Last Mile Access enables enterprises to create Wide Area Networks, point-to-point networks, and physical access to hosted applications in the service provider’s data centre as well as in the private or public cloud. Last Mile access is a physical component of the network, which primarily provides network connectivity to enable access to a wide variety of technology solutions.
Network connectivity using last mile access enables enterprises to incorporate other services such as Internet, VoIP, site connectivity and data centre interconnect. Various Last Mile access technologies are available to provide the necessary transport of voice, video, and data traffic to reach various locations. A feasibility study is performed to ensure that the correct last mile access technology is scoped at each customer site taking into consideration the ability of the technology to provide scalability, reliability, management, and quality of service. For carrier-grade quality service, dedicated fibre and microwave are the layer 2 access technologies of choice while best effort broadband access technologies such as FTTx, mobile (3G, LTE, 5G, APN) and satellite are made available in hard to reach areas where there is no dedicated infrastructure in place.
The aim of offering a managed last mile access solution to the market is to make secure, dedicated, high speed, reliable, cost-effective, and managed network connectivity available, placing Altron Nexus in a position to offer converged voice and data solutions on single or multiple links over a SD-WAN overlay. Enterprises prefer to procure implementation and management of network connectivity as a service instead of building and managing their own networks.
The important factors involved with network connectivity besides cost, include uptime, security, speed, scalability, and Quality of service.
The managed last mile access is a layer 1, layer 2 or layer 3 service providing a communication link between the customer’s site and the service providers’ network. It provides secure transport of data, voice, and video traffic. The physical layer 1 service is an enabler for logical networking which can take place on layer 2 through Virtual LANs to segregate voice and video traffic over a single physical last mile access link. It is also an enabler for Layer 3 routing of packets through the MPLS VPN or SD-WAN overlay services. Technologies such as Software-Defined Networking are applied to last mile access technologies to provide Software Defined Wide Area Networks.
Last mile access is popularly used to access the Internet, to provide site-to-site connectivity, Data centre interconnect, enable Data centre access, Voice, and Video over IP. High performance, large bandwidth and high speeds are required to access bandwidth intensive applications and to deliver real-time applications such as voice and video, which are sensitive to delay and jitter. During the design phase after analysing the network requirements, different factors are taken into consideration to deliver a high-quality grade service on the connectivity which is established over the last mile access. Emphasis is on High availability, response time, throughput, and reliability.
The Dedicated physical Last Mile Access is provisioned at the customer’s site and terminates on a building switch/CPE at the customer’s site. An additional Customer Premise Edge (CPE) device – Alton Nexus managed router will be installed at the customer site to deliver layer 3 services such as SD-WAN, configure QOS or simply provide visibility for monitoring and reporting purposes. The B-side of the last mile access terminates on a Core device in the nearest Point of Presence (POP) of the last mile service provider normally within a 5km radius depending on the technology and provider. The onsite CPE device is configured to logically pass all the data traffic over the last mile provider’s network to the Altron Nexus core device in the nearest Teraco POP.
Altron Nexus has Points of presence in the Teraco data centres: Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. Physical Cross connects exist between the Altron Nexus core devices and the last mile providers core devices; this is the point where the last mile providers handover all the customers last mile links, it is the termination point. Customers can connect nationally to any of our Point of Presence (POP) at the Teraco Data Centres where they will have the ability to connect to the internet through the central internet breakout. They will also have access to the Managed cloud PBX, voice breakout, or simply could access any other hosted services.
The last Mile access provides several benefits for the customer. The primary benefit for this is a dedicated converged network using one physical link per site and dual links where redundancy and high availability is required. Other benefits include the following:
- Low latency and the best routing options enabled through our partners’ POPs.
- Better, faster communications with a dedicated connection for faster transfer of business-critical data, enabling better communication with shared internet, voice, video, and shared software applications in real time
- Simple and highly secure, dedicated connection providing a high degree of transparency.
- Cost effective monthly pricing for the customer based on bandwidth and access type.
- Reliable and resilient backbone with our partners enables our clients to concentrate on their business with the peace of mind that the network is working.
- Single service provider to provide the customer with network connectivity.
- Management and Support is outsourced which give the customer cost savings on support staff.
Last Mile Access
Our last mile providers provide connectivity through their Microwave and Carrier Ethernet offerings. This enables Altron Nexus to provide a variety of dedicated technology options for last mile access to customers. No single last Mile provider has coverage in all areas over a specific technology and so there will be sites in remote and rural areas where no infrastructure exists. An initial proposal can be planed via the Groove map coverage check per service provider, but a feasibility study will have to be performed to determine the correct last-mile access type per site and whether other best effort options such as Broadband Wireless, FTTX, Satellite, 3G/LTE, and 5G in the future, can also be provided to the customer for backup connectivity.
Dedicated Ethernet and consistent services can be delivered over a variety of access architectures and service providers using equipment from multiple vendors and terminated on the Altron Nexus Core infrastructure at a 3 Teraco Data Cetners. A dedicated service provides symmetrical and uncontented bandwidth to the core network. Some of the dedicated Access Type technologies used include the following:
Broadband Internet services can also be used to provide primary or backup connectivity for customer branches. All broadband services include the last-mile link with access and bandwidth to the Internet only. The broadband service is highly contended, asymmetrical and not recommended as primary connectivity for customer sites. Some of the broadband Access Type technologies available are:
- FTTX (Home and Business)
- Fixed Mobile APN
- Mobile APN
- Wireless (WISP)
- Satellite (Starlink when available)
Ethernet over Fibre
For applications where it is available or where the bandwidth requirements dictate it, delivering Ethernet over optical fibre is an excellent choice. With virtually unlimited bandwidth support, noise immunity and the ability to traverse long distances, optical fibre can provide the performance for the applications of today and those envisioned for tomorrow.
One of the most common Ethernet over Fibre architectures is point-to-point, where the connection is from the Service Provider’s aggregation switch to a Network Interface Device (NID) located at the customer premises.
Active fibre deployments are an excellent choice for service providers when the customer is in an on-net building in a dense metropolitan area or in a new infrastructure build-out. Fibre optics as an access medium is also needed when Ethernet speeds are 1Gbps or higher.
Benefits of Active Ethernet
One major benefit of using fibre optic access technology is its ability to future-proof bandwidth and distance requirements. Fibre offers easy scalability to meet and adapt to the increasing customer needs, which results in customer satisfaction and service differentiation that enables profitability and customer retention. Beyond its bandwidth capacity, fibre also offers additional benefits such as being able to transmit over greater distances and its inherent immunity to noise and interference.
The CAPEX investment in fibre optic infrastructure is a one-time investment with minimal recurring operational cost. Fibre’s ability to service 100 Mbps, Gigabit and 10 Gigabit data rates as well as multiplex multiple channels using Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) enable it to support any foreseeable future data rates. The distances that can be supported by a fibre infrastructure are limited only by the active interface hardware. Using standard optics, 2 km-150 km distances can be easily achieved.
Where wireline services are not available or practical, delivering Ethernet over a point-to-point wireless access network can make a previously infeasible connection practical. In addition, where mobility is required, broadband wireless services from mobile service providers may provide an excellent connectivity option.