The services we’re talking about range from 1 to 20 Mbps and may be either a private line from point to point or a dedicated connection to the Internet. Ethernet standards also make possible a private LAN service to interconnect multiple business locations.
The basic T1 line runs at 1.5 Mbps. It was originally developed by the telephone industry to transport multiple telephone calls between switching centers. A service called T1 PRI or ISDN PRI is still popular for providing up to 23 digital phone lines to a business PBX system using only a single T1 line.
As a digital line, T1 can transport voice, video or data packets. This has led to T1 lines being used to interconnect two company locations with a private line. Some companies expand this by building a network out of T1 lines linking each branch office back to headquarters.
T1 lines have had the advantage of being both affordable and available. Average prices have dropped from over $600 a month just a few years ago to under $300 a month today. T1 lines are provisioned over ordinary twisted pair copper using the same copper bundles that bring in multi-line phone service. As such, T1 service is available just about everywhere you can get a telephone line.
Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is a direct competitor to T1 for a couple of reasons. First of all, EoC uses the very same twisted pair copper wires that are already installed into nearly every business location. The cost for basic Ethernet over Copper service is very similar to T1 lines, except that you get 2 or 3 Mbps rather than 1.5 Mbps for that price. This gives EoC a cost advantage for companies that could use a boost in bandwidth but don’t have extra money in the budget.
Both T1 and EoC can increase the bandwidth they deliver by employing more copper pairs to transport the signal. T1 uses a process called bonding to make two or more T1 lines behave as one larger data pipe. Ethernet over Copper is designed to be easily scalable from 1 to 20 Mbps. Some of the most popular bandwidths are 3 Mbps, 5 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 15 Mbps and 20 Mbps.
Both technologies have limitations. Bonded T1 lines start to become impractical above about 12 Mbps. The technology to go higher isn’t widely deployed and the cost goes up linearly with bandwidth. Ethernet tends to get cheaper per Mbps the more bandwidth you order and can easily support 15 and 20 Mbps levels, in some cases higher. Unlike T1, Ethernet over Copper is distance limited so that you can generally only get service in metropolitan areas. The closer to the nearest telco central office you are, the more bandwidth you can get.
Are you in a quandary over how to maximize your telecom budget dollar? If so or if you’re just curious about getting more Mbps for your money, compare Ethernet over Copper with T1 line service prices and see which makes the most sense for your business applications.