Frame Relay is one of the most cost-effective types of data transmission available today. Frame Relay is a high speed packet switched transmission service that connects two (or more) fixed points across a private network. The physical connection for Frame Relay service is available in bandwidth anywhere from DS-0 to full DS-1 speeds.

There are two types of Frame Relay service:

1.  Un-Managed Frame Relay is a fairly basic service offering available from most carriers. The carrier providing Un-Managed Frame Relay service is only interested in the transport of the customer's data over their network.
2.  Managed Frame Relay is a much more robust offering from a carrier. The exact benefits of this service will vary from carrier to carrier, but it typically involves the carrier managing everything from the router out through the Frame Relay network. Detailed usage reporting and monitoring is usually delivered on a regular basis and available for analysis to adjust the Frame Relay service to maximum customer benefit. The rest of this section will define the physical architecture of Frame Relay service and detail exactly how this service is priced.

Frame Relay is more difficult to design and implement than standard Leased Lines because it consists of both physical and logical components. The physical components include the Frame Relay terminating hardware at the customer site, local distribution channels, and frame relay ports. The logical components are referred to as permanent virtual circuits (PVCs) and are constructed between each one of the physical sites.

Much like Leased Lines, the local telephone company is typically used to provide the access (Local Distribution Channel, or LDC) to the Frame Relay provider's Point of Presence (POP). An LDC is required for every physical connection to the Frame Relay network, and connects the customer premise to the closest carrier POP. With Frame Relay however, these LDC's are only available in bandwidth ranging from 56K (DS-0) to 1.544M (DS-1).

At the Frame Relay provider's POP, each LDC is physically connected to the Frame Relay network at the Frame Relay port. The size of the Frame Relay port is equal to the bandwidth of the LDC.

Permanent Virtual Circuits (PVCs) are the logical connections that allow the connected sites to transfer data to each other. Each logical connection is defined in the Frame Relay provider's network and in the terminating hardware. Because these connections are defined using software, companies may move and adjust PVCs in a matter of hours as opposed to the weeks that are necessary with traditional high-speed data services. Each PVC has a Committed Information Rate (CIR) that is the bandwidth associated to the logical connection; This bandwidth can only be equal to or less than the physical bandwidth of the LDC. The CIR is what defines the minimum data transmission throughput for each PVC. Frame Relay networks can transmit data across a PVC at a rate higher than the CIR when there is bandwidth available. This "Bandwidth-on-Demand" feature is limited by the LDC speed and the Frame Relay provider's network congestion.

The monthly cost of Frame Relay service is dependent upon a number of factors. The access to the Frame Relay provider's network is figured just like a Leased Line, in that the cost of an LDC is based primarily upon bandwidth and physical distance (mileage) from the long distance carrier's POP.

Each location connected to the Frame Relay network will incur charges for the Frame Relay Port and CIR; The costs for both of these components will increase with the bandwidth. There are also monthly charges associated with each PVC constructed for the network. Pricing for Frame Relay service varies upon the type of service and length of commitment (term) of contract with the carrier. Any portion of the circuit cost can vary from week-to-week, which is precisely why our quotes are only good for 30 days. We will always make available any current discount or promotion to give you the best prices available from each carrier at that time.