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T1 to Ethernet Migration Made Easy

If you are running out of bandwidth on your T1 line, you'll find Ethernet over Copper or Fiber attractive.

By: John Shepler

A lot of companies that have depended on T1 lines for years, even decades, are getting to the point where the available bandwidth just isn’t enough anymore. What’s the logical upgrade? Right now what makes the sense for most businesses is Ethernet. Fortunately, the upgrade path is easy and cost effective.

Don’t Write Off T1 Yet
T1 isn’t done, by any means. T1 lines are so entrenched in telco infrastructure that they are almost universally available. This is one of the big draws of T1. It was designed by the telephone industry to serve the telephone industry. When computer communications came along, T1 lines were adapted to connect machine to machine. With 1.5 Mbps bi-directional capacity, T1 has ruled small and even medium business connections. Unfortunately, 1.5 Mbps is barely broadband anymore.

So, do you have to dump your trusty T1 line to get more bandwidth? Actually, no, but it might be advantageous.

Bonding for Higher Bandwidth
You may not realize it, but it is possible to at least double or triple your T1 bandwidth right now. The way you do this is to order additional T1 lines from the same vendor and have them bonded into one larger line service. Bonded T1 ranges from 3 to 12 Mbps. That’s still plenty for many applications. As long as you have additional unused copper telephone pairs coming into your facility, you can likely get more bandwidth.

So, why not just do this upgrade and leave well enough alone? In some cases, this is exactly the right move. Out in the countryside, T1 is often the only professional grade bandwidth available. However, there is a price to be paid. That is, 2x T1 lines cost twice as much as one. Eight T1 lines cost 8 times what you pay now for a single line. That can be more than many budgets can handle.

More Bandwidth For Less Money
Most business locations are within the city or suburbs and have another interesting option. It’s called Ethernet over Copper or EoC. This is the simple upgrade path from T1 because it uses the same twisted copper pair that bring in your T1 lines. Like bonded T1, EoC uses multiple wire pairs to increase bandwidth. The difference is that Ethernet over Copper may be able to give you a LOT more bandwidth.

The basis of EoC is a newer modulation scheme that is more efficient in transporting packets over copper wires. Common bandwidth levels start at 3 Mbps and go up from there. How much higher? Popular choices are 10 to 12 Mbps, 15, 20 and even 50 Mbps in some areas. The hitch is that EoC technology is dependent on distance from the telco office. Distance doesn’t matter much to T1. But, then again, you won’t be getting 20 or 50 Mbps out of bonded T1.

The cost structure is also different. Ethernet over Copper can give you at least twice the bandwidth for the same money. In other words, 3 Mbps EoC costs about the same as 1.5 Mbps T1. As you increase bandwidth, the cost differences are dramatic. You may be able to get 10 Mbps EoC for just a fraction of what bonded T1 would cost.

When 100 Mbps or More is Needed
It used to be that higher bandwidths, including DS3 at 45 Mbps and OC3 at 155 Mbps, were expensive and hard to get. Now DS3 has come down in price so that it is affordable by many smaller and medium size companies. A newer service, Ethernet over Fiber (EoF), starts at 10 Mbps and goes up to at least 10 Gbps capability.

You read that right. The same fiber line can bring you anywhere from an entry level service of 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet, and 10,000 Mbps 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Even 100 Gbps is available in some metro areas.

Where It’s All Going
Fiber is the future. Eventually, all that copper in the ground will be recycled or be left to eventually corrode away. That’s not today, as Ethernet over Copper has given all those old telco lines a new lease on life. However, many businesses are discovering that Ethernet fiber is also both available and quite reasonably priced. They can have EoF installed with a 100 Mbps port and start off paying for only 10 Mbps. A simple phone call to the provider can then speed up the line to 50 or 100 Mbps. Install a Gigabit Ethernet port to begin with and you can get any speed from to 10 Mbps to 1000 Mbps without making any equipment changes.

Are you ready to migrate from T1 to Ethernet to get more bandwidth at a better price? If so, quickly check your copper and fiber Ethernet options now.

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