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,  the 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  the 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.

Why Hosted VoIP makes sense for Small Business

There are several reasons why Hosted VOIP phone systems make sense for small to medium size business (and really, for all businesses). In today’s somewhat unfortunate economic climate, companies are more concerned than ever about their operational and capital expenses. Many organizations would rather hold on to the phone systems they have than invest in new ones and thus hold onto phone equipment well past the times when said equipment is old and outdated.

This is counter intuitive in today’s day and age when technology and access to that technology plays an ever more vital role in a company’s success or failure. One could reasonably argue that a failure to take proper consideration of technology’s impact on business could have rather serious ramifications for that company’s future. Fortunately, there is another counter intuitive consideration for today’s businessman: namely, that purchasing new equipment (in this case, Hosted PBX or Hosted VOIP depending on who is using what buzz-word) can save on both operational and capital expenses. How can this be? Well, a simple outline of the features and benefits depicts the case rather well:

1) Efficiency: Ease of use is key. Hosted PBX is easier to manage than a traditional PBX. Instead of having to call in or call up your PBX vendor, hoping you can get ahold of him and then paying him an exorbitant hourly fee to make changes to your PBX (like moving a line to a new user, etc.) you can access your user portal and make the changes from there. This has dramatic implications-for once, you can operated and control your phone system personally instead of having it be some strange and poorly understood piece of equipment in your office. Efficiency is one of the keys to saving money long term-the less time you have to spend monkeying around with your phones, the more time you can actually work inside of core competencies and make money for yourself and your company.

2) Scalability: How long term is the solution? This goes back to the whole question of  buying the Hosted PBX equipment to begin with. How often does a phone system go out of date? How often does technology become obsolete? All the time. The actual duration is probably up for debate among the experts, but common sense should tell you that it happens often. Is this a source of concern or headache? Well, a concern to be sure, but it doesn’t have to make you lose sleep as long as you have the right solution in place-in other words, make sure whatever technology you have is changeable for the future. In this instance, Hosted PBX is scalable for future growth and needs. The old days of completely replacing your system will fall away as your hosted PBX instead becomes a preferred system that can upgrade as needed.

3) Costs: Circling back to the main issues at hand (the purchase of new equipment and why it is necessary), there can be no doubt that some capital expense is involved in a migration to Hosted PBX from a traditional telephony scenario. However, one should absolutely consider the long term effect this has on business. A relatively small upfront cost of new equipment can have vast impact on operational expenses and result in long term cost savings and growth of business.