Not that long ago, you had a couple of choices for dedicated Internet access. You could get a T1 line at 1.5 Mbps or move up to a T3 line (DS3 bandwidth) at 45 Mbps. There really wasn’t anything in-between. Shared bandwidth services offer a larger range of choices, but shared bandwidth means variable performance and assurance of availability. You also have to contend with asymmetrical speed, where download line speed is 10x the upload line speed.
Dedicated Internet access, like T1 and T3, offers symmetrical bandwidth that is the same for both upload and download, a fixed line speed that doesn’t vary, and high availability with a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The one issue is cost, especially when you need more than what a T1 line can provide but not the full capacity of a T3 line.
Sometimes you can get what’s called a fractional line service. The service provider installs a full capacity line, but rate limits your bandwidth. The result is referred to a fractional T3 or fractional DS3 service. It saves some money over the full service level but isn’t that great of a deal on a per Mbps cost basis.
A better option today is to order bonded line service to increase your bandwidth. Bonding is an industry standard for connecting multiple lines of the same type to combine their bandwidths. For instance, you can bond two T1 lines together and get 3 Mbps instead of 1.5 Mbps. The view from your router is one larger bandwidth service rather than juggling two separate lines. That bonding process takes place within the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) that is installed by the service provider.
Bonding is a great way to increase your bandwidth incrementally, but there are a couple of things to consider. First, you can’t just go out and buy a second T1 line from just anybody. You have to get your bonded lines from the same carrier. Remember that it is the service provider who does the bonding through equipment at both ends of the line.
Also, the cost goes up by the same increment as the bandwidth. In other words, two T1 lines cost twice as much as one T1 line. There is no economy of scale. That’s no big deal if you are happy with doubling your line speed and your cost versus have to pay 10x the price to move up to the next standard line speed increment of T3. However, this technique does get less attractive with the more lines that you bond in.
Yes, you can go beyond double bonded T1. Bond three T1 lines for 4.5 Mbps, four lines for 6 Mbps, 5 lines for 7.5 Mbps, 6 lines for 8 Mbps, 7 lines for 9.5 Mbps or 8 T1 lines to get 11 Mbps. By the time you get 8 T1 lines bonded, the cost may be approaching what you’d pay for 45 Mbps T3 and you’d have a lot higher line speed.
There is an alternate bonded line service that may give you more bandwidth for less money. This is Ethernet over Copper or EoC. Like bonded T1, EoC uses multiple wire pairs to transport the signal. Providers will bond 2, 4, 6 or 8 pair to increase the speed of Ethernet over Copper service. Unlike T1, EoC offers a much wider range of available bandwidth options. For the price of a T1 line, you can get 2 or 3 Mbps EoC. Other speed options include 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 Mbps. Cost per Mbps actually decreases as you order higher bandwidth levels.
The one limitation of Ethernet over Copper is availability. It is a newer service and not all central offices are equipped to provide this line service. Also, EoC is highly distance sensitive. You need to be close to your CO to get the highest speeds. Otherwise you may top out at 10 or 15 Mbps. That’s still about the best you can do with bonded T1 and for considerably less cost.
Are you looking for a rock solid connection to the Internet to support your business activities. If so, check availability and pricing for bonded T1 and EoC dedicated Internet access options.