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Branch Connections

Chapter Description

Broadband solutions provide teleworkers with high-speed connection options to business locations and to the Internet. In this sample chapter from Connecting Networks v6 Companion Guide, identify branch connection options for small to medium-sized businesses, basic configuration for a PPPoE connection on a client router, and more.

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Remote-Access Connections (3.1)

In this section, you learn how to select broadband remote-access technologies to support business requirements.

Broadband Connections (3.1.1)

In this topic, you compare remote-access broadband connection options for small- to medium-sized businesses.

What Is a Cable System? (

Accessing the Internet through a cable network is a popular option that teleworkers use to access their enterprise network. The cable system uses a coaxial cable that carries radio frequency (RF) signals across the network. Coaxial cable is the primary medium used to build cable TV systems.

Visit this website to learn more about the history of cable:

Modern cable systems offer customers advanced telecommunications services, including high-speed Internet access, digital cable television, and residential telephone service. Cable operators typically deploy hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) networks to enable high-speed transmission of data to cable modems located in a small office/home office (SOHO).

The Data over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is the international standard for adding high-bandwidth data to an existing cable system.

Figure 3-1 shows an example of a cable system.

Figure 3-1

Figure 3-1 Cable System

The following describes the components shown in Figure 3-1:

  • Antenna site: The location of an antenna site is chosen for optimum reception of over-the-air, satellite, and sometimes point-to-point signals. The main receiving antennas and satellite dishes are located at the antenna site.

  • Transportation network: A transportation network links a remote antenna site to a headend or a remote headend to the distribution network. The transportation network can be microwave, coaxial, or fiber optic.

  • Headend: This is where signals are first received, processed, formatted, and then distributed downstream to the cable network. The headend facility is usually unmanned, under security fencing, and is similar to a telephone company central office (CO).

  • Amplifier: This is a device that regenerates an incoming signal to extend further through the network. Cable networks use various types of amplifiers in their transportation and distribution networks.

  • Subscriber drop: A subscriber drop connects the subscriber to the cable services. The subscriber drop is a connection between the feeder part of a distribution network and the subscriber terminal device (e.g., cable modem). The type of cable commonly used in a subscriber drop consists of radio grade (RG) series 6 (RG6) or series 59 (RG59) coaxial cable.

Cable Components (

Figure 3-2 shows an end-to-end cable topology.

Figure 3-2

Figure 3-2 End-to-End Data Propagation over Cable

The following describes the components shown in Figure 3-2:

  • Cable modem termination system (CMTS): A CMTS is a component that exchanges digital signals with cable modem on a cable network. A headend CMTS communicates with CMs that are located in subscriber homes.

  • Fiber: The trunk portion of the cable network is usually fiber-optic cable.

  • Node: Nodes convert optical signals to RF signals.

  • Distribution area: A distribution network segment (feeder segment) is from 500 to as many as 2000 subscribers.

  • Coaxial cable: Coaxial feeder cables originate from the node and carry RF signals to the subscribers.

  • Cable modem: A cable modem enables you to receive data at high speeds. Typically, the cable modem attaches to a standard Ethernet card in the computer.

A headend CMTS communicates with CMs located in subscriber homes. The headend is actually a router with databases for providing Internet services to cable subscribers. The architecture is relatively simple, using an HFC network. The HFC network is a mixed optical-coaxial network in which optical fiber replaces the lower bandwidth coaxial cable. The fiber carries the same broadband content for Internet connections, telephone service, and streaming video as the coaxial cable carries.

In a modern HFC network, typically 500 to 2000 active data subscribers are connected to a cable network segment, all sharing the upstream and downstream bandwidth. DOCSIS standards are used to specify how data is exchanged between cable modem and the headend. For instance, the DOCSIS 3.1 standard supports downstream bandwidths (that is, from the headend to the subscriber) up to 10 Gb/s and upstream bandwidths (that is, from the subscriber to the headend) of 1 Gb/s.

What Is DSL? (

A digital subscriber line (DSL) is a means of providing high-speed connections over installed copper wires. DSL is one of the key teleworker solutions available.

Figure 3-3 shows a representation of bandwidth space allocation on a copper wire for asymmetric DSL (ADSL). The area labeled POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) identifies the frequency range used by the voice-grade telephone service. The area labeled ADSL represents the frequency space used by the upstream and downstream DSL signals. The area that encompasses both the POTS area and the ADSL area represents the entire frequency range supported by the copper wire pair.

Figure 3-3

Figure 3-3 Asymmetric DSL in the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Another form of DSL technology is symmetric DSL (SDSL). All forms of DSL service are categorized as ADSL or SDSL, and there are several varieties of each type. ADSL provides higher downstream bandwidth to the user than upload bandwidth. SDSL provides the same capacity in both directions.

The different varieties of DSL provide different bandwidths, some with capabilities exceeding 40 Mb/s. The transfer rates are dependent on the actual length of the local loop, and the type and condition of the cabling. For satisfactory ADSL service, the loop must be less than 3.39 miles (5.46 km).

DSL Connections (

Service providers deploy DSL connections in the local loop. The connection is set up between a pair of modems on either end of a copper wire that extends between the customer premises equipment (CPE) and the DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM). A DSLAM is the device located at the CO of the provider; it concentrates connections from multiple DSL subscribers. A DSLAM is often built into an aggregation router.

Figure 3-4 shows the equipment needed to provide a DSL connection to a SOHO.

Figure 3-4

Figure 3-4 DSL Connections

The two important components in this topology are the DSL transceiver and the DSLAM:

  • DSL transceiver: Connects the computer of the teleworker to the DSL. Usually, the transceiver is a DSL modem connected to the computer using a USB or Ethernet cable. Typically, DSL transceivers are built into small routers with multiple switch ports suitable for home office use.

  • DSLAM: Located at the CO of the carrier, the DSLAM combines individual DSL connections from users into one high-capacity link to an ISP, and therefore, to the Internet.

A DSL micro filter (also known as a DSL filter) is required to connect devices such as phones or fax machines on the DSL network.

Figure 3-5 depicts modern DSL routers and broadband aggregation routers.

The advantage that DSL has over cable technology is that DSL is not a shared medium. Each user has a separate direct connection to the DSLAM. Adding users does not impede performance, unless the DSLAM Internet connection to the ISP, or the Internet, becomes saturated.

Figure 3-5

Figure 3-5 Example of DSL Routers

Wireless Connection (

Developments in broadband wireless technology are increasing wireless availability through three main technologies:

  • Municipal Wi-Fi

  • Cellular/mobile

  • Satellite Internet

The sections that follow describe these technologies in more detail.

Municipal Wi-Fi

Many municipal governments, often working with service providers, are deploying wireless networks. Some of these networks provide high-speed Internet access at no cost or for substantially less than the price of other broadband services. Other cities reserve their Wi-Fi networks for official use, providing police, firefighters, and city workers remote access to the Internet and municipal networks.

Most municipal wireless networks use a mesh of interconnected access points, as shown in Figure 3-6. Each access point is in range and can communicate with at least two other access points. The mesh blankets a particular area with radio signals.

Figure 3-6

Figure 3-6 Municipal Wireless Network


Mobile phones use radio waves to communicate through nearby cell towers. The mobile phone has a small radio antenna. The provider has a much larger antenna that sits at the top of a tower, as shown in Figure 3-7.

Figure 3-7

Figure 3-7 Cellular Tower

Three common terms are used when discussing cellular/mobile networks:

  • Wireless Internet: A general term for Internet services from a mobile phone or from any device that uses the same technology.

  • 2G/3G/4G wireless: Major changes to the mobile phone companies’ wireless networks through the evolution of the second, third, and fourth generations of wireless mobile technologies.

  • Long-Term Evolution (LTE): A newer and faster technology considered to be part of 4G technology.

Cellular/mobile broadband access consists of various standards such as 4G using LTE. A mobile phone subscription does not necessarily include a mobile broadband subscription. Cellular speeds continue to increase. For example, 4G LTE Category 10 supports up to 450 Mb/s download and 100 Mb/s upload.

Satellite Internet

Satellite Internet services are used in locations where land-based Internet access is not available or for temporary installations that are mobile. Internet access using satellites is available worldwide, including for providing Internet access to vessels at sea, airplanes in flight, and vehicles moving on land.

Figure 3-8 illustrates a two-way satellite system that provides Internet access to a home subscriber. Upload speeds are about one-tenth of the download speed. Download speeds range from 5 Mb/s to 25 Mb/s.

Figure 3-8

Figure 3-8 Two-Way Satellite Implementation

The primary installation requirement is for the antenna to have a clear view toward the equator, where most orbiting satellites are stationed. Trees and heavy rains can affect reception of the signals.

Select a Broadband Connection (3.1.2)

In this topic, you select an appropriate broadband connection for a given network requirement.

Comparing Broadband Solutions (

Each broadband solution has advantages and disadvantages. The ideal is to have a fiber-optic cable directly connected to the SOHO network. Some locations have only one option, such as cable or DSL. Some locations have only broadband wireless options for Internet connectivity.

If multiple broadband solutions are available, a cost-versus-benefit analysis should be performed to determine the best solution.

Some factors to consider in making a decision include

  • Cable: Bandwidth is shared by many users; upstream data rates are often slow during high-usage hours in areas with oversubscription.

  • DSL: Limited bandwidth is distance sensitive (in relation to the ISP’s central office); the upstream rate is proportionally quite small compared to the downstream rate.

  • Cellular/mobile: Coverage is often an issue, even within a SOHO where bandwidth is relatively limited.

  • Wi-Fi mesh: Most municipalities do not have a mesh network deployed; if it is available and the SOHO is in range, it is a viable option.

  • Satellite Internet: This option is expensive, has limited capacity per subscriber, but often provides access where no other access is possible.

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