Distance Sensitivity of EoC vs T1
How Eoc and T1 transport technologies deliver bandwidth over distance.
By: John Shepler
The availability of Ethernet over Copper (EoC) line service has opened up a suite of new bandwidth levels to businesses not yet connected with fiber optic cabling from their service provider. In additional to breaking the speed barrier imposed by T1 lines, EoC is easily scalable and often the low cost solution for professional bandwidth. So, what’s not to like?
There are a couple of limitations holding back universal adoption of Ethernet over Copper technology. First is that appropriate terminal equipment must be installed at the telco central office (CO) where the other end of your twisted pair copper lines are connected. This is similar to what is used for T1 and DSL, but unique to EoC. Many, but not all, COs are equipped to provide Ethernet service.
Distance vs Bandwidth
The second limitation of Ethernet over Copper is distance. T1 technology was developed by the telephone industry to provide phone line trunking between switching centers. Provisions were made for T1 specific signal regenerators to allow T1 service to stretch just about any distance from the CO. It’s still popular for business broadband in rural areas where nothing else is available. EoC is more like DSL. The bandwidth you can get decreases rapidly with how far away you are from the central office. If the CO is just down the street, you may be able to get bandwidth that rivals entry level fiber optic service. A mile or more away, your choices will be limited. Several miles away, the signal is unusable and service is unavailable.
Does Distance Really Matter?
This distance limitation isn’t a deal breaker for most business. Most locations are within a few thousand feet of the nearest CO. That’s likely the one that connects your wiring. It’s in developed areas at the edge of town or out in the country that EoC service gets dicey.
How much bandwidth are we talking about. You know that a T1 line gives you 1.5 Mbps. Entry level Ethernet over Copper service generally starts at 3 Mbps. You can go lower in some cases, but here’s another advantage of Ethernet. That 3 Mbps will probably cost you the same at your old 1.5 Mbps service. Twice the bandwidth for the same money.
Cost Savings Advantage of Ethernet over Copper
The cost savings are even more dramatic as you go up in bandwidth. Many companies installed bonded T1 lines before the advent of EoC. For instance, you can get that same 3 Mbps bandwidth by bonding two T1 lines so that they act as one larger pipe. This process can be expanded by adding more T1 lines to further increase the available bandwidth. The practical limit is around 8 lines to provide 12 Mbps.
Now, 12 Mbps is as much as many smaller companies need right now. One strategy is to start by bonding two T1 lines to double your throughput. Then add more lines as your bandwidth needs increase. This is preferable to having to pay for more bandwidth than you can make good use of. The one thing to remember is that you need to get all of your T1 lines from the same provider so that they can be bonded on both end of the circuit.
EoC at 10 or 12 Mbps is also fairly easy to obtain at most business locations. Why choose this approach? You know you can cut the cost in half by simply switching to EoC rather than double bonding T1 lines. The cost savings get even more dramatic as bandwidth goes up. A 12 Mbps EoC service might cost you two to three times what you pay for 3 Mbps. The same 12 Mbps obtained from bonded T1 lines might cost as much as 8x as much as a single line. That’s because there is no economy of scale with T1. Each line has a cost associated with it, so you just multiply the number of lines time the price of each line to get your lease price. Some carriers will discount bonded service to make it more attractive. Even so, EoC will almost always be the low cost solution compared to bonded T1.
How High is High Bandwidth?
Just how much bandwidth can you get from Ethernet over Copper technology? You’ll easily get 10 or 12 Mbps. It’s not uncommon for businesses to increase that to 20 or 30 Mbps. The upper limit is generally around 45 to 50 Mbps, and that’s only available for locations near the CO. In some cases, you may be even able to get 100 Mbps or more EoC. That’s about where SONET fiber optic service starts at 155 Mbps.
Has this discussion got you interested in higher bandwidth services for less money? You don’t even have to know how far your CO is from your building or how long the wire run is. There’s a service that will automatically figure this out based on your location and business phone number. You’ll get an instant online price quote that will be pretty accurate even without further information. Go ahead, try the automated GeoQuote Ethernet Bandwidth service (use form below) and see what you can get and how much it will cost. If you like, you can request support from a product specialist to see if there are any special cost savings deals available right now or discuss the specifics of your needs. Please note that this only works for business addresses and not residential locations.
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