Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Affordable Residential T1 Line?

If you’re addicted to the internet, like I am, and stayed in the dorms at a college that offered high-speed internet access, then I’m sure somewhere between moving out of the dorms and now, you wished you could have a fast T1 (Trunk level 1) or T3 (Trunk Level 3) line at home to log online. Since graduating, I’ve used cable and DSL for my high-speed internet needs, but lately I’ve wondered if there was a residential option for T1 service.

Those of you who never had the luxury of using a T1 line don’t know what you’re missing out on, and it’s probably best that way depending on how you look at it. It’s comparable to moving up to cable or DSL from a dial-up. To put things in perspective, a download of an average mp3 file (please download legally) may take a half hour to an hour on dial-up connection, a few minutes for DSL connection, and only a few seconds for T1 connection. Yes, a few seconds. You can see how someone would be spoiled when using it for a couple years. Imagine watching videos on YouTube, movie trailers online instantly. I used to love playing online computer games and talking over VoIP, all while downloading files without any spikes or chokes to my ping and connection. You can check out how different connections are ranked with this chart.

A T1 line uses a fiber optic, or sometimes copper, line to your location. Originally, T1 lines were used internally by phone companies to inter-connect Central Offices (CO’s), but were made available to the public in 1983. The T1 line can carry 24 digitalized voice channels and carry data at a rate of about 1.5 megabits per second. This is ideal for web servers, multi-user VPN, VoIP, networking VoIP telephone, etc. For it to be affordable, though, the home-use consumer would have to opt for a fractional T1 line, pretty much means you would be sharing a T1 line with another subscriber, or more. The fractional T1 still maintain their speeds, so for the average user, it’s still more than enough. Just like cable and DSL, there are different plans you can choose from, such as speeds of 386kbps, 512kbps or 768kbps. Just like with cable and DSL, you’ll have to choose the service package right for you.

After looking through many websites with real time price quotes, I discovered that T1 prices are very affordable… relatively speaking. A T1 line when I was in college a few years ago could have easily cost over a thousand or two thousand dollars, if not more. After snooping around, I’ve found an offer for a T1 line going at around $250 a month! Ok, so a $250 T1 line is like the $20 ADSL offered by some companies, but the upside to a T1 line is that it’s guaranteed to be running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with the same upload and download speed. Cable and DSL disconnections have happened to me on several occasions leaving me cut off from work, a bulk of which I handle through the Internet, nowadays. For a small company, disconnection from their cable or DSL service could mean thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in business losses.

Expect to pay at least $390 for a decent residential T1 line, but you’re going to have to shop around yourself and see what service is available in your area. The more you pay the better. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

In all practicality, though, a T1 line isn’t going to be affordable to the average household. Unless you’ve got money to spare, cable and DSL should be enough for home use, unless there are more T1 price drops. T3 lines are out of the question for home use because it’s even more expensive. T1 is within reach, but it will still cost a chunk of change overall. I do suggest every small business owners, or even owners of apartment complexes and condos to implement T1 lines into their buildings. As for me, the dream of having an affordable T1 connection with speeds I had in college is out the question.

At least for now.