T1 | Metro-E | MPLS | PRI | VoIP

Are T-1s Irrelevant?

During the early 2000s every CLEC (that’s Competitive Local Exchange Carrier-everyone who is not your local phone company-to you non-telecom folks)was out pushing T1. It made sense at the time: dynamic T1s integrated all of your services together: local voice, data and long distance. This package was easier to manage, one bill, one point of contact, one service. The package was almost always less expensive than what the ILEC (that’s Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier-your local phone company-to you non telecom folks) could offer and, quite frankly, it was more exciting.

Dynamic allocation technology enabled companies to offer voice and data services together on the same pipe. When the voice wasn’t being used, the amount of bandwidth that supported your voice went right back to your data-so nothing was being wasted. And telecom people sold hard on that, not only was it less expensive, but it was much faster than your lousy asymmetrical DSL connection. Why, Mr. Customer, you’ll have a full 1.54 Mbps of data at all times. When 3.0 Mbps was rolled out it seemed like the solution was unstoppable. Customers were sold on cost and speed-and for a long time the future of T1 was assured.

T1 speeds today, however, are laughable. Try to sell someone 1.54 Mbps as a primary means of Internet access and they would rightfully laugh out loud. Back in the day, service was sold on speed-but more, on the future speeds, a future that would demand a company have the fastest Internet speeds it could justify into its budget. With the explosion of social media, wireless devices, cloud services and yes, an actual virtual marketplace, the speeds that seemed like rockets in the early 2000′s swiftly fell into the dust. Co-ax cable often gives 100 Mbps download for the same cost as a single T1, and even if it is shared bandwidth, at that level of service, you can afford to shave off 10Mbps or even 20Mbps. Metro Ethernet can grant speeds into the Gigs if need be, and while the days of free installations (that is, build-out cost, the true installation of service) are over, the clients that really need the service have it available to them. Even for a redundant connection, Co-ax or bonded DSL pairs offer a lot more speed at a fraction of the cost.

So-it seems like the days of the T1 are over. Or are they? No, not really. T1 may not be the best choice for Internet access, but it remains the most cost-effective and stable solution for voice. Co-ax, despite its coming of age in the Internet, remains a service that is far to spotty to trust to voice lines. Customers will understand Internet issues. But if your voice services are erratic it just looks bad-or sounds bad, as the case may be. Metro Ethernet Fiber doesn’t dynamically allocate for voice in the same way a T1 does. Depending on the company, ┬áthe equivalent of a full PRI (voice transport for customers with serious needs) can eat up to 5Mbps, a significant subtraction from over all bandwidth. It’s also an unnecessary subtraction as there is no cost benefit to accommodate ┬áthe loss of bandwidth. All things being equal, it costs the same to bring in voice on an independent T1. What’s more-customers who do this have a separate connection for their voice from their Internet pipe. Very often, the voice T1s are capable of their own little dynamically allocated Internet access.