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Choosing Ethernet over Copper vs T1
The advantages and disadvantages of traditional T1 lines versus the newer Ethernet over Copper service

By: John Shepler

The standard business bandwidth connection is the versatile T1 line. These connections are available just about everywhere, they offer a dedicated and reliable bandwidth and prices have been getting lower over the years. It’s hard to go wrong with a T1 line, but there’s another service that is gaining popularity that you should also consider. That’s EoC or Ethernet over Copper.

What's Ethernet over Copper?
EoC is an Ethernet WAN connection that can link multiple business locations or give you a high speed dedicated Ethernet connection. It also makes a good on-ramp to private cloud networks such as nationwide or international MPLS networks.

What Ethernet over Copper and T1 lines have in common is that they are both provisioned over multiple twisted pair telco wiring. That’s what’s in the bundle of telephone wiring that’s connected to your business now. Both T1 and EoC can use multiple wire pairs to increase bandwidth in a process known as bonding.

T1 and EoC Can Both Get The Job Done
There are technology differences in the protocols and modulation schemes that are used to transport the signal between your business location and the closest carrier office, but you generally don't need to be concerned about that level of detail. Both technologies can transport your packets quickly and reliably. What you need to really compare is how much bandwidth you can get for a particular price level.

The EoC Advantaes of Cost and Bandwidth
Where available, EoC often offers both higher bandwidths and lower prices. Part of that is due to the efficiency of the technology involved in transmitting higher bandwidths over common copper wiring. The other factor reducing prices is that EoC is often promoted by competitive carriers looking to establish a foothold or even dominance in a particular market.

What sort of bandwidths are available? T1 lines offer a rock solid 1.5 Mbps per line. Each additional line bonded-in increases that by 1.5 Mbps, so a double bonded solution is 3 Mbps. Bonding is practical up to about 10 or 12 Mbps. Above that, other solutions such as DS3 are often more cost effective.

Watch Out for Distance Limitations
Ethernet offers a wide variety of bandwidth options, including low speeds of around 1 Mbps, the standard 10 Mbps Ethernet that is also the basic Ethernet LAN speed, and other steps up to around 45 Mbps. That seems to give EoC a bandwidth advantage, but there’s a rub. Ethernet over Copper has distance limitations. You need to be within a few miles of a carrier point of presence to get this service. T1 and bonded T1 does not have these limitations.

Ethernet over DS1 Offers Long Reach
If you are located in a small town, rural area or are otherwise not eligible for EoC service, there is another option rapidly becoming available called EoDS1 or Ethernet over DS1. This uses the data specification for T1 lines, called DS1, to transport Ethernet. In effect, this is Ethernet delivered over a T1 line using special interface equipment at both ends.

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