DSL and Internet T1 Access

T1 Lines versus DSL Internet

DSL is one of the top two consumer broadband Internet access choices. Used by more than 50 million Americans, DSL has become a common technology that has been fully embraced by a satisfied marketplace. DSL has been so successful in fact that many businesses have turned to it for networked internet access for an entire office. This type of business service has been relegated to Local Exchange Carriers (LEC’s) like AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest for years.

So the question has become, what is better for business internet access, a DSL line or a T1? To answer this we will look at both services and compare.

DSL Internet Access for Business

DSL Internet for business uses the same technology that residential service utilizes. A digital line along with compression protocols is used to get faster throughput with uploads at around 384K and downloads all the way up to 6MB depending upon location. The business service suffers from distance in the same way residential access does, oftentimes filters and signal amplifiers can be used to help out in this regard. If the business is too far from the central Telco office however, service will be spotty and the number of users it can support will decrease, as will the throughput speeds. DSL is truly distance sensitive.

DSL Business Internet pricing is reasonable for what it offers. Ranging from around $40 per month all the way up to $300 dollars per month, this bandwidth is affordable and the hardware is inexpensive. The price increase includes an increase in bandwidth as well as total data throughput, so if your business plans on sending and receiving more than 40GB per month, the higher end services with guaranteed bandwidth are what you need.

A detractor from DSL service is that there is no guarantee of the speeds being offered. For example a 6M download typically runs at speeds of 2.5M or 3M often times slower. The maximum upload speed of 512K typically runs at 200K to 300K. Those speeds are normally fine for downloading but uploading can create serious issues. Most issues arise when you send large emails frequently, upload large files to internet sites, upload to a server or FTP server, have servers connecting locations, sharing information between locations, are hosting an email server, have a VPN, or any other activity that entails uploading large amounts of information. Most DSL providers will tell you that a single DSL business line shouldn’t support more than 20 people, although a more realistic number would be around 7-10. Even with 7 users, there will be slowdowns if everyone is transferring data at the same time.

Dedicated T1 Internet Service

T1s are 1.5M dedicated circuits used to transport digital voice and data signals from a business location. This service is ideal for companies that send and receive large amounts of information and can’t be at the mercy of bandwidth that fluctuates throughout the day. A T1 has 24 fixed channels of 64 kilobits or a total of 1.54M to send information over. T1s were used exclusively by phone companies to carry voice traffic until the huge increase in Internet traffic in the mid 1990’s.

Businesses can now get a full T1 that will provide 1.54 MB of connectivity with the flexibility to assign the available channels to voice or data. This is guaranteed throughput that can support up to 50 users comfortably.

From a technical standpoint a T1 is superior to DSL since it is more reliable and doesn’t have the spikes and dips that DSL service has throughout the day. T1’s also have a guaranteed 4 hour repair response, whereas DSL offers no committed repair times. Oftentimes users of DSL experience slow downs if they are near a residential area when school lets out. That’s because DSL is traditionally a residential product and all of the DSL users in a particular area are serviced off of the same internet connection in the central office of the LEC (AT&T, Verizon, Qwest). With a T1 there is no fluctuation in speed since the 24 channel circuit is brought directly into the office and is not a shared service.

From a pricing standpoint the T1 is not a great deal more expensive than DSL. Prices range from between $299 and $450 per month. Oftentimes businesses will offset the cost of the T1 service by integrating the T1 or adding some of their voice lines to the T1 to eliminate that invoice. For example 6 lines and DSL cost roughly $450-550 per month with AT&T. By putting those lines onto the T1 and making it dynamic, the cost would actually be less or the same every month as before but the internet is then delivered over the T1 instead of DSL.

The last big positive for T1 service is the equipment that carriers offer with the service. T1’s come with higher end routers like Adtran or Cisco. Most of the time carriers will provide the managed router as part of their service offering. Higher end routers are more reliable and less likely to fail than a DSL simple modem or low end Netopia or Linksys router. DSL equipment is normally a $25 to $75 device whereas T1 routers range from $250 all the way to $1500. T1’s are business grade and DSL is residential grade.

1.5M Internet T1’s start at $200 per month
3M Bonded Internet T1’s start at $334 per month
1.5M DSL from $30.00
3M DSL from $30.00
6M DSL from $30.00