Well, that seems to be it for reviewing all the T1 Line ISP's. For the month of May it looks like we've just about completed all of our T1 Line provider reviews. Rather than limit ourselves to just T1 Line reviews, we realize companies who purchase T1 Line service often have additional network needs that can be related, such as Colocation service, and Metro Ethernet or other broadband provider services. Therefore, we will be looking into reviews for additional types of connectivity services, mainly services such as Telco Collocation services as well as Metro Ethernet services. We also plan to tempt to give our review of Internet Backbone and Tier One bandwidth providers.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Working out of Grand Rapids, MI, US Signal is a relatively new carrier that has been in business for only 20 years. Currently managed by president Barry Raterink and maintained by around 100 employees, US Signal operates on a small regional network yet offers a robust variety of services.
US Signal offers standard network services, private lines, specialize in wholesale data and fiber products, offer collocation services all while operating on a CISCO network. Their collocation facilities are complemented by their ability to connect offices across metro networks only where there is coverage with their collocation equipment.
US Signal has 60 on/off sites throughout the Midwest as their site mentions that they own and maintain 2,500 miles of existing lit long haul and metro fiber serving 14 markets in the regions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. This guarantees solid access to the Midwest region and those close by. US Signal are able to provide lit service or dark fiber leases.
US Signal has one of the strongest SLAs in the business that promises the following: 30 days on provisioning (have been able to install some circuit types in 5 days), 99.99% On/Off network availability, 4 hours maximum time to restore service, 99.99% data delivery commitment, latency of less than 55ms, max packet loss of 0.05%, however they do have scheduled downtime.
The company specializes in IP services (point-to-point, MPLS, T1 Ethernet, etc.). Since US Signal specializes in wholesale customers, they are able to offer QOS enhanced service level agreements that allow them to offer four distinct classes of data performance making it ideal for VOIP customers.
As another one of the many regional domestic networks, it’s not surprising that they offer competent customer service. Technical support is quick to respond and competent. Quality is not an issue with smaller companies. You can argue that there is less to maintain compared to bigger providers, or that it’s stressed to stand out of the crowd of larger companies, but whatever the case, they will deliver to the customer, backed by their SLA. US Signal is relatively new, so you can bet that they are going to work harder for your business.
The Good: Accurate billing, high quality variety of services, strong SLA, offer online payments, competent & quick tech support
The Bad: Smaller network, as they are a regional domestic network.
The Bottom Line: Though they operate on a small network, US Signal is a dedicated provider that does not disappoint with its quality and range of services. A customer’s business is important to US Signal. They treat you well.
Tel West Communications, LLC.& Tel West Network Services is a facilities-based IP services provider that specializes in dedicated circuits for enterprise businesses. Their main headquarters is located in Seattle, Washington and are currently led by CEO Stephen L. Schilling.
Tel West offers basic converged services such as T1 lines, but also specialize in voice service and data bundles.
Tel West operates on a limited domestic level, with a network presence spanning 10 major metropolitan areas including, Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Olympia, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, and Corpus Christi.
Tel WestThe SLA is strong. For a small company, they know that they have to keep their performance up to stand out. They have to.
The network itself is small, so it’s not great if you have a company that sprawls nationally, let alone worldwide. US Signal is facilities based which might lower cost and make it easier to connect to other telecommunications carriers in a neutral environment. Voice service and data are sold, usually in bundles. Being a local exchange carrier they are able to give customers competitive long distance pricing.
They have a live NOC staff with prompt reply from customer service. Billing is made as clear as possible, so you have one less thing to worry about. Their website allows online billing for your convenience.
The Good: prompt customer support and live NOC staff, good billing servicelocal exchange carrier they have competitive long distance pricing
The Bad: Small regional company. They are limited to providing a domestic network for companies, as opposed to larger a worldwide network that can link you to overseas offices.
The Bottom Line: If you live in the areas that offer Tel West, then it’s worth checking out. Network is limited, but has the benefits that only a small company can offer like top-notch quality control and very competitive pricing.
Sprint Fiber Optics Network (FON) is the IP services branch of parent company Sprint Nextel. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Sprint has been in existence for more than a century and has had an international presence for more than 25 years running. The whole company is currently lead by Paul Saleh and is staffed by 60,000+ employees.
Sprint offers businesses a huge variety of IP services that usually tap directly into the nearest node which include: T1, DSL, OC lines, private lines, network services, virtual LAN services, and due to their merger with Nextel also offer various data and voice services.
Domestically, they have one of the largest networks only being smaller in comparison to companies such as Verizon and MCI. Their network backbone operates on speeds up to OC48 and OC192. Sprint also has a worldwide presence in regions such as European, Asian Pacific, South American, and availability in more than a 100 other countries.
Sprint has a solid SLA that they typically do not violate. It promises in the event they fail to meet their 95%+ On/Off Network availability, they will issue appropriate credit. They also promise 4hrs to restore service, 30-45 days on provisioning, 99.9% data delivery, latency of less than 55ms, and at least 0.3% packet loss.
They have a 1:1 subscription, thus no oversubscription making it a reliable network. Their T1 lines are clear channel lines; none of which are burstable, either. They are not quite as good as Verizon MCI because their network is smaller, so they don’t have as much peering available.
They are also good when supporting other ISPs so they can be relied upon on a wholesale level to provide good bandwidth. In fact, they support wholesalers. The network isn’t international, but it’s a very good domestic one. Sprint provides headache-free billing with a reliable service. Service quality may not be coordinated at all times, but once the service is up and running, customers should find little to no problems on the most part. This is a solid domestic choice.
The Good: Solid network, good 24/7 tech support with knowledgeable techs, good customer service, good billing service, no hidden fees they are up front about everything
The Bad: Expensive costs for services
The Bottom Line: An overall great choice for services as they have a solid network and good support however it all comes bundled at high prices.
Verizon Communications, Inc. was formed in 2000 when Bell Atlantic merged with GTE, formerly the largest independent local exchange telephone company in the United States. In 2005, Verizon acquired MCI, formerly WorldCom, after SBC Communications agreed to acquire AT&T Corp. Based in New York, Verizon boasts about 240,000 employees (2006) under CEO/Chairman Ivan Seidenberg and President/Vice-Chariman Dennis Strigl.
Verizon offer a variety of communication services: Broadband Internet services, television service, local wireline and wireless telecommunication services. Their land line services include POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) as well as VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and optical fiber line services. Verizon also offers a product in a joint venture with Microsoft called “Verizon Web Calling”, a VoIP service used within Windows Live messenger. Their optical fiber lines provide video service with hundreds of channels, including 20 high-definition channels. Verizon also provides DIRECTV.
For a T1 line, or similar dedicated access services, Verizon signs their customers to a minimum three (3) year contract term or service extension to meet the requirement for those with less than 36 months remaining. Their Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) is at a threshold of 4 hours for any downtime that may occur during their guaranteed 99.9% network availability (NA). If the MTTR for an interruption exceeds four (4) hours, then “Verizon will provide a credit of fifty percent (50%) of the monthly recurring charge for any individual Local TLS UNI that is unavailable for use for more than four (4) consecutive hours during the calendar month.” “If Network Availability across any Local TLS UNI in a customer’s Local TLS network less than the threshold of 99.90% for a calendar month Verizon will provide a credit equal to ten percent (10%) of the associated monthly recurring charge for the UNI that did not meet the threshold during that calendar month.” (Verizon SLA)
The company claims 62 million customers nationwide, but broadband connections are only a bit over 7.5 million. As for the network, you may find it pretty difficult to find any direct information on their websites. There’s a reason for that; the network is simply bad, and Verizon Sales Representatives are never straightforward as to what they are trying to sell you. Are they selling you a well priced T1, but it’s really a Frame Relay T1? Or are you going to get a T1 that runs over MCI’s IP network? This is where things can get sneaky with Verizon. Verizon Business (old MCI/UUnet) is seperate from Verizon Data (Verizon's Network) and the pricing is completely different when they sell the same thing.
Verizon is virtually a monopoly because of all of their major acquisitions. They very possibly own 80% of the entire Internet and virtually own or control all terrestrial circuits in the US.
Make sure you ask a lot of questions when getting Verizon T1, though. If you get it from their MCI division, the Internet will be the best; period. MCI used to be UUNet so although the network is aging, it is still among the best you will get. If Verizon sells you their own access from their Genuity network, the ping will be fantastic, but the rest leaves room to be desired. If they sell you service from their own Verizon network, which is pretty much Frame Relay, you’ll be very upset. Simply put, you have to order a T1 from MCI for it to be any good. If you buy Verizon, find out if it’s Genuity or Verizon’s own Frame relay (no CIR) because you should do all you can to avoid the Frame Relay network. Unknowing customers are told they’ll receive a T1 line in a 3 year contract with an amazing price, but may get stuck w/ a pseudo T1 line.
The best thing to do is to go to MCI.com and call MCI to get top notch T1 there. There is no better provider of T1 service than MCI (now part of Verizon). Here’s a downer, though: MCI is VERY expensive. That’s the reason Verizon doesn’t sell their MCI T1s exclusively. They have their Genuity or Verizon frame relay network connectivity for “lower end” T1.If you’re looking into Verizon, be careful of their billing system. If you get MCI, they had upwards to 220 different billing systems. It’s supposed to be around 60 now, but that’s still a ridiculously large amount of billing plans for one service. WATCH OUT FOR BILLING!
Aside from the cost and quality of service, customer service is also atrocious. It takes up to 3 weeks to simply get an email set up. Dispatches to repair service have a fairly good response, though. Oh, and cancellation with Verizon is a nightmare. They frequently ruin billing and then send collections companies, namely IC Systems, after people, which can severely damage a person’s credit score for no reason.
The Good: Service depends on the network you use. MCI’s network offers among the best in the business.
The Bad: Most customers may not know that Verizon sell different networks for comparable prices. MCI would be the best choice, but it is very expensive, plus you may be overcharged at an even higher rate if you get stuck with a more expensive billing system. Customers calling with problems may find that their calls are not responded to or returned. Why does it also take 2 weeks to set up a simple email account or MX record? Verizon business tactics and ethics are also questionable at times (bullying CLECs, cutting phone lines to impede competition, dragging their feet on installs, waiting for the DSL market to be educated by smaller companies and them steamrolling them putting many DSL companies out of business, blocking important technologies, etc)
The Bottom Line: Very difficult to find specs on their actual networks. I find that those companies with better networks like to flaunt what they have, and information is easily found on their websites. Verizon does not have anything aside from claiming to have “the best network”, which is actually true if you count their MCI network. Make sure you ask what network Verizon is selling you service on, and make sure you can get the best deal when it comes to billing. They definitely have a lot to choose from.
Verio is an internet service provider (ISP) in the United States formed from a consolidation of dozens of aggressively aquired smaller ISPs. Incorporated in 1996 in Denver, Colorado, it is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan-based Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Communications, which purchased it in 2000. NTT Communications (NTT Com), is a subsidiary of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Corporation - one of the world's largest telecommunications companies. NTT is headed by President/CEO Hiromi Wasai with Verio under President/CEO Kiyoshi Maeda and Chief Operating Officer Dennis V. Boyle. Japan is reknown for their outstanding cutting edge technology, superior business management, and personal dedication to quality of service, however, not even the Japanese can seem to save this slowly sinking ship.
Verio (NTT Verio) is the company that is offered here in the States, so we’ll cover that subsidiary in this review. NTT Com prides itself in providing “high-quality, technologically advanced network management, security and solution services to consumers, corporations and governments on a global basis, with a special focus on the Asia-Pacific region.” Its backbone network, combined with the networks of partner companies around the world, offers access to more than 200 countries, including more than 30 companies in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Americas. NTT’s purchase of Verio means the network isn’t just domestic, but international. It’s very useful if you need to connect to global offices. You can keep everything on the same network. Their “Global Tier One Network” was built with OC3, OC12 and OC48 circuits, as well as Cisco and Juniper Networks router technology.
Telemark named NTT Communications the "Best in Class" for Customer Satisfaction twice. From the looks of the wonderfully designed website, everything is laid out in a simple manner: Account Cancellations, Account Suspensions, Credit Information, Contact Information, and Requesting Domain Change. They even have a page that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to navigate around their Customer Support Section. The only thing I haven’t found is a billing page. So they have award winning customer service, but there has to be some downsides. Why? Because we all know we can’t have everything.
The service itself is fair. They are slightly oversubscribed, but the service isn’t bad by any means. They don’t guarantee 100% speed throughput, and most of the time they sell Burstable T1, thus allowing their T1 service to be less expensive. Since they are a top network provider, the network is never too bad. Again, I stress that the performance will be good, albeit a little slow at times. Also, there is a lot of talk about how bad their tech support is. It is said by some that they actually talk you down at times. The general consensus is that they are rude over at the tech support department. Just to make it clear, that’s customer care. The tech support is actually good. The techs do have knowledge of what’s going on, they just have subpar support and bad provisioning. They take to time setting things up, as well. The company has a subpar agent program and has abandoned its T1 and T3 dedicated access services completely even though this was a service Verio was well known for in the past.
The Good: The service is so-so, but the network performance is good. Their network allows you to network any other offices you may have around the world, keep them all connected.
The Bad: Verio dedicated and ethernet access is slightly oversubscribed, and they used sell burstable T1 lines most of the time. Their services don’t reach 1544k, but be mindful that only half the tier one networks actually offer what they promise.
The Bottom Line: No guarantees with speed on this network, plus you may run into some rude employees when you report issues. The global network is useful, but may not be at desirable speeds.
XO Communications, formerly NextLink, is the largest Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) in the United States. Led by Chairman/CEO Carl J. Grivner, the company is based out of Reston, VA. It currently (2007) has 4400 employees and is owned by XO Holdings, Inc. XO Communications, a provider of telecommunications services to businesses and other telecom carriers. XO Communications purchased and merged with Allegiance Telecom in 2004.
XO Communications offers local and long-distance voice, dedicated Internet access, private networking, data transport, and managed services such as Web hosting and bundled voice and data services. They operate a nationwide OC-192 IP network and currently carry more than 15 billion minutes of VoIP traffic across its network each year. The OC-192 IP backbone of XO’s network uplinks with OC-12 lines in their markets and data centers to have “one of the highest capacity and scalable IP backbones in the industry, along with the highest levels of performance and reliability.” (http://www.xo.com/)
XO’s Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) SLA guarantees 100% network availability. They also guarantee a latency is 65ms, a maximum of 1% packet loss per month, and a maximum of 1ms of network jitter delay per month. If any of these guarantees are not met, they promise one-day credit for each day the SLA was violated.
XO’s network is good. XO’s website also provides a list of diagnostic tools (like a Ping Test and Bandwidth Meter) so that you can monitor your service. Technical support is also great. If you call for tech help, a highly qualified technician usually answers the phone immediately and can sometimes fix a problem on the spot. XO’s T1 division handles installation and T1 support somewhat successfully, but what is up with their colocation division?
XO’s colocation division is not prepared to handle customers. Colocation has no 24 hour staff and they charge a 4 hour minimum at $225/hr with an unreliable dispatch, which usually never shows up. There have been provisioning nightmares where customer routers have failed and it would take 3 weeks for XO to fix them. If your colocation is down, it is not unusual to expect your entire network to be down for 1-2 DAYS – unacceptable by any means as industry average for this kind of service is 4 hours at most! Their staff fails at competence and installs the wrong services, then their billing department bills incorrectly for it.
Their billing has been known to be very poor. They’ve billed wrong and sometimes double bill customers. They suspend accounts immediately if they lapse and make you wait 24 hours to get your entire network back up. That’s right. They suspend your service for a day if they bill you wrong, many times without warning. XO lacks account receivable and incorrect bills are a nightmare to correct. XO offers new customers a no-risk satisfaction guarantee on standard products and services for the first three months after installation. One has to wonder how many times this guarantee has been taken advantage of.
Moreover, they DO NOT HAVE CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR SALES AGENT CUSTOMERS. It’s not that it’s poor, it doesn’t exist, literally. They only have tech support and horrendous billing. There is no one to complain to, except your sales representative. Their data center staff is only staffed 9AM-5PM EST, which defeats the purpose of a mission critical 24/7 facility. You will be charged $400 for a reboot or for a dispatch which is 4 hours minimum after 5. They do have 24/7 telephone support for help with dedicated access, though. You are routed to a high level tech, not some dummy who has to "escalate" you so if you find the right person your issue can sometimes be fixed very fast. That said, if you find the wrong person you can end up down for three weeks.
XO has a decent network with a good tech support to go with it, but they lack customer service for certain services and come with an atrocious billing department. Billing can be split into two or three billing system so this means you will end up with multiple invoices for one order. And some invoices you cannot pay online, they are by mail or phone only. So if you like to pay online you will be making phone calls as well every month. The sales staff is very good, though. Unlike most other companies, their sales reps don’t just make a sell to you, collect the commission and never call you again. XO’s sales staff does a pretty darn good job at staying in contact with you, but they still don’t replace a fully functional customer service department. Prices vary depending on your area, but generally they’ve been known to have excellent prices. For exact quotes, you’ll have to contact XO Communications for a quote in your area.
The Good: A good network with excellent prices. Some of the sales staff is very good along with a great technical support. Outstanding, well-conceived, web-based online controls and applications to improve customer experience - other ISPs should really learn from XO.
The Bad: Billing and billing service is downright awful. The lack of customer service does not help and a network critical company may lose a lot of money during downtimes, which are also common. XO, formerly Nextlink was once a premier company, but Carl Icahn has pretty much screwed that one up. XO is trying to make a come back but it might take a longtime, let's hope they don't run out of cash.
The Bottom Line: We won’t tell you to avoid them altogether, but if your company relies on a working service to maintain revenue then XO Communications may not be the choice best suited for you. Even though they do have a fine network, exceptional prices and great technical service, billing may be a huge headache accompanied by crucial downtimes. Tech repairs can be tiresome and take a very long time as well. XO is completely unreliable if you intend on anything mission critical.
Company Overview: Headquartered in Littleton, Colo., Time Warner Telecom (TWT) has only been around for a relatively short amount of time compared to some of its competitors, like AT&T. They’re the business division of Time Warner Cable, which provides Internet services to homes, etc. Chairman, President and CEO Larissa L. Herda is at the helm at TWT with about 2,800 employees.
TWT provides managed network services, specializing providing integrated local lines, Internet, and long distance services.TWT is working hard to solidify itself among businesses in the vast telecom market, and consumers want to know if this will spell out deals.
Time Warner Telecom’s site says their “IP backbone architecture consists of multiple, diverse optical circuits with a core network operating at OC-48 speeds and some peripheral locations connected via OC-12s. Time Warner Telecom's IP backbone is built with redundancy at the local, regional, and national levels.” TWT actually owns its own networks, which helps cut costs down for the customer.
According to their website, over the 12 month span between June 2006-July 2007, they provided nearly 100% packet delivery and their latency never went over 45ms. Their SLA promises they’ll to restore service within 2-4 hours of downtime, offer 99.99% data delivery, all while providing a latency of 50ms. It says nothing about speed guarantees. In practice, they never give you 1544k, either.
Another thing to keep in mind is that their network is full of cable users. They run their T1 over a network designed for Cable modem users. What kinds of speed can you expect? Plus, outages are frequent, and the connections rarely have high performance, in terms of speed, that their SLA spells out.
TWT’s competitive prices are cheaper than most bandwidth providers. They offer competitive pricing with term discounts up to 20%. You should expect a price range of about $410-$545 for voice T1 depending on whether you sign a 2 or 3 year contract. Their tech support is also competent. They offer prompt 24 hour customer service.
The Good: Good customer service and a decent network, all for a cheap price. Their voice T1 is costs almost half of everyone else’s price.
The Bad: Local lines, Internet, and long distance services are all under one bill, though billing may take time to get back to you if you have any problems. They didn’t have online billing until recently. Overall online support isn’t very hot, actually. Their FAQ is non-existent to very limited.
The Bottom Line: Time Warner Telecom is a decent service at very good prices. Tech support and customer service is satisfactory, but again they’re a smaller company so they may not have the staff needed to provide help efficiently. Also, nowhere in Time Warner’s SLA does it mention a speed guarantee, and we found the internet to be sluggish at peak times. It is also primarily a network for use by residential cable customers, so their ability to deliver true business class services is not as it should be.
Most recently known as SkyPipeline, Inc., this T1 service provider is another one of those smaller companies with only about 60 employees (as opposed to Qwest’s huge network). As such, their area of service is very limited to only a few counties in the western United States, mainly the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, San Diego County, and Las Vegas.
Compared to other companies, Axxcelera has a relatively cheap pricing plan at only $159 per month for a fractional T1 line and $349 for full T1 service. The company prides itself on providing “reliable, responsive, and personalized service” to its subscribers and this is reflected in their commitments, with 100% on throughput and data delivery, and 99.99% on on-net network availability. Their maximum latency is comparable to the best in the business with 50ms roundtrip, with a more moderate packet loss of less than 1%. Needless to say, the company offers the standard 4-hour restoration time should their system go down.
But the best part of this whole deal? Axxcelera promises to install your internet within 3-7 business days (not weeks), which is incredibly quick for a T1 line to be set up. Since they have a limited service area, I supposed this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s still pretty incredible.
The good: Very cheap price for a dedicated T1 line. Although Axxcelera has fewer commitments than others, the ones they do offer are substantially good. The provisioning time is also within a week, which is far better than almost every other provider I’ve come across so far.
The bad: It’s a minute company with extremely limited range. As with most small companies, unless you live in their areas of service, don’t bother with calling their ordering number.
The bottom line: If you’re within the regions where they’re available, I would suggest giving Axxcelera a strong shot. It seems like a fairly good deal.
Chances are, you’ve heard of a little company called Qwest. Well, okay, they’re not exactly that little – they have over 40,000 employees – but that isn’t the point. What is the point here is whether such a company that’s been thriving for over a decade in the telecommunications industry is worth subscribing to.
And boy, is it.
For a modest fee of $475/month, you receive a fully dedicated 1.5Mbps T1 line with Qwest. The router and installation is included with your subscription (aka – it’s free), and it’s usually installed within a maximum time frame of 45 days. The company’s commitments are great, with a 99.9% guarantee for on-net and off-net network availability, data delivery, and throughput. Their maximum latency is better than most other providers, with a roundtrip time of 50ms, allowing for a maximum packet loss of only 0.05%. And, of course, you have the standard 4 hours maximum commitment for restoration.
This all sounds pretty good so far. It’s no wonder how they manage to keep over 6.5 million customers over their wide range of services.
But what's the downside? There are two major issues with Qwest:
The first issue is that Qwest is a complete and utter mess of a company and they have been for a very long time. Even though they have been improved over the past 10 years they are still a train wreck. One wonders if they even have a backoffice or if they're just winging it. This is a result of very poor upper management. Qwest could very well win the prize for being the most disorganized company in history. Their order forms are excessively complex and long, their contracts are a mess, their back office is a mess, and one hand has no idea what the other hand is doing. Billing is also a disaster. It is not uncommon for Qwest to bill and suspend customers on bill disputes and fees that the customer does not owe. Qwest cannot seem to cancel accounts even when they are notified correctly of cancellations. Qwest is also quick to grant credit to big promising "pie-in-the-sky" scam artist dot com companies that have ended up swindling them of tens of millions of dollars but then deny honest hardworking small businesses much needed credit.
The other issue is their maintenance. Though this may not affect many businesses, and Qwest does notify you if they need to, the company does state that their may be regular (albeit “occasional”) maintenance on their systems. They state that their maintenance window is usually between 3am and 7am of the customer’s local time, which shouldn’t get in the way of effective business, but you never know – yours may need to pull all-nighters to finish up a project. That’s really the only thing to keep in mind, especially with businesses dealing with multiple international relations.
The good: A decent, dedicated T1 line. Qwest provides a range of incredible commitments for a good monthly price. You get a free router and the installation of that router, and the package includes all the necessities of VoIP, shared hosting, etc.
The bad: Being a larger company, it may come as no surprise that some customers have spoken of “more” maintenance than usual. I guess that’s why they actually have a note in regards to their maintenance schedule, which might be a bad thing for a few businesses needing long, late shifts. Billing and back office is a disaster. If you can deal with these headaches and one hand not knowing what the other is doing, by all means use Qwest. If not, run, dont walk.
The bottom line: If you are a larger corporation who can deal with Qwest's shortcomings and want a good, well-known, stable provider, Qwest is the way to go. Seriously, 6.5 million members can’t be wrong.
Chances are you’ve never even heard of OnRamp Access. Don’t worry, neither have I. But after digging up all the dirt I can find on this service provider, I can tell you there really isn’t that much to be dug up. OnRamp Access prides itself with over a decade of experience, and it seems to work; their commitments are higher than a majority of the providers out there.
At a fair price of about $399.95/month, you get a fully dedicated T1 line along with e-mail accounts that have a spam/virus filtering service. Their commitments are above par at 99.9% for on-net network availability and data delivery, 99.5% for off-net network availability, and 100% on throughput. The maximum latency, although not specifically guaranteed, stands at roughly 90ms while the maximum restoration time is at your standard four hours. The best thing of all, however, is that unlike most other service providers that require about 30 days for installation, OnRamp Access offers a provisioning date of only 5-7 days from time of purchase, with a maximum installation period of only 10 days. This will allow your company to get up and running at 1/3 the time of most other ISP’s provisioning contracts.
There are several bad aspects of OnRamp Access, though. First of all, some of the items that you would get along with your T1 service are not readily available with OnRamp Access. For example, you have to pay an additional $20 per month for web hosting. Also, should you want to cancel your service before the contract is up, you still have to pay 100% of the remaining contractual price. Did I mention that the company only has about 25 employees? Yeah, you heard correctly: 25 employees. But if you don’t believe me, this is what they officially state: “Onramp Access has 25 employees. The staff is comprised of a broadband sales team that handles Collocation, T1/T3, Dedicated Servers, a Web Site design/Development team, a fully manned Network Operations Center 24/7/365 and an Admin/Billing Department.”
How they have that many departments to handle everything with only 25 people boggles me, too.
The good: Good pricing for a decent T1 line – despite its small size, their product is not oversubscribed (much). OnRamp Access provides a good range of commitments and a very good provisioning time.
The bad: 25 employees. Seriously, I can’t figure it out. There’s got to be a drawback with that low number of paid workers.
The bottom line: OnRamp Access has a good, competitive price for its services. Although the provisioning timeframe sounds really good, I think there are plenty of other ISPs that are more solid than this one.
New Edge Networks is another one of those small companies that provide a relatively consistent T1 internet service. Although they only have about 320 employees, they offer their T1 line to almost every state within the U.S. Their prices aren’t too shabby either – at approximately $419.95 per month. Also, if you happen to be in the cities of Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, or San Diego, New Edge Networks is offering a promotion where a two-year term for their T1 service will cost only $299/year and a one-year term for the service will cost $329. By the way, this internet is a full clear channel. It’s a pretty good deal if you live in any of these metropolitan areas.
New Edge Networks’ commitments are within the standards of the industry. Their commitments on data delivery, throughput, and network availabilities (both on- and off-net) are at 99.9%. The maximum restoration time is at the average four hours, and the maximum latency and packet loss are at a slightly better 55ms and .05, respectively, which beats out many other companies’ commitments.
The only real problem is, once again, being a smaller company, there are fewer employees and that spells fewer technicians and customer service representatives that are available if something goes wrong. Also, New Edge Networks has a slightly longer installation time range at 40 days rather than the standard 30 or less. These are things you might need to take into consideration for your business if you want it running faster and more reliably.
The good: Affordable price for the full, clear channel T1 line. New Edge Networks have a range of good commitments and if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the promotional cities, you can sign up to pay even less for the service.
The bad: Let’s do the math again: small ISP company = fewer workers = fewer customer service representatives and technicians. Should any trouble arise, it’s probably going to be a pain.
The bottom line: New Edge Networks is a decent deal even if you don’t live in one of the promotional cities for the discount. They don’t experience much downtime, if any at all, and your business will be operating as smoothly as it would with any other T1 service provider.
Since its merger with Megapath, Netifice (Formerly Epoch Internet) has become quite the reliable company (not to say it wasn’t reliable to begin with). They advertise themselves as a trustworthy T1 service provider that leading companies such as Eileen Fisher and Unos Chicago Grill utilize to operate their businesses.
Some history: When Netifice merged with Megapath, Megapath was absorbed, however the named was permenantly changed to Megapath for the benefit of better brand awareness. Previous to the Megapath-Netifice Merger, Netifice was originally a merger of Netifice and Epoch Internet. It should be noted that Epoch Internet was one of the original Tier One networks dating back to the early 1990s. If I am not mistaken their network was built new by WilTel Fiber. They were also the largest privately owned backbone in the US (not publicly traded). As a result, service and customer service was superior. Epoch Internet was easily the best performing backbone throughout the 1990s and this is well documented. This means Megapath is a tier one backbone and still retains some of the best connectivity around. Megapath is one of the few T1 providers left (aside from Sprint and Qwest) that can probably still provide a real Clear Channel T1 line if requested and not some oversubscribed frame junk. Complaints about the company or service before the merger were nonexistent, though since the merger some complaints have increased.
The Services: At an affordable price of about $421 per month, you get a whole network of goodies including a managed firewall and VoIP. To start, the installation and router are free, and you are guaranteed to have the equipment installed within 30 days of purchase.
Most of their commitments aren’t bad either. Netifice offers a maximum latency of 85 ms, a maximum packet loss of only 0.3%, and a 99.999% uptime availability. Should any of these commitments not be met, you will receive service credit in return. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Of course, here come the drawbacks. Netifice does not provide commitments on everything, such as the throughput and scheduled downtime. Although there is a customer service department, Netifice only has about 300 employees, which immediately tells you that you’ll probably have to wait in line for a while if you call them. That might be bad for businesses that rely on the up-to-the-minute broadcasts for the smooth running of their trade.
The good: Affordable price for the reliable, clear channel T1 line. Relatively smooth internet that other well-known, respectable companies have come to rely upon. Good commitments in the areas where Netifice offers commitments.
The bad: Small ISP company = fewer employees = fewer service representatives and technicians. If you experience any trouble, you may find yourself waiting a while for support.
The bottom line: From the consensus of opinions and reviews, Netifice seems like a good company to subscribe to. It’s a relatively safe bet in terms of pricing and connectivity. And really, that’s all you could ask for.
MPower Communications is a limited T1 service provider that offers its services to California, Nevada, and Illinois. For a small $400 a month, you get a whole bunch of extras with your dedicated T1 line, including phone service (long distance and local) and integrated voice and data service. The company prides itself in offering a full 1.5Mbps internet service (and not one of those fractional, oversubscribed lines) and if you sign up for a three-year term, the installation is completely free (you will have to pay $350 if you sign up for any lesser term).
However, there are also many downsides to MPower Communications. Other than the obvious limited range of their service, there is also a total lack of commitments in regards to their T1. The price and speed might be good, but unless you live in one of the three states where the company’s internet is offered and you want to save yourself the trouble by putting your phone and internet bills into one pile, MPower is not too different from any other provider.
The good: Relatively low price that’s affordable for lots of businesses, with the speed you’d expect from a T1 line.
The bad: No noticeable service commitments. ‘Nuff said. (But just in case it wasn’t, it’s also extremely limited in service.)
The bottom line: If you’re in the region, sign up for this. The price you pay for the speed you get is excellent. And if you’re not in the area – well, keep searching.
Founded in 1996, Eschelon Telecom, Inc. focuses on serving small to medium sized businesses in the western regions of North America (from Vancouver to Salt Lake City to Phoenix, etc.). The company has over 1,200 employees covering 23 markets in eight states and has been under the same leadership (and by extension, business formula and practices) since its inception.
The pricing isn’t too bad at around the $400 range for their dedicated T1 line. Along with the internet, you also receive email addresses, web hosting, web storage space, domain hosting, IP addresses, SMTP Relay, and other extras at no additional cost. They also have locally-based customer service in each of their primary metropolitan locations.
The downside? Eschelon Telecom, Inc. has very few commitments. The only ones they offer are 70ms on maximum latency, a maximum packet loss of 1%, a restoration time of four hours, and a data delivery commitment of 99.99% - nothing unique there. They also have a “disclaimer” in case their network goes down, stating that they infrequently “may need to perform an upgrade to hardware or software within [the] network. The scheduled maintenance window is 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. local market time.” That’s a little gray, wouldn’t you say so?
On the plus side, they must be doing something right if they claim businesses such as the American Heart Association and Columbia Sportswear utilize their system. Despite reservations, Eschelon may be reliable enough to get things moving.
The good: Many known companies use Eschelon as their provider – an indication of its worth.
The bad: Only optimal for small- to mid-sized businesses. There’s also a serious lack of service commitments.
The bottom line: To be honest, even with all the “bad” aspects of Eschelon, it doesn’t sound too horrible. If it’s reliable enough for some of these well-known businesses and manufacturers, it’s good enough for me.
Although One Communications prides themselves on being a company with a wealth of experience in business applications (well over 23 years’ worth), the recent mergers and dealings of this company poses a question of stability. But all other things aside, let’s examine how reliable their product is.
This is a moderate-sized company that provides services to roughly 38,000 customers and employs about 595 sales, technical, and support staff in 22 offices from Maine to New Jersey. For this company, expect to pay upwards from $499 for a full dedicated T1 line. Their services are available within Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsysvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
There’s nothing really exceptional about this company. Their commitments are within the average range with 55ms latency, 99.99% packet delivery, and 99.99% network availability – most providers will offer the same. There are also no mention of any reimbursement if their network experiences technical troubles; the only guarantee that is specifically offered is a 90 day guarantee following installation where you may be reimbursed for the installation charges of switching back to your previous provider if you are not satisfied with One Communications’ T1 line. From some reviews gathered from several customers, it seems their limited lines may be oversubscribed, and you will be paying the full price for fractional service.
Essentially, One Communications is like vanilla: nothing special – just the plain services that are enough to get you operational.
The good: The price isn’t too bad. Neither is the latency, which may actually be slightly better than a lot of other providers.
The bad: Limited service to just the northeast. Also has a high potential of being oversubscribed.
The bottom line: This one is really up to you. If you’re in an area where there are few companies and you doubt it’ll be too oversubscribed for the price you’ll pay, go for it. If not, there’s a whole market of other providers to choose from.
Covad is one of those stable and efficient companies you can trust; what other company will offer invoice credit if they can’t guarantee a 99.99% monthly uptime for their service? Covad even adheres to sending out repair technicians and experts on weekends and holidays to keep your business running. That, my friend, is immediately a good proposition.
If you order the T1 service from Covad, you can expect a dedicated T1 line from them. Installation is done in as early as two weeks (and not to exceed 30 days from the day you placed your order) and the routers will only cost you the tax of the product price (depending on which router you choose and which state you live in). That being said, they provide service in just about every corner of the United States, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg (prices roughly reach up to a moderate $519/month).
Their commitments are decent as well. Covad offers the average four hour limit for restoration time should there be a service outage and as stated before, their on-net network availability is at 99.99%; if any of these expectations are not met, you will receive credit on your next invoice.
However, as with any company, there are a few downsides. Covad’s commitment on their service’s latency is slightly poorer than others, set at 110 ms. They also offer no commitment on packet loss or throughput, which may make some wonder.
But even if you are wary, there’s no problem in giving it a try; Covad offers a 30-day guarantee in which you can decide for yourself whether their service is worth it. If it turns out it isn’t the right provider for you, they will refund everything and discontinue your service agreement without further obligation. How’s that for you?
The good: Good price for good service. You can find it almost anywhere in the United States, so you needn’t worry about your business location. The 30-day “test trial” is a definite plus, too.
The bad: Lacking in commitments in a couple of areas, but truth be told, it’s not really a big deal.
The bottom line: If you’re looking for a T1 service, I’d recommend Covad. The many good factors outweigh the few negatives for this company.
Founded in 1999, Cbeyond Communications is a T1 service provider aimed towards small businesses. Their motto is to “deliver ‘big business’ communications services to small business customers at prices they could afford.”
Their service provides everything a business would need to operate at peak efficiency, including six landlines (or a combination of landlines and mobile lines), a minimum of 1,500 long distance minutes, unlimited email accounts with spam blocker and virus protection, enhanced web hosting with 1.5 GB of storage, and the T1 internet service itself. The price is reasonable as well, starting at only $495/month.
Does this sound good to you? I’ll bet it does. But here come the downsides, and there are quite a bunch of them:
First, Cbeyond Communications’ services are extremely limited, only operating in several select cities (Atlanta, Denver, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Detroit). They are also questionable in their commitments, as they don’t provide the information upfront and are careful in avoiding any position in respect to their service’s performance at all.
Secondly, from the information they do provide, you can probably figure out their T1 line is not a fully dedicated 1.5Mbps service. They only tell you that your line may receive up to 1.5Mbps via the T1, but it’s not guaranteed. Seeing that they operate in major cities and are geared towards smaller businesses, it would be a safe bet to note their lines may be oversubscribed. If you are indeed a small business, the reduced speed may not affect you as much; however, if you’re a larger business, this is definitely not a service that seems appealing.
The good: Relatively low costs – and that’s about it. Those additional goodies that they offer with your line are usually the standard in the business, and you will be able to get them from most other providers as well.
The bad: Extremely limited regions of service – it’s only offered in less than a dozen cities across the United States. Only small businesses profit from the reduced costs due to the potentially reduced speeds – but even then, it may be better to just go with DSL.
The bottom line: Skip it. This company isn’t too promising. There are just too many factors involved that spell out a bad agreement… did I also mention it’s a 3-year contractual agreement?
Cavalier Telephone is a limited telecommunications company that serves residents and businesses in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
With only a bit over 1,000 employees, Cavalier offers decent performance in its T1 service, with a maximum latency of 80ms and a peak packet loss of 0.05%. Their commitment on service restoration is better than most other providers, requiring a maximum of only three hours; if there is an outage, Cavalier will return .33% of your monthly credit for one hour of downtime and .67% for four hours.
Expect roughly two to three weeks for them to install your T1 if you choose Cavalier’s service, with a maximum provisioning time of 45 days. Their pricing is relatively in the inexpensive range, starting at $350 and up, which is great for any business. From several reports, there doesn’t seem to be any oversubscribing and you will get the full T1 service bandwidth for the price.
Of course, you can also expect to receive VoIP applications with your voice and data network. Should you need it, you can also utilize your very own domain hosting. Being a smaller, regionalized provider, you can also look forward to plenty of local support if it becomes necessary.
Although there isn’t really any problems with the comparatively new company, the fact that it’s smaller means you can’t exercise their decent services unless you reside within their limited range. Sorry to all the people outside the centralized eastern region.
The good: Low costs for good performance and speeds. Customer support is a plus, and technicians usually take only a couple of days to respond to any distinct on-location problems. Very ethusiastic and supportive sales team.
The bad: Very limited regions of service – you’ll only find them in five states and District of Columbia.
The bottom line: If you’re within their service areas, it’s a good choice for your business. A low price for a good product… what more can you ask for?
Operating in over 70 countries and 700 cities, PCCW Global is an international powerhouse that spans their services conveniently across the United States, Europe, and Asia (with some provisions in the Middle East and parts of Africa as well). With several headquarters within their areas of service, they can offer local support to businesses in need. This far-reaching capability is good for a multitude of businesses, from the ones in smaller neighborhoods to larger companies working in multiple locations in different time zones.
The general consensus of the average cost for their T1 line appears to be roughly $500 – within the mid range of T1 costs. They provide trouble-free one-stop solution for Internet access and router equipment provisioning within most cities, and you can opt for Voice-over-IP and Video-over-IP (although at a small cost). The internet connection is reliable for the most part, but that simply means you won’t experience much downtime, if any.
That, however, doesn’t mean you’ll receive the full T1 capacity. They’re very careful to say that the speeds may be “64 Kbps up to 2 Mbps” with the “maximum speed varying in different countries.” Depending on where you’re located, it can be oversubscribed, leaving you and everyone else with reduced bandwidth. For $500 per month, you may want to consider if this is worth it. And, as stated, that cost doesn’t give you additional services with the internet connection.
The good: International businesses will find that the ability to remain connected across the globe under a single service is always easier to manage.
The bad: The pricing is fair, but only if you’re in an area that probably won’t be oversubscribed with users. If you’re located in a major city, it’s a safe bet that your bandwidth will be limited. Also, additional services that are offered free by other T1 providers will cost you extra with PCCW Global.
The bottom line: This is really up to you. If you find that you can make use of PCCW Global’s international connectivity and the bandwidth isn’t really going to affect you much in your (hopefully) smaller area, then go for it. Otherwise, you’ve been warned.