Saturday, October 20, 2007

Price Shopping for a T1 Line

Price Shopping for a T1 Line

Don’t Buy on Price Alone!

All my past blogs on different types of T1 services, how it’s delivered, and what to look for in the service have come down to this: How to shop for a T1 line. I have said few times that you should do your homework and research before making a decision on which service best suits your needs.

Let me ask you a question: When you buy a car, would you go for the cheaper, older vehicle or the higher-priced, more reliable model?

Depending on your needs and your resources, you’d have to take the time to think it over, dig up information on the products, and weigh your options.

So why can’t you just have one product with everything you want? Well, even though you can, having an all-in-one package does cost money. Just look at all those new and expensive “all-in-one” gadgets like the iPhone. That principle applies everywhere, and T1 providers aren’t any different. Except instead of looking at how many miles are on the car, or if a phone has a built-in MP3 player, you’re looking at the type of T1 line and service you’re getting (eg. Bonded T1, Burstable T1, etc.).

Prices vary, but it’s a sure bet that a T1 Line is going to run anywhere between $400 to well over $1,000 per month; occasionally, you may come upon a deal for a lower price. If you’re going to spend that much for Internet, make sure you look at every factor before you spend your cash. Simply choosing the cheapest may not be wise. Here we go again: “You get what you pay for.” Let’s look at some of the things you should pay attention to.


This is a given. Before you even begin to consider the other factors involved, you need to see whether the company can provide a line to your site. Some providers only offer their services in the major cities like Los Angeles and New York, while others are regional/coastal providers that only offer service within a certain state or district. You must make sure the service is available within your area before moving on to the next items. The most critical factor of price is determined by your distance from the T1 Providers POP (Point of Presence), prices for a T1 line will vary simply because your distance to each T1 Provider is different.


Just because it’s a T1 Service and you receive a dedicated 1.5Mbps line doesn’t mean that’s the end of it. You have to look for other factors, including but not limited to maximum latency and restoration time. You may want to look for providers that commit to a low maximum latency, which can vary from 50 to 100+ ms. Remember to check the providers’ CIRs to guarantee your available bandwidth. Many companies will offer credit if the latency peaks past this ceiling, and you should see what that credit is. Carefully make sure all of the details are written in your SLA, and do request monitoring reports. If you operate a business, restoration time may be the more important factor. The success of a trade or negotiation depends on proper processing, access, and communication so you need to look out for the downtime, which could heavily disrupt that flow. The maximum time needed for T1 Providers to repair their system and your connection should be no more than four hours. Make sure they guarantee such commitment in their SLAs and know what is offered (credit or otherwise) if this isn’t met. Check to see if you have an oversubscribed line, and that the good bandwidth ratio is good if it is. These are necessary things to look into to ensure you get the most reliable service possible.

Service and Support

Is the company’s support line operating 24/7? Will they keep you on hold forever? Can their staff communicate to resolve problems? Will they take a long time? Often times, a business will need to lapse into overtime to complete any given work, and problems can arise. If they did, would the provider’s service number be available? Is there going to be a representative on the other end to guide you through the issue, or do their support technicians only work during regular business hours on weekdays? How about when outages happen? Does that mean you’ll be out of business after hours until the next business day when the support staff comes in the next morning? Again, check that Service Level Agreement. Don’t forget, it’s also negotiable!


Yes, this is important. How long would it take for a technician to install the service? It could require upwards to 45 days before your T1 line is set up, so you may want to consider this. Some companies offer better commitments for provisioning so if time is of the essence, this is something to look for. Some T1 providers will even credit you for every day their installation is late. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to read the company’s policy on service termination. Some will allow you 30 days to try their service and if you’re not satisfied, they will refund your money without further obligation. Then there are the others who will charge you absurd fees, ranging into the thousands of dollars, for early termination, depending on how many years are left in the contract. You may end up purchasing a low quality T1 line and have to pay even more to get rid of it. This is why research is so important. Back to the car analogy: you don’t want to buy a cheap car in which requires more money to fix or tow away later, do you?


Sometimes, the provider will include some additional services with your connection. This generally entails email, and web hosting, but can include other items such as teleconferencing services, like VoIP.

Web mail can provide every employee with emails without the need to install software. Perhaps your company grows and requires more IPs for your employees. You would want to have an option where more IPs can be added later down the line without any extra charge. A DNS (Domain Name System/Service/Server) can also be implemented into your connection for free DNS hosting. This can save you money if you transfer an existing website over to your service provider or need to set up reverse DNS.

Really, there are a lot of things to consider when browsing for the right T1 service provider. Think of it as an employee package – when you sign on for a job, you’re not just looking at the salary (at least, you shouldn’t) but also at the competitive bonuses and options like health plans and 401(k). Similarly, you should think over what any T1 provider has to offer before settling on one.


Do you need Online 24x7 Billing versus calling, the ability to update your information online and purchase upgrades online? Do you need the convenience of updating your credit card information and making payments online? Some companies have poor billing practices and can mangle your bill fast. They will double bill you, or bill you inaccurately, and may terminate your service or suspend you accidentally due to the company’s own billing errors. This is common and there are real some horror stories you would not believe. Some charge extra taxes, surcharges, and fees. These charges can quickly add up and hike up your bill depending on what state you are in; or charge high late fees, thereby negating any savings you may have thought you had.