Complete Guide to Point-To-Point Networks

Exploring Point-To-Point Networks

In telecommunications, a point-to-point connection is a communication link between two communication endpoints or nodes. An example is a telephone conversation where one phone is connected to another and only the other can hear what one person is talking about. This is in contrast to point-to-multipoint or broadcast connections, where many nodes can receive information sent from one node. Other examples of point-to-point communication links are leased lines and wireless relays.

The term computer network refers to wires or other connections that connect only two computers or circuits, as opposed to other network topologies such as buses and crossbar switches that can connect many communication devices and are used in computer architecture.

Point-to-point is sometimes abbreviated as P2P. This use of P2P is different from P2P, which means peer-to-peer in the context of file-sharing networks or other data-sharing protocols between peers. A point-to-point network is a private data connection that securely connects two or more locations for private data services. Point-to-point networks are closed network data transfer services that do not traverse the public Internet and are inherently secure without the need for data encryption.

Point-to-point connections are available at a variety of speeds, including point-to-point T1, point-to-point Ethernet, or point-to-point DS3. Point-to-point connections provide unmatched quality of service (QoS) because they follow the same direct network path each time, rather than a shared service (leased line). Point-to-point connections are used by businesses to provide reliable and secure point-to-point network data services for applications such as credit card processing, file sharing, data protection, point-to-point VoIP, and video conferencing. Point-to-point networks can also be configured so that voice, video, internet, and data services are sent together over the same point-to-point connection. Point-to-point connections are also known as leased lines or data lines.

When Is Point-to-Point the Right Choice?

Point-to-point connections are available at many service levels, but most commonly are high bandwidth (the amount of data that can be transferred in a particular time frame) and low latency. With point-to-point connections, packet loss is also minimized. This happens when a small unit of data or a “packet” does not reach its destination.

A point-to-point connection can provide these high levels of service because data is always transferred back and forth over a dedicated route in the same way. When businesses use the public internet, they can route or reroute data at different times and in different ways to reach their destination. With a point-to-point connection, data travels a predictable path, meeting customer expectations (and provider promises) for a high quality of service (QoS).

Point-to-point connections are valuable in a wide range of use cases. They’re most often used when establishing secure cloud or data center connections, facilitating large file transfers, protecting data in transit to a disaster recovery backup solution, providing users with secure WAN access, supporting glitch-free video streaming, or supporting applications where performance is imperative. Wave circuits are another high bandwidth WAN option that is often used in similar situations to P2P lines.

What to Consider Before Choosing Point-to-Point Service

Although point-to-point connections offer a range of benefits to businesses and organizations, they also require more of a commitment of time and resources than using public internet connectivity.

The user typically provides all the hardware needed to establish the connection and is responsible for troubleshooting the connection unless the provider needs to repair one end of the connection. The point-to-point connection service is provided by a service level agreement (SLA) but the customer agrees to participate in the fulfillment. For example, users are also responsible for traffic prioritization and queuing management, typically leaving network administrators with the knowledge and skills to classify and schedule network traffic by severity. The company’s ability to successfully perform these tasks helps ensure that high-priority data reaches where it is needed and ultimately achieves speed and reliability.

Potential users of point-to-point services need to consider costs. Over the past year or two, P2P prices have tended to fall as competition intensifies with other WAN connectivity options, including dark fiber and wavelength services. However, if you are building a multi-site network that is expected to grow over time, leased P2P lines may not be the cheapest option.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Point-to-Point Network?

Some of the benefits your business gets as a result of a P2P network include:

  • Increased Productivity– A point-to-point leased line network ensures that all your staff has access to important centralized files no matter where they’re working.
  • Speed– P2P usually uses leased lines so the speeds are guaranteed and make it easier to transfer large amounts of data between your sites.
  • Control & Monitor– By having all offices use the same connection, it becomes easier to monitor data usage across all sites. This helps to ensure that different requirements are met and exceeded.
  • Prioritization-Point-to-point leased lines allow you to prioritize certain types of data for faster and more reliable connections.
  • Improved Security-Using broadband or SDSLs can increase the risk of interception because data is transmitted over public networks. However, point-to-point allows you to use your private network, so you can transfer data safely and confidently. So, with this leased line solution, you don’t have to worry about cyber-attacks.

On the other hand, the drawbacks are:

  • Distance-Point-to-point networks are typically used only near each other (in line of sight). Geographically distant locations are usually more suitable for other options due to the higher price of P2P.
  • Restricted Connections-Point-to-point connections allow you to connect in only two locations. This can be a disadvantage for large companies that are expanding or already have multiple locations.
  • Vulnerability-If a node fails in a point-to-point network, the entire system will fail and will not be able to send or receive data. In other network configurations, you can send and receive data to and from other nodes in your system even if the node fails.

Choosing a Point-to-Point Service Provider 

Most major providers offer point-to-point connectivity options, such as dedicated internet access (DIA), Waves, and MPLS. Also, depending on the location of the facility, the provider that provides this service may be in your area. SLA, installation intervals, and customer experience vary by carrier, but the most important variable is who is near the A and Z locations with respect to the carrier to hire for the proposal. If you are interested in point-to-point connectivity, we can help based on your specifications. Contact us today and get your questions answered!