Internet / WAN Circuit Install Guide: MPOE, Demarc, Site Readiness, LCON, and more

Before your ISP circuit is installed, you'll want to understand where the MPOE is, demarc considerations, and more that we'll run through in this blog post

isp internet wan circuit handoff
Matt Pinto

Nov 29, 2023


You’ve found an ISP that can service your location. You’ve diligently worked through the nitty-gritty of their technology to ensure their topology and bandwidth will support your enterprise business. You’ve even put on your legal hat and worked through the fine print of the contract terms and conditions to make sure there weren’t any red flags. And finally, you’ve signed off on the paperwork. Now, it’s time to pop the bubbly and celebrate, right? Not quite!

Before your new ISP delivers your chosen internet / WAN connectivity (maybe with a cute little bow) and hands it off to your existing network, there are a few technical points to explore. After all, we all want a seamless, fast installation with no hiccups. We’ve covered some of what to expect in your ISP’s installation in a previous article, but there are some extras to unpack, information to know, and decisions to make. This article will walk you through them.

General Questions to Ask Your Carrier (and Yourself)

Here’s some general information you should have on hand before you proceed with your installation. These are relatively standard across ISPs, but it helps to plan for the exact details and minimize confusion on the day of installation.

What (and Where Is) the Minimum Point of Entry (MPOE)?

Minimum point of entry is a common term in the telecommunications and network infrastructure industry. But what does it mean?

Your MPOE is the physical point at which the telecommunications service provider's wiring enters your building or facility. It’s also your “border,” or the point at which the provider’s responsibility ends and yours begins.

If you own the building, you may already know where the MPOE is and have the freedom to choose a spot that works best for your enterprise. If you’re not the owner of the property, especially if you are sharing tenant space, you may need to check with your property management company to locate and coordinate access to a logical MPOE if one doesn’t exist.  

If you don’t have a MPOE established or a location in mind, it’s time to work it out – before the technicians are on-site and waiting.

Where’s the Demarcation (Demarc)?

Hand in hand with the MPOE is the “demarc” – the logical point in a telecommunications network where the responsibility for the connection shifts. It’s the boundary between where the ISP’s responsibility ends and your responsibility for maintaining and managing the network begins. Usually, the demarcation will be at the point where the service provider's network connects to your network or premises and thus may overlap with the MPOE. Remember, however, that the MPOE is a physical location. The demarcation is the point in the infrastructure where the responsibility change occurs.

An extended demarcation point (extended demarc) is an extension of the traditional demarc-at-MPOE point, used to provide additional flexibility and convenience for customers managing their network connections. It allows customers to have more control over their internal network infrastructure while still maintaining a clear separation between their responsibility and that of the service provider. Extended demarcations are common in shared office spaces, to move the demarcation point from a common area where everyone’s services enter the building (the MPOE) to a location you can better monitor and control within your private office space.

Do You Have Right of Entry (ROE)?

Right of entry is exactly what you’d expect – the legal authority to be inside a property or building to conduct work, such as installing new telecommunications equipment and services. If the service provider has some form of installation in the MPOE, they likely have formal permission and documentation. Likely, but not certain – you need to specifically ask if they have ROE for the work you’re planning. And, of course, if they’re new to the site, there’s likely no ROE in place at all.

It may seem logical that implicit permission exists – after all, running any business without digital connections is no longer a viable business model, so the building powers must be expecting installations, right? Simply assuming that is a recipe for a delayed installation and future issues. Rather make sure ROE for your provider is in place and ready to go before the big day.

Who’s the Local Contact (LCON)?

In tandem with your ROE comes a local contact – someone aware of the pending installation and ready to assist with it. That doesn’t mean just making sure any old warm body is hanging around when the installer arrives. You need someone who is knowledgeable about the building and the intent of the work, and aware of the ROE and pending installation.

Your LCON also needs to be on-site during the installation, with ready access to the building’s MPOE and any other telecommunications closets that need to be accessed during the installation (or the means to coordinate it). They should be aware of the access provider engineering rep and be ready to make the installation as smooth as possible.

If you have a site survey scheduled, the LCON will be expected to meet with the access provider engineer and engage with their walk-through on what will be needed to complete the installation. They should, of course, be responsible enough to report back to you on progress and potential issues so these can be solved ahead of time. No one wants to be chasing down a bored building super trying to find closet keys. 

24-hour notice of access for tech deployment is the industry standard, so the LCON needs the authority to make that happen, too.

What Are the Site Requirements?

If the carrier is installing services to your building for the first time, there are a few things that they will need. The requirements will vary between providers and depend on the type of equipment required. However, almost any installation requires the following.

  • The telecom space to be safe, secure, and temperature-controlled for the team.

  • Installation space for the service provider’s equipment. Typically, installations are done on a plywood backboard, relay rack, or in-cabinet.

  • Access to power points for on-site equipment and installation equipment.

  • Grounding for the equipment.

If anything unusual is needed during your installation (perhaps permission to install the mount for a satellite connection, add cabinets or racks, or drill holes in a location, for example), this needs to be clarified and organized ahead of time.

Specific Questions the ISP Needs to Clarify

Those are the general items needed to ensure a smooth, simple installation process. Now, on to some specifics to discuss with your carrier. Service provider policies vary significantly, as does their customer service and communication skills. The processes and individual ISP uses vary according to your offering. A fiber-optic cable installation and a coaxial cable installation, for example, will not be the same. And these are common pain points that delay installations. 

Ironing Out the MPOE, demarcation, and Network Interface Device (NID)

The Network Interface Device, sometimes called a Network Termination Device (NTD), will be the specific equipment that sits at the demarcation boundary, connecting the ISP’s network to your network’s wiring and cabling. 

If the NID is to be installed in the MPOE, there are typically no extra issues. However, let’s circle back to extended demarcations. Demarcation extension is most used in multi-tenant buildings, where the MPOE is usually in a common, shared area, and you’d rather shift the demarcation point to your private suite or area which you can better control. You have a few options:

  • Customer Extended Demarcations: The service provider installs the NID/demarc in the MPOE. The customer then takes responsibility for all necessary steps to extend from the MPOE to their offices.

  • Service Provider Extended Demarcation: The service provider agrees to run cabling to the customer’s offices. If this is your preferred option, the service provider must be notified before contracting. It’s industry standard for this service to attract a non-recurring cost for the extra work, and service provider policies vary significantly.  

  • Hybrid Extended Demarcation: Some providers will allow the customer to run the cabling between the MPOE and their offices. You would need to evaluate the type of handoff required at the MPOE, and then run appropriate, compliant cabling. Once the cable is in place, the service provider will install their NID in your offices.

Managing the Provider Handoff

Service provider policies on handoffs are inconsistent and will need considerable clarity from their side, but here are a few basics. If anything is identified as a firm requirement for your ISP, be sure to review and agree on all details before you sign the contract. You don’t want to have an SLA breach before you even finish the installation.

What Type of Handoff Should I Request?

Before you decide on a handover type, there are three key things to know.

Firstly, what interface will your equipment support? Typically, customer-provided equipment (CPE) will be one of three types:

  • Copper / Electrical

  • Multimode Fiber (MMF)

  • Single Mode Fiber (SMF)

Determining what you must work with is key to a smooth installation. Not sure how to choose your CPE? We’re glad to help.

Next, what will the handoff distance between the demarcation (and NID) and your equipment be? Again, the safe, advisable differences vary by the CPE type:

  • Copper / Electrical: Maximum 300ft (91m)

  • Multimode Fiber: Maximum 1000ft (304m)

  • Single Mode Fiber: Maximum 16,404ft (5,000m)

Lastly, is there projected growth over the next 36 months? With copper and electrical, service providers vary significantly. Typical handoffs are 100Mbps and 1,000Mbps. Some providers allow both, while others work with 100Mbps only. For fiber, the standard implementations are 1Gbps and 10Gbps, with 25Gbps, 40Gbps, and 100Gbps offered as non-standard. If you’re hoping for a non-standard option or will need to upgrade shortly after installation and want to build for scalability, that needs to be clarified before contracting.

Your IP Addressing

The number and type of IP addresses you will need should also be clarified before the contract is signed, as there is a lot of ISP variety.

  • Private IPs typically have no cost associated, but the ISP may not offer routers and network elements capable of network address translations (NAT).

  • Public IPv6 address schemes are underutilized at present and are usually free or low-cost.

  • Public IPv4 is the most popular type of IP address scheme requested from service providers. They have a high cost of ownership, and ISPs tend to be critical, limiting the number of addresses they’ll allocate. If you’re in the market for a large block of IPv4 addresses (think more than a single /29m which means 5 usable addresses), make sure the ISP will work with this need.

With clarity on these key issues – and any snags you uncover properly ironed out before contracts and installation dates come into play – your ISP circuit handoff will be smoother, simpler, and more cost-effective. And what’s not to love about that?

One of the main goals of the Lightyear Telecom Operating System is to empower enterprise businesses by providing them with the data that will make the decision-making process for ISP selection easier. The Lightyear platform will help you organize the information you’ll need to review while navigating this often-complex process. There’s also a team of industry experts that are available to work with you, in real time, to answer any questions or assist with the process, so don’t hesitate to reach out today if you have any further questions.

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