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What a T1 Internet Line Can—and Can’t—Do for Your Small Business

Your business can’t afford slow internet. What’s merely a nuisance at home can cause serious problems for a small business.

If you can’t respond quickly to customers, they may take their business elsewhere. And productivity and morale can take a hit if your team has to wait on a sluggish connection to upload payroll data or send images to your social media accounts. According to a study by Sandisk, the average employee loses one week a year of productivity by waiting on a slow internet connection.

So clearly you need high-speed internet access. But what’s the best option for your small business?

You may have heard that a T1 line is the answer. For some businesses, that may be true. But for others, another solution may work much better. Keep reading to learn whether T1 internet is right for you.


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T1 Internet Explained

T1 internet uses a dedicated line to your business, so you’re not sharing bandwidth with your neighbors as you might with traditional cable internet. T1 lines, first developed by Bell Laboratories, have been around since the 1960s.

While telecom providers originally used T1 lines to transmit voice calls, they now transmit data across the lines as well. New T1 installations mostly use optical fiber now, as opposed to the copper wire of the past. Fiber-optic lines can deliver signals faster and more reliably than copper lines.


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The Benefits of a T1 Line

One of the best aspects of a T1 line is that it’s stable and dependable. Because your business is the only user, your connection doesn’t slow down if someone in the office next door is gobbling up bandwidth with online gaming, for instance.

A T1 internet connection often comes with a service level agreement, too, assuring service uptime. If you have business-critical connectivity needs, that reliable bandwidth is important.

T1 speeds are also symmetrical, meaning they will be the same whether you’re uploading or downloading—unlike cable internet, where upload speeds are usually much slower than download speeds. This can be important if your business needs to regularly send files to cloud-based applications.

Voice connection quality is also good with T1. You can expect clear transmission with little distortion or static. A T1 line can also lower the cost of long-distance phone service.


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The Drawbacks of T1 Internet

For most small businesses, the biggest drawback of T1 internet is the price. According to T1 Shopper, costs for digital subscriber line (DSL) service range from $50 to $250 per month, while prices for T1 range from $212 to $1,200 a month.

For businesses that don’t need to upload much data but do need to stream videos or download large files, the faster download times available with cable internet may be a better choice than the symmetrical T1 speed.

With cable internet, you can get higher download speeds—up to 50 Mbps in some cases—for less than you’d pay for only 20 Mbps download speeds on T1. The catch is that upload speeds for cable may be substantially lower than download speeds—and neither speed is guaranteed.


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Who Might Benefit from T1 Speed

T1 internet is a perfect fit for some businesses. If you are like 92% of small businesses that use at least one cloud-based service for off-site backup, store data in the cloud (using a service like Dropbox), or use cloud-based apps (such as Salesforce), T1 speed might be what you’re looking for.

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Businesses with branch offices can also benefit from this speed. For instance, a community bank with several local branches has been using T1 for years. A T1 line connecting the branches to the main office gives the bank a secure, reliable way to keep information flowing smoothly. The bank can handle financial data and ensure data is transferred over secure dedicated lines.


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Who Might Need a Different Plan

Small businesses with tight budgets may find that the benefits of T1 speed simply aren’t worth the price. If you have relatively few employees and don’t have major upload requirements, T1 internet may be overkill. A more traditional business internet package may be all you need.

Alternatively, you may need something faster than T1 speed. Fiber-optic internet packages, if they’re available in your area, can be a good choice. They can provide higher upload and download speeds, and they often cost less than T1.


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How T1 Works

A T1 line has twenty-four digitized channels, which can be set up to carry voice signals, data, or both. With this line, it can transmit about 60 times more data than a residential line. (If you are familiar with a digital signal, or DS, channels, a T1 line is the equivalent of DS1.) Since each channel can move data at 64 kbps, the overall T1 line can deliver data at around 1.5 Mbps.

Jay Akin, CEO and co-founder from Mushroom Networks, added this– T1 lines historically enjoyed a lower contention ratio at the backhaul, i.e. the backhaul connectivity that T1 uses to get out to the Internet is shared with fewer people and therefore has less congestion. You can think of this as a highway allowing fewer ramps to inject cars — naturally, that highway will be less crowded and faster to travel through.

When you sign up for T service from a telecom service provider, a T1 local loop—or leased private line—will connect your business to the point of presence (POP) for your internet service provider (ISP). You can expect to have channels configured to carry voice traffic or internet data.

If your business needs greater T1 speed, your ISP may bond T1 lines together so they function as a single, higher-speed circuit. Higher-speed options such as T3 lines are also available, but that level of dedicated T service may be unaffordable for most small businesses.

You will be able to get a fixed public IP address with a T line, which you’ll need if you want to host infrastructure elements such as e-mail accounts, file service, or virtual private networks (VPNs).

You can order T1 services from any number of ISPs, ranging from traditional phone company providers like Frontier and AT&T to newer companies like Frontier Business and Mango Bay Internet.


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Other Good Internet Service and Networking Options

Internet providers have a multitude of options for connecting businesses. Some are great for small businesses. Others make more sense for larger enterprises. Here’s a list of common internet or networking offerings you might encounter during your search:

  • Cable. This can be a good option for a small business that needs faster download than upload speeds and doesn’t have business-critical needs requiring guaranteed uptime.
  • DSL. A DSL connection uses phone wires to transmit internet data. It’s a good choice for small businesses that don’t use a lot of bandwidth.
  • Dial-up. A dial-up connection can work for a very small business that doesn’t need the faster T1 speed or guaranteed uptime.
  • Satellite internet. It’s more expensive to install than cable, speeds are slower than most other options, and bad weather can affect transmission quality. But in remote areas where cable or DSL are unavailable, satellite may be the only option.
  • Fiber internet. Fiber optic service (FiOS) lets you upload and download faster than T1 speed, and usually at a lower cost. It’s a great option, but it’s not available everywhere. Frontier Business offers FiOS internet in twenty-nine states. Check FiOS availability in your area before opting for this service.
  • Ethernet. There are a few options for Ethernet internet and networking. Metro Ethernet is a costly but very fast Ethernet option that is delivered over Ethernet fiber-optic connections. Speeds can reach up to 10 Gbps, which is probably more speed—and at a higher cost—than a small business needs. Ethernet over copper is a less expensive and more widely available option. For many businesses, an Ethernet connection is an attractive alternative to multiprotocol label switching (MPLS).
  • Synchronous optical network (SONET). SONET is a type of fiber service that can transmit a lot of data between multiple locations. Data is delivered by optical carriers (OCs), and SONET OC levels can vary quite a bit, allowing businesses to choose the rate that’s right for them.
  • SD-WAN. SD-WAN combines multiple types of internet connections while giving you control of application priorities to ensure your most important processes and tasks have the fastest, most reliable connection.  Andrew at nDash provided some insight to this technology that is gaining momentum-SD-WAN technology allows businesses to bundle a variety of connections — everything from T1 lines to dial-up — and then allocate traffic from certain applications to each line. For example, mission-critical UC traffic would go out over the fattest available pipe, whereas an employee browsing Instagram would be relegated to DSL or worse”. While T1 connections can be useful for some businesses, Jay from Mushroom Networks mentioned that “T1 is no longer the top option, as intelligent technologies that can manage WAN links are already a go-to-option as a T1 replacement”.

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How Frontier Can Help

Frontier Business can help guide you as you decide what internet connection option is best for you. Frontier provides dependable business internet in many outlying areas of the country and prides itself on supporting small businesses—and providing them only the services they need. Whether you need a T1 connection or a fiber internet plan, Frontier Business has the high-speed internet offerings to fit your needs.

With Frontier, you can count on reliable uptime and locally based, around-the-clock customer service and tech support.

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