Alternative routing is the process of information transported to a destination via a differentiating medium such as fiber optic cable.
How Alternative Routing Works
Alternative routing broken into two subsets are called last-mile circuit protection and long-haul network diversity. Both provide secondary pathways for information to travel. Last-mile circuit protection allows for short distance or "local" paths to have a secondary loop. In contrast, long-haul network diversity provides for the availability of a secondary pathway over distances. However, in both instances, the primary and secondary pathways information travel on must be made of separate materials.
Example of Alternative Routing
An example of alternative routing would be if an internet company decided to buy a new region from an older internet company going out of business. The older company primarily serviced rural areas where the geography was mainly mountains and rivers. This company only offered dial-up services.
The new internet company decided to expand services offered to the customers in the newly acquired region. To do this, the company would need to invest a significant amount of money in building a secondary pathway for the required cables. The company laid down new fiber optic cables across the region and to each existing customer's house. Because the company did this, there were now two paths for the internet to reach its customers: the dial-up pathway and the fiber optic pathway.
Significance of Alternative Routing
Alternative routing is essential for many reasons. If you rely only on one pathway for information to travel, the traffic on each network rises. As more people log online, companies need to find creative solutions to carry the bandwidth required to support the heavy traffic.
In addition to continuing to make advancements in the technology available, companies must account for the industry's ever-changing demands. Companies can lower instances of outages, lag, and gaps in service by implementing alternative routing and using two or more pathways for information to travel. It leads to a more robust business model and a better product for consumers.
Alternative Routing vs. Diverse Routing
Alternative and diverse routing are two very similar concepts in that both types of routing provide secondary pathways of information. However, diverse routing consists of many paths, all consisting of the type of material and accomplished through a split or duplicate cables.
Alternative routing is beneficial because you can protect against uninterrupted service in the event of a cable failure, as there is a unique secondary pathway for that information to follow. However, diverse routing is seen as a superior method because it protects users against two types of failures: a failure of the cable but also against the failure of your local exchange at large. It happens because while you may have a split cable allowing information to travel two separate paths, they both often end at the same place, usually the provider or local exchange facility. By having diverse routing, you can pull from two locations, allowing a user to bypass a more significant system's failure.