For the most part, there is no reason that a business in rural America need be deprived of broadband Internet access any more than they are deprived of multi-line telephone service. In fact, the same copper pair that transport telephone calls are also used to bring in broadband service.
Now, it’s true that low cost business DSL services are largely unavailable much beyond city limits. That’s because DSL is a distance limited technology. It’s very fast near the telephone company central office and drops off in speed as line length increases. Beyond a few miles there just isn’t anything left.
That problem doesn’t plague T1 lines. T1 service also uses twisted copper pair, usually in the same bundle with lines providing telephone service to business and residential users. But T1 was designed as a long-haul service to begin with. It is the foundation technology that telephone companies used to transform their office to office connections from analog to digital. Yes, the high frequency signals used by T1 do degrade with distance. But unlike DSL, T1 signals can be regenerated every mile or so to make them good as new.
If your business is located out in the sticks, you should still be able to get T1 service. T1 lines can bring in as many as 24 telephone calls for your PBX telephone system. They can provide a private point to point connection between multiple business locations. Or they can carry broadband Internet service at 1.5 Mbps for both upload and download. Note that T1 service is symmetrical. The upload and download speeds are the same. That’s almost never true with consumer broadband or many business DSL services.
While 1.5 Mbps is more than adequate for many small businesses, what if you need more? That’s also possible through a process called bonding. Bonding T1 lines together combines their bandwidth. For instance, with 2 T1 lines you get 2x the bandwidth or 3 Mbps. With 3 lines it moves up to 4.5 Mbps. Bonding 4 T1 lines gives you 6 Mbps, and so on. The practical limit to this is somewhere around 10 to 12 Mbps.
You should also be aware that Ethernet broadband services may be available in your area. Ethernet over DS1 or EoDS1 basically turns T1 lines into Ethernet transport lines. It’s not a universally available service at this time, but there might be cost or performance advantages if you can get it.
How much does all of this cost? Much less than ever before and perhaps a lot less than you’ve been thinking. There’s a good way to find out for sure. Get quotes for T1 and Ethernet broadband now. You may be surprised at your options.