T1 lines have become popular because they are so readily available and have offered the right bandwidth for smaller companies and specialized uses by larger companies. A T1 line is rated at 1.5 Mbps in both the upload and download directions.
The other line service in the same T-Carrier family is T3 rated at 45 Mbps in both the up and down directions. At one time T3 was delivered over microwave and coaxial cable or waveguide, but that is rare to find now. Instead, the digital service the T3 delivers, DS3, is widely available over SONET fiber optic service. It is transported over a standard SONET service, OC-3, which can carry three DS3 services multiplexed onto the OC-3 fiber. DS3 is then demultiplexed and dropped off at the demarcation point through a standard DS3 interface. That interface is two small diameter coaxial copper cables with BNC connectors.
This works for a lot of companies. If you happen to be in a metropolitan area where metro fiber is readily available, it’s not hard to get provisioned for DS3 service. If you can make good use of 45 Mbps bandwidth and can afford it, DS3 is a fast and reliable telecom service. The question is what to do if you don’t need 45 Mbps, the budget isn’t there, but 1.5 Mbps is really cramping your style.
There are a couple of traditional approaches that can help you out here. One is to move up incrementally from T1 service. The other is to order a fractional DS3 service. It’s DS3 that’s throttled back do deliver less bandwidth at a lower cost.
You may be wondering how you scale up from T1 since DS3 is the next step up in the digital hierarchy. The answer is to combine the bandwidth of multiple T1 lines in a bonding process. You can order a second T1 line and have it bonded to the one you have to get 3 Mbps instead of 1.5 Mbps. Later on, you can add more lines and gradually work your way up to 10 or 12 Mbps. That’s pretty much the practical limit of T1 line bonding.
There are a couple of advantages to this approach. First, you don’t have to make a big bandwidth or cost commitment because you are moving up incrementally. This is the way a lot of businesses grow so it’s a good match. Second, your T1 service is provisioned over twisted pair telco wiring that’s likely already in place for multi-line telephone service. The added T1 lines use vacant pairs in the binder group, the bundle of wires that runs from your location back to the telco central office.
Why is that important? Because it eliminates big construction costs which you may not be able to avoid if you have new fiber optic service installed. If no DS3 is available, you may be stuck with copper or forced to pay a large construction bill. Even if DS3 is an option, fractional DS3 service may not save you that much money over a full DS3 service. The cost savings is not proportional to the bandwidth reduction.
Is there a good solution for this dilemma? Oh, yes. There is now. It’s a fairly new service called Ethernet over Copper or EoC. Like T1, EoC is provisioned over twisted pair telco wiring that is already installed. Like fractional DS3, you can get bandwidths far above what T1 lines offer. Unlike either bonded T1 or DS3 and fractional DS3, EoC has a very attractive per-Mbps pricing.
2x2 Mbps and 3x3 Mbps are very popular Ethernet over Copper services for smaller businesses. The 2x2 means 2 Mbps upload and 2 Mbps download. It’s also called 2 Mbps EoC. The 3 Mbps bandwidth level works similarly. What you might not know is that you can get 2 or 3 Mbps EoC for the same price as a 1.5 Mbps T1 line. Exactly how much you can get for T1 price levels depends on how competitive the carriers are in your location. Either way, it’s more bandwidth for the same money.
The other interesting feature of Ethernet over Copper is that you can easily get 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and perhaps even 45 Mbps delivered over copper and not fiber. Pricing per Mbps beats T1 and DS3 and can be as little as half the monthly cost. The limiting factor is distance from the CO. Ethernet over Copper technology is distance limited and not readily available more than a mile or two from the central office. Still, that covers a majority of business locations nationwide.
Are you stymied by the lack of bandwidth options or the costs involved in trying to connect via T1 or DS3? If so, check out Ethernet over Copper prices and availability for your particular business locations. You may be surprised by how much you can get for your bandwidth dollar.