I have been asked to connect a building to our network that isn't currently connected. While this building, albeit a small one, is a stone's throw from two other buildings, the decision was made when the fibre backbone was installed between the building to not include this building because it was due to be torn down in the near future. That was several years ago and before my time but the building still exists.

I have now been asked by a department head to provide costs estimates for connecting the building to the network. After consulting the drawings for the fibre backbone, there is conduit running to the building but only phone lines were run to the building. Only a couple of people are expected to be in this building at any given time. What will be the best option for connecting this building to the network?-- Via the Internet

Keep in mind when looking into the different cost options that the best option may not be the cheapest. Since you already have conduit running to the building, that could help save some significant costs on connecting the building. The first thing to check will be to find out how much space is available in the conduit. Hopefully since just phone line is in the conduit, there may be sufficient space remaining to put a couple of pairs of fibre. While the temptation might be to pull just the pair you need, having a spare pair for use later on could be real life saver. You shouldn't have to pay that much more for pulling an extra pair of fibre, most of the cost should be in the labour for the pulling and for termination of the fibre.

To further save some money, see if you can run the fibre from this building to one of your existing buildings that have fibre connectivity and connect there to s pare pair of fibre so you don't have to run a fibre connection all the way back to your computer room or wherever your fibre terminates for the other buildings.

If the cost of fibre will be more than management is willing to pay, take a look at the phone lines you have installed to the building. If the wiring seems to be in good shape, you might be able to consider some equipment that will let you run IP on top of the wiring already in place. Depending on the vendor you choose for the hardware, you will run some type of xDSL service. Depending on the length of the copper that you will be running this over and the condition it is in, you might be able to get speeds anywhere from 1Mbit/s to upwards of 30Mbit/s. The actual speed will be governed by the equipment you choose and the copper you are running it over.

I found equipment of this type available from Blackbox where you were looking at costs of US$600 to $3000, depending on the speed of the connection and distance over which the connection will be made. There are other companies that provide this equipment as well.

You don't mention whether or not that you have wireless deployed on your network but that could be an option as well. You will need to have line of sight between the building you want to connect and the building you will be feeding the wireless signal from. If you can close the distance enough, you might be able to use a patch antenna at each end. If you will be some distance, a more directional antenna will be needed. The more directional antenna will mean more costs in some cases. Keep the antenna as close to the access point/wireless bridge as possible to minimise the signal degradation. Even with this being a point to point link, I would strongly encourage you to look at using encryption on this connection to minimise drive by use of your network.

My first choice would be to use fibre but the amount of money that management may be willing to spend may not give you this as an option. As you can see, there is more than one way to do this. Look into all the options I have discussed here and at least one if not more may be good options to pursue.