A few years ago your options were limited. You probably started with a T1 line. This service is available everywhere and easily affordable. T1 lines offered plenty of bandwidth for most businesses when they were first made available decades ago. Today, 1.5 Mbps still works for very small companies but is very limiting for larger organizations or any business with high bandwidth demands.
The reason T1 is available to nearly every business location is that it is provided over standard twisted pair telco lines. These are the same wires that bring in multiline telephone service. Extra pairs in the bundle are available for T1 use.
This offers a growth path for many companies. There are often many unused copper pairs in the telecom cable. Those extra pairs can be pressed into service to bring in multiple T1 lines. A process called bonding combines the bandwidth of those lines into one larger pipe. Bonding 2 T1 lines gives you 3 Mbps, 4 lines are good for 6 Mbps and 8 lines boost that to 12 Mbps.
That’s about the best you can do with T1 service. If you need more bandwidth, your next best bet is DS3, another longstanding telecom service. It offers 45 Mbps. DS3 is fairly common in most business areas, but it no longer strictly a copper wireline service. Most of the distance between the central office and your location is covered by fiber optic lines. The DS3 rides on this fiber until it is terminated at your building. If suitable fiber is available, great. Otherwise you are out of luck.
A new technology has been developed to bridge the gap between T1 lines and dedicated fiber optic connections. It’s called Ethernet over Copper or EoC. This technology uses the same twisted pair copper telco wiring as T1, but supercharges the bandwidth. The way it does this is by using a more advanced digital modulation technique with special terminal equipment at both ends of the connection.
Ethernet over Copper has caught on so fast that it is now the preferred bandwidth solution for low to mid level line speeds. Entry level is typically 3 Mbps, twice the bandwidth of a T1 line for about the same monthly cost. Many companies are now moving to 10 Mbps EoC to support higher business bandwidth demands. The cost of 10 Mbps EoC is only a fraction of what you’d pay for 10 Mbps bonded T1.
An even bigger advantage of Ethernet over Copper is that it can support higher speeds than 10 Mbps. If 10 Mbps isn’t enough, you can often move up to 15 or 20 Mbps. Another desirable speed level is 45 Mbps. This is the same bandwidth as a DS3 connection but without any fiber needed to deliver the signal.
Two competitive carriers are now announcing even higher speed service levels using EoC technology. Integra Telecom has debuted 60 Mbps symmetrical Ethernet over Copper service. That’s 60 Mbps in both the upload and download directions. This service can be provided up to 2,500 feet from the central office that terminates the copper bundle. This is enough to reach over 400,000 businesses.
The technical tradeoff for speed is distance when you employ EoC technology. The higher the line speed, the closer you have to be to the CO and the termination equipment. T1 doesn’t have this distance limitation but is limited to 1.5 Mbps per T1 line.
XO Communications has upped the capability of Ethernet over Copper connections even further. Their newest level is 100 Mbps. This compares favorably with the 155 Mbps bandwidth of the lowest available SONET fiber optic speed, a commonly used fiber service.
Ethernet over Copper is now an established and widely available connectivity service with speeds ranging from 3 to 100 Mbps. It’s certainly a viable replacement for T1 or bonded T1 lines. It also makes sense for companies that need higher bandwidths but can’t wait for their buildings to be lit for fiber. In some cases, the 50 or 100 Mbps line speeds are all they really need and the upgrade to fiber can be delayed until sometime in the future.
Is your business bandwidth limited or do you have an interest in cutting costs on your monthly telecom expense? If so, you should get the latest competitive prices on Ethernet over Copper bandwidth services.