What's the story with T1 line prices lately? How T1 lines have become cheap enough for nearly any business
By: John Shepler
Over the years, most companies have come to own T1 lines either sooner or later. Larger companies got them for dedicated Internet connections back when business was just getting acquainted with the Internet. Small operations often get into T1 lines after becoming frustrated with shared bandwidth information services, such as DSL and Cable. There’s only one thing not to like about T1 lines and that’s the cost... or is it?
Those High Prices Are Yesterday's News
If you think that T1 lines cost a small fortune, you probably remember getting a quote some time ago. Yes, less than a decade ago it wasn’t uncommon to pay a thousand dollars a month for a typical T1 line. I say typical because there are different flavors of T1 service and pricing has been very location dependent. Today, you might pay about a third of that or less in most locations nationwide.
Where Have Cost Reductions Come From?
Costs have plunged due to maturity of the service, deregulation that has opened the market to many more competitive carriers, and new technologies that now compete directly for your bandwidth dollar.
Now's The Time For T1
It’s never been a better time to get into T1 line service if it will meet your needs. Let’s take a look at how T1 lines work, what you can use them for, and how to decide if T1 or something else is the right service for your company.
What is T1 Service?
T1 is one of the most mature telco technologies, developed by the Bell System for telephone trunking. T1 formed the basis of digital telephone service and later was pressed into service to transport data also. A half-century of experience means that T1 is well understood, almost universally available and well supported. As a tariffed telecom service, carriers take T1 seriously. Most are sold with an SLA or Service Level Agreement that spells out what you can expect in the way of availability, time to respond to an outage and mean time to repair.
T1 over Copper
T1 lines were designed to be provisioned on two pair of ordinary telephone wire. One pair is for transmit or upload. The other is for receive or download. This is a symmetrical bandwidth service. You get the same bandwidth in both directions and it is full duplex. You can transmit and receive at the same time. That was designed-in to support telephone conversations that are also full duplex.
The original use for T1 lines was telephone trunking. A trunk line supports multiple phone conversations. A T1 telephone line supports up to 24 separate conversations, each with its own synchronized channel. Think of these as individual business phone lines. A device called a channel bank can convert the 24 channels back and forth to 24 analog phone lines.
ISDN PRI for Telephone
A more popular configuration of T1 telephone line is called ISDN PRI or T1 PRI. This also divides the T1 line into 24 channels but only 23 of them are used as phone lines. The last one is reserved for switching signals and data, such as Caller ID. ISDN PRI is very popular as a telephone trunk line that plugs directly into many PBX phone systems.
T1 Data Lines
When used to transport data, the idea of channels is dispensed with and the entire payload of the line service is used to carry data packets. T1 has a payload of 1.536 Mbps. The actual line speed itself is 1.544 Mbps. The difference of 8 Kbps is overhead used to keep the line synchronized and for maintenance. A T1 line is typically said to provide 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth.
Dedicated Internet Access
That bandwidth can be used to connect to the Internet in what is called DIA or Dedicated Internet Access. Dedicated means that you have exclusive use of the bandwidth at all times. Use as little or as much of it as you need. The remainder will still be available and not shared by other users.
Point to Point T1
T1 lines are also popular as point to point connections to link two business locations. A specialized use is to transmit digitized audio from radio station studios to rurally located transmitter sites. T1 is also the most popular backhaul technology that connects cellular wireless towers to telephone switching systems.
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