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Ethernet over Copper

What is Ethernet over Copper?

Ethernet over Copper (otherwise known as EoC) service offers businesses in the United States a symmetric broadband connections to the internet, and/or to a carrier backbone network, at speeds ranging from 2.0 Mbps to 75 Mbps. Unlike T1 service that is available practically everywhere, Ethernet over copper service has variable reach. The closer a customer is to the carrier’s central office (CO), the faster the connection capability / broadband speeds.


Ethernet over copper runs over the coppers pairs that every building has installed by the ILEC in the area, otherwise known as ‘the phone company’. These copper strands conduct electricity very well, but degrade as a function of distance. You will find EoC service in many areas across the country, typically your more populated zones. Suppliers typically invest in new EoC equipment where they can get the maximum return, which means they invest first in areas of high population density. But, over the years, suppliers have expanded EoC service out to the suburbs in search of new subscribers at reduced margins.


The primary difference between EoC and EoF is the potential for bandwidth. Electrons are the means by which information is communicated over a copper wire, and electrons mean current, and current means magnetic field. All all these act like a un-greased wheel on a car, creating electronic friction that gradually degrades the signal each foot it travels down the wire. Fiber, on the other hand, is a tube of glass that conducts light, as in photons. Light can be transmitted almost an unlimited distance at virtually the speed of light. This allows a LOT of information to travel a LONG way. The only limitation on fiber transmission is the speed at which the routers and switches that transmit and receive this information can process the information.

So, why isn’t everything connected by fiber?  Well, there is no doubt that Fiber optic transmission is important to future and present network architecture. Many companies have already made the investment to deploy fiber into their WAN networks. However, the cold hard reality is that total “fiber miles” in the U.S. is still significantly lower than “copper miles”. This trend will continue for many years, as it will cost billions of dollars, paid for by both suppliers and private investment, for fiber to reach the point of ubiquity with the copper network.