Bonding Combines T1 Lines It's easy to combine T1 lines to multiply your WAN bandwidth
By: John Shepler
T1 lines have been popular with small and medium businesses for decades. They are highly reliable, private, dedicated bandwidth, and easy to come by. With fierce competition bringing down prices in recent years, what’s not to like? If only you could get T1 lines to run faster....
Bonding Combines Bandwidth
There’s a way to do that and still keep all the advantages of T1 line technology. The technique is called bonding. It’s an industry standard method of combining the bandwidth of multiple T1 lines so that they behave as a single much larger connection.
Increase Bandwidth In Increments
You can’t really hot-rod a single T1 line. The system was designed to be synchronized so that the line can be segmented into 24 separate telephone lines or multiplexed into higher bandwidth services. A T1 line runs at 1.5 Mbps and that’s that. What bonding does is let you bring in another T1 line and hook the two together for 3 Mbps.
Bandwidth demands are increasing. You know that every few years you need to upgrade the processing power and RAM in your PCs to keep running efficiently with upgraded browsers and other applications. Expect the same to be true of your WAN connections. Whether it’s file transfers from point to point between business locations, Internet access or a connection to cloud services, you’ll need higher bandwidth to stay competitive.
More Bonding, Higher Bandwidths
T1 lines can be combined in larger groups to give you even more bandwidth. Bonding 3 T1s provides 4.5 Mbps, 4 T1 lines offer 6 Mbps, 5 bonded lines equal 7.5 Mbps, 6 T1s provide 9 Mbps, 7 T1 lines offer 10.5 Mbps and 8 bonded T1 lines get you to 12 Mbps. Eight line bonding is about as high as most carriers go. The cost of bonded T1 is equal to the price of a single T1 times the number of lines used. When you get past 8 T1s it is generally cheaper to move up to DS3 or even fiber optic connections.
One Connection For Your Network
How do you connect all these T1 lines coming into your facility? Your service provider will take care of that. They supply a managed router with multiple WAN Interface Cards (WIC) that handled the interface to each T1 line. The router then does the bonding in tandem with carrier equipment on the other end and delivers a single bandwidth port (RJ45) running at the higher bonded speed.
You Need a Single Provider
This is important. For bonding to work, you need to get all of your T1 lines from a single provider. If you try to mix and match vendors, they have no way of coordinating line operation and you just wind up with Individual T1 lines. You can do load balancing with your own routers or buy a bandwidth aggregation appliance to combine unrelated lines, but this is not true bonded T1.
The Ethernet over Copper Option
Does any other service compete directly with bonded T1? Yes, Ethernet over Copper does something very similar. It bonds multiple twisted copper pair (up to 8 pair) to deliver a single bandwidth service from 2 Mbps to over 100 Mbps. The trick in delivering the higher bandwidths is a more sophisticated modulation scheme that is distance sensitive. The nearer you are to the central office, the higher the speed available. If available, you can probably get higher bandwidths and better prices than bonded T1 services. However, availability is generally limited to metropolitan areas at this time.
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