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Business Phone Plus Broadband Options
Comparing options for smaller businesses to save money by combing their telephone and Internet service on a single digital line.

By: John Shepler

Small and medium size businesses have a need for both broadband Internet access and business telephone service. Years ago, the answer was easy. Order a broadband service from an Internet Service Provider and then go visit the telephone company and order your business phone lines. These are still viable options, but today you have much more to choose from.

Needs Of The Smaller Business
Most smaller businesses have limited bandwidth requirements, a fairly small collection of phones and very limited budgets. What often makes the most sense is a bundled service that includes both telephone and broadband service from the same provider. There are two primary bundled services that both offer a cost savings compared to buying your phone and Internet service separately.

Integrated T1 and SIP Options
The first is the integrated product known as Integrated T1 service or SIP Trunking. They both use the same technique of line sharing but differ in the connection method. Depending on your location, you may get a T1 line or an Ethernet line service.

How Integrated Service Works
Integrated services are based on the principal that one incoming line is cheaper than two. Unlike consumer broadband phone services that combine voice and data packets willy-nilly, Integrated T1 and SIP trunks use integrated access devices at each end to keep the voice and data separate. Both give priority to voice packets. When someone picks up a phone or answers a ringing line, the bandwidth to support that phone call is reserved for the duration of the call. When the phone hangs up, that bandwidth is released to the pool.

Everything Not Used Into The Bandwidth Pool
What’s is the bandwidth pool? That’s what’s used for your broadband Internet service. Let’s say you have an integrated T1 lines and no phones are in use. The full line bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps is used for broadband access. If nobody is using the Internet, say in the middle of the night, that line just runs idle.

More Phones In Use, More Bandwidth Reserved
The flip side of the coin is when you have a dozen phones in use. Those consume half the bandwidth of the T1 line. Your broadband speed sags to 750 Kbps, which can be no trouble at all for smaller companies using the Internet for credit card verification, email, Web browsing and online ordering.

How Voice Quality Is Maintained
SIP trunking works like Integrated T1 in that both manage the line bandwidth and prioritize telephone calls over Internet access. That way your phone quality is maintained and the variations in broadband bandwidth may not even be noticeable. If they are, you are simply trying to do to much with too small a service. T1 lines can be bonded and Ethernet based SIP Trunks offer a wide range of bandwidths to speed things up.

Works With Analog, Key or PBX Phone Systems
You might think that SIP trunking implies a VoIP phone system. Actually, you can configure the handoff to your internal phones to be analog, SIP based VoIP or ISDN PRI for a PBX telephone system. Similar handoff options are available for Integrated T1 lines.

Bundled Cable Broadband & Telephone Options
A competitor to the integrated services of Integrated T1 and SIP trunking is Cable broadband. The Cable systems is organized differently, with everything assigned to channels. That’s because TV stations have always had assigned channels. Now there are channels on the Cable system that carry stations that have no over the air presence. Other channels can be assigned to carry broadband Internet or telephone calls.

It's All About The Channels
The channelization of cable maintains the separation of voice, data and video so that they don’t interfere. You can order telephone and business broadband from your Cable provider. You can also include TV if you have the type of business with a public waiting room, like a auto service center or doctor’s office.

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