Ethernet over Copper Bandwidth Solutions
How Ethernet over Copper is directly challenging T1 lines as a bandwidth solution.
By: John Shepler
Low to moderate business bandwidth solutions have long been served by T1 lines and bonded T1 lines. Now Ethernet over Copper solutions are taking over this space by offering more bandwidth for less money.
The services we’re talking about range from 1 to 20 Mbps and may be either a private line from point to point or a dedicated connection to the Internet. Ethernet standards also make possible a private LAN service to interconnect multiple business locations.
About T1 Lines
The basic T1 line runs at 1.5 Mbps. It was originally developed by the telephone industry to transport multiple telephone calls between switching centers. A service called T1 PRI or ISDN PRI is still popular for providing up to 23 digital phone lines to a business PBX system using only a single T1 line.
How is T1 Used?
As a digital line, T1 can transport voice, video or data packets. This has led to T1 lines being used to interconnect two company locations with a private line. Some companies expand this by building a network out of T1 lines linking each branch office back to headquarters.
Affordable and Available
T1 lines have had the advantage of being both affordable and available. Average prices have dropped from over $600 a month just a few years ago to under $300 a month today. T1 lines are provisioned over ordinary twisted pair copper using the same copper bundles that bring in multi-line phone service. As such, T1 service is available just about everywhere you can get a telephone line.
Ethernet's Cost Advantage
Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is a direct competitor to T1 for a couple of reasons. First of all, EoC uses the very same twisted pair copper wires that are already installed into nearly every business location. The cost for basic Ethernet over Copper service is very similar to T1 lines, except that you get 2 or 3 Mbps rather than 1.5 Mbps for that price. This gives EoC a cost advantage for companies that could use a boost in bandwidth but don’t have extra money in the budget.
More Bandwidth From EoC
Both T1 and EoC can increase the bandwidth they deliver by employing more copper pairs to transport the signal. T1 uses a process called bonding to make two or more T1 lines behave as one larger data pipe. Ethernet over Copper is designed to be easily scalable from 1 to 20 Mbps. Some of the most popular bandwidths are 3 Mbps, 5 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 15 Mbps and 20 Mbps.
EoC vs T1, Advantages and Disadvantages
Both technologies have limitations. Bonded T1 lines start to become impractical above about 12 Mbps. The technology to go higher isn’t widely deployed and the cost goes up linearly with bandwidth. Ethernet tends to get cheaper per Mbps the more bandwidth you order and can easily support 15 and 20Mbps levels, in some cases higher. Unlike T1, Ethernet over Copper is distance limited so that you can generally only get service in metropolitan areas. The closer to the nearest telco central office you are, the more bandwidth you can get.
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