Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Migrating From Business DSL to T1

Many small businesses get their first connection to the Internet through a business DSL service. For casual use, this may be all you ever need. But things get dicey when your business comes to depend on a reliable Internet connection or you add applications such as VoIP telephone, security video, teleconferencing, or VPN access for remote employees. When DSL limitations and downtime start costing you more than you pay for the service, it's time to re-evaluate.

A dedicated T1 Internet connection is the logical upgrade from business DSL. Yes, it does cost more. But the difference is shrinking all the time and when you look at value received and losses avoided, T1 service is clearly superior.

To understand the tradeoff, let's look at how each of the services work. DSL or Digital Subscriber Line is a technology that was developed to allow high speed data to share the same phone line that you use for regular voice calls. It's a consumer oriented service, although there are specific types of DSL sold to small business users. What's meant by consumer-oriented is that DSL is intended for casual usage, where monthly cost is far more important than bandwidth or reliability. Your DSL line and maybe a hundred others are all fed from a device called a DSLAM or Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer. In essence, you are all sharing the bandwidth from a faster or "backbone" connection to the Internet.

This is the Achilles Heel of DSL services, and Cable Internet also. You don't get a set amount of bandwidth. You get a maximum limit, usually described as "up to 385 Kbps" or similar wording. When there are few other users, you get your maximum bandwidth allotment. But when there are many users or some who are downloading large software files or videos, your speed will decrease noticeably.

Standard DSL service is also known as ADSL or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. The asymmetric part means that upload and download speeds are different. This was set up for Web browsing where you typically send small requests and the browser downloads large files. Other applications, such as VoIP telephone or security camera feeds have much larger upload requirements, which can easily clog DSL lines. Another DSL service known as SDSL or Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line is available for businesses, but it's more expensive than ADSL and the bandwidth is still shared.

DSL availability is also an issue. DSL is not regulated as a telecommunications service. Instead it is considered an information service which allows it to be more loosely regulated and offered as a "best effort" service. That means that phone companies intend to do their best to give you service, but downtime can be expected and you really have no recourse except to move to another service. If your screens go blank or your credit card machines can't authorize purchases and you start losing sales by the minute, it won't take long for that inexpensive DSL service to get really expensive.

Compare all this to what you get with a T1 line. T1 dedicated Internet service offers a symmetrical 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth that's "dedicated" to your business. The bandwidth doesn't change. It's available all the time for both uploads and downloads. That makes it a good choice for bandwidth hungry applications such as enterprise VoIP and video conferencing or security. T1 is a regulated telecommunications service that generally comes with a SLA or Service Level Agreement that specifies service availability and your remedies. As a regulated service, any occasional T1 outages get top priority at the carriers. T1 lines can also be "bonded" together to multiply your bandwidth by 2x, 3x, 4x or more as your needs grow.

T1 service is also almost universally available in the U.S. Not so with DSL. The technology used to share phone lines is only good out to a mile or two from the telephone company office. If you want broadband service out in the boonies, T1 is likely to be your answer.

But what about the costs? T1 used to be both rare and expensive. Now that many competitive carriers have entered the small to medium business market, line prices have plunged dramatically. You might easily pay $100 to $200 for business DSL, only to find that T1 service is available at the same location for less than twice that amount. In other areas, the cost is higher but still justifiable based on performance and availability.

What are the best bandwidth options for your business location? Find out quickly and easily with no obligation when you use our online T1 service GeoQuote(tm) price quoter. Give it a try. You'll likely be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter