T3 and DS3 are often considered to be identical. They’re not, but they are very close technically. T3 refers to a specific T-carrier system created by Bell Labs. It can transport 45 Mbps of data in both directions (full duplex) or 672 telephone conversations. Do you have a T1 line now? It is part of the same T-carrier system. A T3 line can carry 28 T1 lines, to give you an idea about how much bandwidth 45 Mbps represents.
DS3 is the digital signal that rides on a T3 line. It is the specification that describes how you get all those telephone calls or T1 lines worth of data into that particular format of data stream. In other words, a physical T3 line transports a DS3 formatted digital signal. Sounds almost redundant until you learn that there are other ways to transport that DS3 signal. Most important is using a compatible fiber optic SONET connection. OC3, the lowest level of SONET fiber service generally available, runs at 156 Mbps and can transport three independent DS3 signals. A service provider might drop off one at your locations and another down the block. Or you might order an OC3 and break out the 3 streams yourself if you need that much bandwidth.
How, exactly, you get DS3 service to your PBX phone system or network router depends on what service providers in your area are offering. In dense metropolitan locations you may be able to get DS3 service via fixed wireless microwave connection, as well as fiber optic cable and perhaps coaxial copper wire. You’ll connect from the carrier’s termination to your DS3 router using a pair of copper coaxial jumper cables.
The fact that there are different delivery mechanisms for DS3 is one key to being able to reduce your telecom line expense. Not too long ago, the local telephone company was the only one offering this service. Now there are competitive carriers, each with their own fiber or wireless networks, who aggressively pursue high bandwidth customers. That has tended to drop the cost of DS3 service dramatically in recent years.
If you don’t specifically need DS3, but only the bandwidth level that DS3 can provide, there is another option you should seriously consider. That is metro or carrier Ethernet. At the 45 Mbps level, Ethernet may be delivered to your location by either fiber optic line or bundled copper pair. The copper solution only works within a short distance of the carrier’s nearest point of presence. But not everyone needs the full 45 Mbps. If your requirement is, say, 20 Mbps, then you may be able to get EoC or Ethernet over Copper over a wider area than is available for 45 Mbps service. You’ll also pay less, since Ethernet is priced per Mbps.
Ethernet is also a good choice for companies that have an immediate and anticipated need for more than 45 Mbps. It is a scalable service, so you can get 50 Mbps now and upgrade to 100 or 200 Mbps later without a major effort. Ethernet at these levels is delivered by fiber optic cabling. Fiber support an almost unlimited bandwidth capacity. Ethernet services are readily available at 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1,000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet and 10 GigE.
Does your organization have a need for increased bandwidth or would you like to check competitive prices before you commit to a new contract? Our Telarus consultants will be happy to get you a listing of bandwidths and pricing for DS3, Ethernet and other bandwidth services available for your location. As a bandwidth broker, Telarus works with dozens of carriers and can get you more competitive pricing than you could hope to get on your own. Best of all, this is a complementary service for all serious business applications.