Securing the Base

Verisign Masters of Internet Infrastructure

Thinking about securing that access layer, I am put in mind of the many folks I speak with during Nemertes’ research benchmarks who have single points of failure in their connectivity at the physical level: they may have redundant connections in the form of separate strands of fiber or copper coming from different providers, but often those connections enter the building in the same place, maybe share not just a building-to-street conduit but also the same conduit to the same point of presence. Getting around that—getting well separated physical pathways, routing through different substations or local PoPs or what have you—can greatly increase the cost of a connection. This always brings me to wireless technologies. When I was last shopping for a redundant connectivity solution, a few years back, to hook together two campuses as a back-up for fiber running under an oft-torn-up intersection—the SONET ring was just to o expensive!—I was looking at everything from microwave to free-space optics. These days, the options (and prices) are better. AT&T recently announced the launch of their own LTE (high-speed wireless data) service in select cities, following the lead of Verizon's LTE network, Sprint's WiMAX solution and T-Mobile's speed-equivalent HSPA+ network. While the carriers' 4G coverage can't yet match that of their 3G services, AT&T's announcement indicates that all 4 major U.S. cell carriers are now delivering on their 4G roadmaps. Independent testers of AT&T's service are reporting speeds equivalent to fast wireline Internet access technologies: 23.6 Mbps averages with 61.1 Mbps peak throughput. As new devices and usage ramp up, we expect speeds to settle to the claimed 5 - 12 Mbps, a trend we saw with Verizon's LTE network as it gained traction. Even so, for many an organization that is more than enough bandwidth to serve as a temporary replacement to a damaged primary. For example, an average-sized branch office uses only 8.5 Mbps of bandwidth, a number that falls squarely between the 5 - 12 Mbps offered by LTE. I don’t expect to spend a lot of time discussing this level of Internet infrastructure availability and security, but it is vital that it be in IT’s thinking and planning.

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