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Synchronous optical networking

Synchronous optical networking

(also SONET)

Synchronous optical networking definition

Synchronous optical networking (SONET) is a widely accepted standard for the conveyance of digital information across fiber-optic networks. Offering a swift, dependable, and efficient means of simultaneously transmitting numerous data streams, it employs time-division multiplexing (TDM) technology. SONET is frequently utilized by telecommunications companies and internet service providers (ISPs) to transport substantial volumes of data over extended distances.

See also: data transmission, network security protocols

Synchronous optical networking examples

  • OC-3: Operating at a speed of 155.52 Mbps, OC-3 is a popular choice for businesses requiring high-speed data connections.
  • OC-12: With a data transfer rate of 622.08 Mbps, OC-12 is often used by larger enterprises and ISPs for backbone connectivity.
  • OC-48: Operating at 2.488 Gbps, OC-48 is commonly used for high-capacity network backbones and data center connections.

Synchronous optical networking benefits and drawbacks


  • High capacity and scalability: SONET supports a wide range of data rates and can be easily scaled up to accommodate growing bandwidth demands.
  • Network reliability: SONET networks use ring topologies and automatic protection switching (APS) mechanisms to ensure rapid recovery from network faults.
  • Interoperability: SONET is a standardized protocol, enabling seamless interconnectivity between different equipment and service providers.


  • High costs: SONET’s reliance on specialized equipment and fiber-optic infrastructure can result in significant initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs.
  • Limited flexibility: SONET’s TDM-based approach may not be as efficient as newer, more flexible packet-based technologies like Ethernet or MPLS.

Using SONET with VPNs

SONET can be used in conjunction with VPN technologies like NordVPN to establish secure, high-speed connections between remote locations, ensuring data privacy and integrity while taking advantage of SONET’s high-speed capabilities.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security