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Comparing Metro Ethernet to T1 Bandwidth
For what you pay for a T1 line, you may be able to get twice the bandwidth from Metro Ethernet service.

By: John Shepler

Small and medium size businesses typically use T1 lines or multiple T1 lines to provide reliable broadband connectivity. But now there’s another option that you should consider for higher bandwidth at lower prices. That’s Metro Ethernet.

What is Metro Ethernet?
Metro Ethernet service is available in most metropolitan areas. Hence, the name “metro.” Also, like the name implies, this is a switched Ethernet protocol compatible with what you are running on your local area network. That makes it easy to connect from your network to your Metro Ethernet connection. You simply plug into the Ethernet jack from the service provider and you are connected to the wide area network. With T1 lines, you need a special interface card that contains the CSU/DSU circuitry to connect with that technology or a stand-alone T1 CSU/DSU with an RJ-45 network output.

Both T1 lines and Metro Ethernet services can be configured to provide point to point private lines between business locations. They can also be used as access network connections to the Internet. Both give you dedicated Internet access with assured bandwidth and availability.

Advantages of Metro Ethernet
In addition, Metro Ethernet can be set up as a multi-point service to connect several business locations on the same network. This can be a level 2 switched Ethernet service that ties your branch office and main office LANs together in one larger bridged network. You can create larger networks using T1 lines, but they are inherently connections from one location to another. You’ll have to build a star or mesh network yourself.

What about bandwidth? T1 lines are inherently fixed at 1.5 Mbps each. The way to get higher levels of bandwidth is to incrementally add more lines through a process called bonding. For instance, 2 T1 lines gives you 3 Mbps, 4 lines will provide 6 Mbps, 6 lines gives 9 Mbps, and so on.

Scalable Bandwidth
Ethernet services are also available in a variety of bandwidth options from 1 Mbps through 10 Gbps. Small and medium size businesses will typically opt for 3 to 10 Mbps options. An advantage of Ethernet is that it is scalable up to the fastest speed the connection will handle. You can start out with 3 Mbps bandwidth and upgrade to 10 Mbps or 20 Mbps, often with only a phone call to your provider.

T1 is a wireline service. It is based on two sets of twisted pair copper telco wires. That makes T1 available nearly everywhere you can get phone service. At the lower bandwidths, Ethernet is also provisioned over twisted pair copper wire. A different modulation scheme is used to gain higher bandwidths using multiple copper pair. You may be able to get up to 50 MbpsEthernet over Copper. The upper limit is distance sensitive, so the closer you are to a carrier’s nearest point of presence, the higher bandwidths you can get.

When fiber optic connections are available, the higher Ethernet bandwidths are readily available. Medium size businesses commonly use 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps connections, with larger corporations installing 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps fiber optic Ethernet services.

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