SCTG fiber patch panel
SCTG fiber patch panel

SCTG is a carrier-neutral cloud and colocation provider. This means you can purchase network services directly from us, or lease circuits from the carriers of your choice. We’ll even help you extend carrier circuits between data centers — or make sure that none of your carriers are sharing the same underlying fiber (surprise!).

When you order a cross connect from SCTG, we handle the circuit installation from the carrier demarcation jack all the way to your cabinet (and in most cases, to your equipment).

But ordering a carrier cross connect in a data center should be easier than it is. Here are some insider tips to help you smooth out the process.

How a circuit order should work

This is how a circuit order should work if everything goes right:

  • You confirm with SCTG the carrier you would like to order a circuit from. Once confirmed, you are given the location specifics to provide to the carrier. If required, SCTG will extend carrier circuits between data centers in the same metro area, and even between data centers in other cities if needed. This allows you to use the carrier that best meets your needs.
  • You order the circuit from that carrier. The carrier processes your order and gives you an LOA (Letter of Authority) that shows the circuit number and where their physical demarcation is for the circuit (rack, panel, jack, and type).
  • You open an order with SCTG to extend that circuit out to your equipment, providing us a copy of that LOA. This is the cross connect.
  • We find and patch the circuit out to your cab (and optionally to your equipment), get link light, and viola!

But it almost never works like that. Years of experience have taught us the many pitfalls to watch out for when dealing with carriers.

How a circuit order should be delivered

From the carrier perspective, the work should proceed in this manner:

  • Confirm equipment and patch panel capacity at the location.
  • Build and test the services, and assign a circuit ID to your order.
  • Issue you an LOA.
  • Now that the cross connect is completed, test the service to make sure it meets your expectations.

Common problems with carrier circuit orders

Here are some of the pitfalls we run into when running carrier cross connects:

“The port that was assigned is already in use.”

What often happens during the cross connect installation, is that the assigned port or patch panel positions on the LOA are already in use. This means a previous connection has not been removed or something is cabled incorrectly.

We now have to ask you to request an updated LOA from your carrier. The carrier may dispatch a technician to double-check their equipment and patching to clear up the ports on the original LOA.

All of this can take days and delay your use of the circuit.

“The media type is incompatible.”

The next possible issue is the media type. Our recommended cross connect media is single-mode fiber. This is because the maximum distance for a standard Cat5/6 copper ethernet connection is 100 meters. In most large data centers, the building MMR is not always within that distance. Single-mode fiber cuts out the distance limitation and allows you to change from 1 Gb to 10 Gb to 100 Gb or more, simply by changing the optics in your equipment.

“For my circuit, the carrier says only RJ45 copper handoff is available.”

We do have a solution for this: SCTG can media-convert the carrier cross connect. We’ll take the copper handoff in the meet-me-room and convert it to fiber, then back to copper again (if you prefer) before handing it off to your cabinet. Because of the extra equipment involved, it’s more expensive, and there’s a slight reliability risk due to additional equipment in the path.

“The carrier indicated fiber but engineered it as copper.”

Sometimes the carrier will indicate fiber, but they engineer it as copper anyway. There may be more delays to get them to re-engineer it correctly, or we can media-convert the circuit for you.

“I ordered a 100-Mb circuit, and the carrier says it will be delivered as fiber.” 

Be sure to confirm the optic type with your carrier. We have found that some carriers will use an uncommon 100-Mb optic, while you are probably used to using a much more common 1-Gb optic in your equipment. When we extend the circuit, it never links. The 100-Mb optic will not talk to the 1-Gb optic.

If you’re ordering a 100-Mb circuit, request the carrier use a single-mode 1-Gb optic and rate-limit the port to 100 Mb. That way, you won’t have to try to get them to change their optic later or try to get compatible 100-Mb optics that will work in your equipment. As a bonus, if you ever upgrade the service, it only takes a few keystrokes for them to upgrade you to 1 Gb.

“The carrier gave me the LOA, swears it’s in and ready for the cross connect!”

And yet none of our technicians can locate the patch panel or jack as specified, even after requests for tag-and-locates. Once, we experienced a circuit turn-up that took 5 months to complete. After SCTG had visited and inspected almost every meet-me-room and demarcation point in the facility, it turned out that yes, the circuit was assigned to the correct cab, shelf, and demarcation jack — but the carrier had not yet physically built out that shelf. It was part of an expansion by their capacity engineering department, but they never told their sales staff that it didn’t exist yet.

“I had my Internet consultant place the order for our circuit, why can’t you extend it to us?”

We run into this on occasion when a third party is the one ordering circuits and no LOA is available. While we’ll try our best to locate it, letting us know things like which carrier and under whose name the circuit was ordered are critical to tracking it down. To complicate things further, some carriers don’t use their own equipment to deliver circuits, or sometimes deliver redundant circuits on other carriers’ equipment.

Extra care and communication must take place if a third party is involved in ordering your circuits. Things have to match on the LOA or it leads to confusion and delay. If the jack gets labeled under the third party’s name but we’re looking for your company’s name, we can’t be sure if we’re in the right place or not.

Tips for running carrier cross connects

Check with us before ordering your circuit.

We can help you confirm the carrier’s equipment location and give you extra information to help you place your order with the carrier. Better yet, check with us to see if we have a better and cheaper way of doing it. SCTG has many offerings, including Internet and private circuits, that can benefit you without making you deal with specific carriers. We can be a one-stop shop for your communications needs.

Always insist on single-mode fiber handoff from the carrier and be prepared to have your equipment accept that fiber handoff.

If media conversion must take place, the cross connect will be more expensive and potentially less reliable.

Place an order for your cross connect as soon as possible and provide the LOA from the carrier.

This gives us the circuit information and authority to attach the cross connect to the carrier demarc. With luck, we actually find the circuit where the carrier says it is.

Always add a week or two to your expected timeframe for using the circuit.

That’s just the nature of the beast. With some carriers, we do get things turned up early or on time. But with others, things get delayed with the hunt for the missing demarc jacks, wrong media, and tag-and-locate requests.

These are just some of the true pitfalls we run into while attempting to get a carrier circuit out to your equipment. Thankfully, SCTG is well-versed at recognizing and facilitating these issues. We really do smooth out most problems, as we have the experience and know what to expect. Our goal is to get your circuits up as quickly as possible.

Want advice? Contact us.

SCTG

111 W. Jackson Blvd #1600
Chicago, IL 60604

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