The traditional upgrade path works for many companies. That’s a move up from T1 speed to T3 speed. T1 lines run at 1.5 Mbps. T3 runs at 45 Mbps. It’s a substantial move up and carries a substantial premium, although T3 doesn’t cost nearly what it used to.
If you want more speed than 1.5 Mbps but don’t need to go as high as 45 Mbps, there are now options to get incremental bandwidths delivered over twisted pair copper. The two competing technologies are T1 line bonding and Ethernet over Copper (EoC). T1 line bonding simply combines the bandwidth of two or more T1 lines into a single faster line. Ethernet over Copper uses a different modulation technology to deliver higher speed services.
Let’s take a look at bonded T1. If you decide to bond two T1 lines, you double the bandwidth from 1.5 Mbps to 3 Mbps. To do this, you need to order bonded T1 service from a single provider. Having two different providers won’t work. Each T1 line will come in on 1 or 2 copper pairs in your telecom cable bundle. This cable runs from your building back to the incumbent telephone company’s central office. The ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier), as it is called, owns the copper in the ground. Once it gets to the CO, it can be connected to any number of competitive service providers.
Your selected bonded T1 service provider will have two T1 lines installed and run to their managed router, known as CPE or Customer Premises Equipment. It is here that the line bandwidth is combined. You have a single connection to the CPE that runs at 2x a single T1 line speed. How about the cost? It will be twice the cost of a single T1 line. There’s no real economy of scale with this approach. However, how much you pay for your T1 lines will depend on where you get them. This is where a bandwidth broker with access to a dozen or more carriers can get you the best pricing.
One nice feature of T1 lines is that they are almost universally available. You can get T1 and usually bonded T1 in the city, the suburbs or out in the countryside. Bonding T1 lines can be a lifesaver when there is no fiber for miles around. How much line speed can you get with line bonding? Double bonding for 3 Mbps is common. So is triple bonding for 4.5 Mbps and quad bonding for 6 Mbps. The practical limit to this process is somewhere around 10 or 12 Mbps, although in rare cases higher bandwidth have been achieved.
The other technology, Ethernet over Copper, offers a wider speed range and lower costs. The catch is that it is fairly new and not as widely available and trades distance for speed. Close to the CO, you can pretty much name your bandwidth between 2 and 45 Mbps. Miles away, you’ll have more limited choices.
EoC works somewhat similar to bonded T1 in that multiple twisted pair copper wires are used to transport the signals between the CO and your location. In fact, it uses the same telco wiring bundle that would otherwise be provisioned for T1 lines. Up to 8 copper pair can be bonded to create speeds of 10, 20, 30, or even 45 Mbps. Like T1, there is an upper limit to Ethernet over Copper, but EoC just starts picking up steam where bonded T1 tops out. In rare cases, EoC service at 100 and even 200 Mbps has been installed, but you almost need to be touching the central office for this to work.
How does EoC pricing compare with T1 and other traditional telecom services? You can generally get 2 or 3 Mbps EoC for the same price as 1.5 Mbps T1. If you want to go faster, 10 Mbps EoC can be had for about 3 times the price. Higher bandwidths can be had at a discount to what you pay for T3 lines on a per Mbps basis.
What if you need even more speed to run your business? This is the point where Ethernet over Fiber is the way to go if you can get it. EoF, as it is called, is a bargain compared to SONET fiber optic services. The available speeds range from 10 Mbps on up to 10 Gbps, with many increments in-between. Two particularly popular speeds are 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet and 1 Gbps Gigabit Ethernet or GigE. You’ll note that these speeds mirror the standard LAN speeds of 100 and 1000 Mbps.
Are you poking along at 1.5 Mbps but wishing you had more line speed? If so, check out Bonded T1 and Ethernet over Copper bandwidth services and prices for your business location.