Connect Your Network with High-Speed Private Lines - dummies

Connect Your Network with High-Speed Private Lines

By Doug Lowe

If your network is large and high-speed Internet access is a high priority, contact your local phone company (or companies) about installing a dedicated high-speed digital line. These lines can cost you plenty (on the order of hundreds of dollars per month), so they’re best suited for large networks in which 20 or more users are accessing the Internet simultaneously.

The following paragraphs describe three basic options for high-speed private lines:

  • T1 and T3 lines: T1 and T3 lines run over standard copper phone lines. A T1 line has a connection speed of up to 1.544 Mbps. A T3 line is faster yet: It transmits data at an amazing 44.184 Mbps. Of course, T3 lines are also considerably more expensive than T1 lines.

    If you don’t have enough users to justify the expense of an entire T1 or T3 line, you can lease just a portion of the line. With a fractional T1 line, you can get connections with speeds of 128 Kbps to 768 Kbps; with a fractional T3 line, you can choose speeds ranging from 4.6 Mbps to 32 Mbps.

    You may be wondering whether T1 or T3 lines are really any faster than cable or DSL connections. After all, T1 runs at 1.544 Mbps and T3 runs at 44.184 Mbps, and cable and DSL claim to run at comparable speeds.

    But there are many differences that justify the substantial extra cost of a T1 or T3 line. In particular, a T1 or T3 line is a dedicated line — not shared by any other users. T1 and T3 are higher-quality connections, so you actually get the 1.544 or 44.184 connection speeds.

    In contrast, both cable and DSL connections usually run at substantially less than their advertised maximum speeds because of poor-quality connections and because the connections are often shared with other users.

  • Business-class cable: Cable TV providers (such as Comcast) offer business-class service on their cable network. The price and speed depends on your area.

    One drawback of business-class cable service is that upload speeds are usually much slower than download speeds. For example, a typical plan that allows 100Mbps for downloads can support only 10Mbps for uploads. Thus, if you need to upload large amounts of data, you’ll notice the performance drop.

    Another drawback of business-class cable service is that it is, well, cable service. Your Internet connection is service by the same people who service cable TV in your community. Although business-class customers get priority service over residential customers, business-class service usually does not include response-time guarantees the way T1/T3 or fiber service does.

    So if your connection goes down, you might find yourself down for hours or even a few days instead of minutes or, at worse, a few hours.

  • Fiber optic: The fastest, most reliable, and most expensive form of Internet connection is fiber optic. Fiber optic cable uses strands of glass to transmit data over light signals at very high speeds. Because the light signals traveling within the fiber cables are not subject to electromagnetic interference, fiber connections are extremely reliable; about the only thing that can interrupt a fiber connection is if someone physically cuts the wire.

    Fiber is also very expensive. A 20 Mbps fiber connection can cost well over $1,000 per month. However, the connection is extremely reliable, and response time to service interruptions is measured in minutes instead of hours.