Remote Site Access and Connectivity via Wireline

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An alternate way to use a T1 to connect two ends together via IP is to obtain a pair of routers with T1 interfaces. You can purchase new ones, of course; but there is a very active after-market for devices such as this. (Search for Cisco 2600s on eBay, and make sure they have T1 WIC. This will allow direct connection to telco.) In this case, you'll be making a Layer-3 connection to the remote site, so the network numbers will be different on both ends. At the near end, you'll use an Ethernet interface for the router. At the far end, you will also use the router's Ethernet interface, but in that case (unlike your headquarters end) you'll use that router as the gateway. Add a static route to the configuration of your gateway router back at headquarters, as well as the far-end router, so that IP traffic will flow in both directions.

DSL connectivity

Fortunately, DSL circuits have become available at more and more locations, and hopefully your remote location is one of those. There are several ways to make use of DSL, mainly to be discussed later in this article. Suffice it to say that you can often obtain download speeds nearly that (or greater) than T1 speeds in many cases. If symmetrical upload/download speed is an option from the provider, order that option. If you can order multiple IP addresses with the DSL access, you may want to consider that as well; as you will see later in this article, that isn't really necessary.

Cable Modem

If the local cable TV company happens to provide service at your remote location, this can be a good option. Again, if there is an option for upload/download speed symmetry, order it. Multiple IP addresses may be an option; likely it isn't worth the extra expense.

Metro Ethernet

If your near end and far end both have access to metro Ethernet, this could be a great option. Metro Ethernet will provide you with a Layer-2 connection between ends -- just as if you had an Ethernet cable "running between" the two sites. This will facilitate much greater speeds than the other methods discussed, and you'll be able to do things like add remote backup file servers. The far end will have a lot more capability than was previously possible; this capability may very well allow you to justify the extra expense involved.

The way in which you gain access to the transmitter site (or any remote site for that matter) depends upon whether or not a LAN extension is in use (via a point-to-point data circuit, or metroethernet) or alternatively the public Internet is in use (DSL or cable modem). In the case of the LAN extension, you'll use either a remote desktop application, or VPN.

On the other hand, if you use the public Internet then you must deal with accessing multiple hosts and of course security issues that are necessitated by the public Internet. Earlier I mentioned the idea of getting multiple IP addresses from the service provider. Since public IP addresses are a finite commodity, your ISP is going to charge you for the privilege of having them. If you obtain (as an example) five IP addresses on your remote connection, you could simply place one device at each IP address. This simplifies the system in that, from your remote location, you'll simply open a browser, looking at that IP. Naturally the device in question will require credentials so that there is at least a modicum of security. The downside is that your network size is limited on the far end. All is well till you go to add the sixth device.

There are two other approaches to accessing your new remote network. First, you could use a router on the far end, and configure port forwarding, so that multiple devices on the LAN side of the network can all be accessed remotely; secondly, you could set up VPN access, with the same goal. The advantages to these methods is that you only need one IP address at the far end, and your LAN size (though not unlimited) is going to be larger than you're going to need in the foreseeable future. Let's take a look at both approaches.

- continued on page 3

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