, carrier management and optimization, and ongoing support and monitoring. Contact us today!