Reliable bandwidth solutions
between 1.5 and 45 Mbps.
By: John Shepler
The most common high reliability broadband connection
for business is the T1 line. T1 lines are available most everywhere,
are affordable for most small and medium businesses, and come
in a variety of options that include PBX telephone lines, dedicated
Internet access, point to point electronic data interchange and
a combination of voice and data called Integrated T1. The only
real problem with T1 service is that you might outgrow it.
T1 connections provide a bandwidth of 1.5
Mbps full duplex, also called symmetrical for Internet service.
You get 1.5 Mbps in both directions. You can get fractional T1
service if you don't need the full 1.5 Mbps. But what if you
Who Needs More Bandwidth Than T1?
T1 service is perfect for most point of sale, telephone system
and Internet access needs of small businesses and some medium
businesses. Larger bandwidths are needed when business volume
expands or the number of users grows beyond a dozen or two. Larger
bandwidths are also needed for throughput demanding applications
such as CAD drawing transfers, movie production, television program
distribution, medical data transmission and enterprise VoIP.
The next higher telecom standard is the
T3 line, also called DS3 service. T3 isn't three times the capacity
of T1, like you might suspect. Instead, it is 28 times the capacity
of a T1 line or 45 Mbps. The cost is substantially greater due
to the increased bandwidth and differences in the technology
needed to provision T3 lines. DS3 service is most often provided
over fiber optic cables versus common twisted pair copper wires
used for T1. In some cases, especially within a carrier's facility,
T3 can be provisioned over coaxial cable.
T3 has the bandwidth needed to support
many Internet service providers or off-site backup needs of corporations.
It is commonly used by colleges and school systems to provide
Internet access for faculty and students. A T3 line can transport
up to 672 simultaneous telephone calls or carry two channels
of HDTV television programming using MPEG-2 compression. That's
a substantial bandwidth, but what if you don't need or want to
pay for quite that much?
Bandwidth Between T1 and T3
When you need bandwidth between 1.5 Mbps and 45 Mbps, you need
fractional DS3. You can get fractional DS3 in just about any
bandwidth your application requires, including 5, 10, 15, 20,
25, 30, 35, 40 Mbps and other increments. Like other WAN bandwidth,
the monthly price you pay is based on the bandwidth you receive.
There are a couple of was to implement
fractional DS3 service. One is to run a coaxial T3 line or DS3
over fiber optic cable, but throttle the bandwidth down to a
fraction of the full DS3 limit of 45 Mbps. That works fine if
it is feasible to provision coaxial or fiber optic cable to your
building. Another option is to bond T1 lines together to gain
multiples of 1.5 Mbps, such as 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, or 9 Mbps. Each
T1 line requires a pair of copper telephone wires, but even remote
business locations often have bundled cables with many pairs
Another related service you should be aware
of is WAN Ethernet. You're familiar with Ethernet in your local
area network. Now it is commonly offered for connections beyond
your premises. Ethernet runs at 10 Mbps, which fits the definition
of fractional DS3 service. In practice Ethernet service may be
delivered over a TDM (time division multiplexing) line such as
T3, or on a native IP network which is Ethernet end to end.
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