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How does DSL compare to a T1 line for speed?

Posted on 2006-05-03
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We have a T1 line right now and its been great. Never any problems really since we got it about a year ago. We have probably around 10 users that are on it pretty much all the time plus an Exchange Server for 40 users. Now the controller finds out that AT&T DSL broadband is available in the area at a substantial savings. I am amazed because when we had the T1 put in, we were not eligible for DSL because we are "out in the country", very rural setting. The plan that we would take is advertized at 1.5 -6.0 Mbps down and 384 -512 kbps up. I understand that the T1 is somewhere around 1.5 Mbps, but I haven t seen any apples for apples comparisons of the two or for that matter, any up_down ratings for the T1. If we get the DSL how will that compare with the T1 that we have now?
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Question by:dwielgosz
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Lee W, MVP earned 2000 total points
ID: 16599559
Find out EXACTLY how far you are from the CO - if it's more than 12000 feet, you probably won't get anything faster than T1 speeds (1.5Mb).  If you are closer, then you can possibly get speeds up to 6Mbit or faster (depending on exactly what they are offering).

T1's are essentially full duplex - meaning you can upload 1.5Mb AND download 1.5Mb at the same time.  DSL is essentially half duplex and ADSL offers different upload and download speeds.  T1s are usually FAR more reliable than DSL - companies can offer SLAs (Service Level Agreements for a T1 where they can almost promise you a working line within 4 hours if theres a problem.  DSL can make no such promises - especially ADSL.

If you folks RARELY send files via e-mail and don't otherwise upload much, then you might consider it - you might consider it anyway to augment your speed and/or provide redundancy.  But frankly, if you're using a T1 already, I'd probably keep it.
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by:dwielgosz
ID: 16600127
Two years ago when we set up the T1, the CO was like 12 miles away so we didn't really have any viable alternatives to the T1. before that we had the ungodly "Starband" from DISH network. That was terrible with a capital T. The T1 has been costing us around $1,000  month and the new DSL will cost us $79.00 a month. Like I said in the previous post, we are hosting a small exchange server group (ExchSrvr 2003) and have recently moved our website from off-site hosted to on-site hosting. We use the website to showcase our products and offer a request info/quote form. last month we had a total of 1,000 visits so i guess the traffic rate isn't all that great on average. We are a manufacturer so we do almost all of our business communication with email, routinely transferring ACAD files  and videos to and from customers. File sizes range from 1 MB to 10 MB. We are pretty loose on restricting web access even though we do have a web filtering application and if our bandwidth should decrease, I suppose we could get more restrictive with non-business web access policies. The plan that's being looked at is advertised at 1.5 Mbps - 6.0 Mbps up and 384 Kbps - 512 Kbps up. When it is set up, I guess the router that they furnish is tuned and whatever the prime bandwidth is at that time, that is what it is permanently set to. In other words if it is 2.0 Mbps at installation, we will always have 2.0 Mbps after that. It appears that we will have at least 1.5 Mbps. What changed in the past year? I don't know. They must have put some new equipment in nearby because when I gave them the street address, they said we were 5,000 and some feet from the CO now. One other factor, and I don't know how this would be effected, is that our T1 line comes in to our Cisco 1760 router and from there it goes into a Pix 501 and then our network.  Would that be negatively impacted? I suppose we'd have to put their router in front of our router, correct? Thanks.
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by:Craig_200X
ID: 16600176
recently the telcos have developed better DSL technology... BUT I wouldnt be 100% convinced that your gonna get better or comparable service for the price of DSL.. I think most dsl offers will give you a test period.. if they can let you try it for 30 days.. whats to lose tho, its worth a try... and I have worked for a few major telco's in directly in dsl/cable technology.

I have seen MANY times a salesperson simply run a validation test and have it pass and make the offer of dsl to the customer, who later encountered problems....


get your guarantee in writing.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 16600201
You should be able to mostly use the equipment you have if you switch to DSL - but I'd suggest you investigate other T1 providers - $1000 a month is a bit high - you can get them for 400-600.

But think about this - if you send an average 5 MB file to someone, on a DSL line with only 512K upstream, it's going to take you  about a minute and a half to send out that e-mail message - 3 minutes for a 10MB file.  Get three people trying to send emails at the same time and you're talking about roughly 10 minutes.  Then if you receive large files, those will come in a little faster than now, but overall, to me, you will probably not enjoy the new connection.

Look for other T1 providers - SpeakEasy.net sells them in NY for $500 or so... maybe as low as 400.

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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 16600231
$11000 is a compelling argument - even $5000 (if you can cut the price in half) but DSL is NOT as realiable as DSL and they can often be faster for uploading.  (And you are uploading when you SEND e-mail and when another person browses your web site).
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by:x_X_x_X_x
ID: 16600279
I would say with those type of savings get 2 dsl accounts on seperate numbers one for a backup you know.
Also I would say make an agreement to just test the service to make sure the speeds are going to meet or exceed your needs before doing anything because as stated above if the dsl goes down your looking at 24-48 repair time compared to 4 hours....So you have to be prepared if the internet is vital to your companys success.
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by:dwielgosz
ID: 16600300
It's one thousand per month right now. What about cable? Is that even worth considering because with a little persuasion we can get that run out here.
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by:Craig_200X
ID: 16600342
^^^^^^^^^^----------Exactly - dsl is not a guaranteed service, in business OR residential... your SLA of 4 hours is what your paying for!!
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 16600395
Depends on who your cable provider is.  In Long Island, NY, and parts of NJ and CT, we have Cablevision's "Optimum Online" - which offers 15-30Mb download and 1-2Mb Upload.  Find out your upload speeds with your cable provider - if it's good (1Mb or better), then go for cable - but only if you can get a static IP from them.  And Make sure the DSL is a static IP.

I'm all for cutting your costs, just don't do it by sacrificing your business.  If you REALLY must try it, get the DSL (or cable) but KEEP the T1 for a month or two so you can determine if you need to switch back and if you do, it's easy and quick!
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by:Craig_200X
ID: 16600440
if you do decide to go with only dsl or cable, be prepared for the just in case scenario and have a plan B dialup service for emergency's. sometimes when you order your service this is included in business packages...
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by:pjtemplin
ID: 16600501
I had a T1 to my apartment (1.5 down, 1.5 up).  I replaced it with a cable modem (perhaps 2 or 2.5 down, 128 or 256k up), as the price (even at cost; I work for an ISP/telco) was prohibitive.  I was, and still am, disappointed at the decrease in overall performance of the cable modem.  I do the usual single-user home things: browse the web, do email, etc., and the usual telecommute things: VPN in, telnet to routers and check the network, connect to network shares, etc.

Lately I've gotten into digital photography quite seriously.  I make a specific point to ONLY choose the truly worthwhile pictures to be uploaded to my server, and start the upload before I go to bed.  Times of 2-4 hours are typical.  If I can find any excuse to wait, I wait until I get into the office, where we have 2xT1 bonded and uploads take minutes not hours.
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by:x_X_x_X_x
ID: 16601669
I don't think the cable would be better just you would want a backup source. AT&T comes with a free dialup account that even comes in handy for traveling.......
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by:giltjr
ID: 16602260
You need to see what type of DSL they are offering.  There are many types and some provide the same capacity of a T1

     http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci213915,00.html

The most common DSL is ADSL, which as others have stated have different upstream and downstream speeds.  This difference will cause lower levels of performace when compaired to a link that has the same up and down stream speeds.

I have ADSL (1.5 up and 384 down) at home and I get about the same performance as I get at work with two T1's (not bonded, but load balanced).  However, at work I have 300 other employee's I am sharing with, e-mail for about 500 e-mail boxes, ten's of thousands of inbound and outbound file transfers, and about 500 customers using applications hosted on servers at our site.  

If the majority of your traffic is inbound, you may not notice that much of a difference, but you will notice a difference.  Outbound traffic, like e-mail you send out, will be greatly affected.  If you have a lot outboudn traffic it will also affect inbound performance.  If your upstream is maxed out then ack's for inbound traffic will be delayed, which will affect inbound traffic performance.
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by:dwielgosz
ID: 16606530
These were some great answers and help. I was specifically looking for the following:

"T1's are essentially full duplex - meaning you can upload 1.5Mb AND download 1.5Mb at the same time.  DSL is essentially half duplex and ADSL offers different upload and download speeds."

furnished by LEEW. I knew that we weren't talking apples to apples on the two services but couldn't remember what the exact difference was and this was a tremendous help in presenting my case to the powers that be.

All of the answers were great and informative though and I have requested a quote from only one provider- Megapath- and have already come in at $559.00/month a substantial saving. I believe that thanks to this info, we will be staying with T1, but from a different provider. We recently spent around $10,000.00 getting our own webserver running and to change to DSL now would be like buying a Hummer and then refusing to pay the high cost of fuel for it.
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