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Why Are T1 Lines Still Expensive?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the unpredictable-market-forces dept.

Networking 556

badfrog asks: "Over the last 10 years, DSL and cable modem has upped its speed (although in some instances only slightly) and dropped its price. However, the price of a T1 has stayed almost exactly the same. If you had asked me 10 years ago, I would have predicted any geek that wanted to would have fiber or their own T1 line to the house by now. What is with this sad state of affairs that a 'business class' 1.544Mbit connection is hundreds of dollars more than a 6Mbit cable connection? Is it a legitimate case that a high upload rate should increase cost so significantly?"

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Oh, come on! (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876741)

Why do you even ask this question?

The difference is clear. A T1 guarantees you your bandwidth. Both DSL and Cable do not. You usually get it, but that is only because others only use a fraction of what they are "allowed" to. Look in your TOS, you'll see that they do not guarantee the speeds, they are "averages". So essentialy, your ISP pays for 100Mbps and sells 5000Mbps to 1000 customers (Each 5Mbps, but in reality they get only 0.1Mbps). (Numbers pulled out of my you know what). If everyone would start downloading like crazy at the same time you'd get congestions. The fact is that it's not the bandwith that is interesting with DSL/Cable but the fact that it is always-on.

When DSL started here, it was only 256kbps/64kbps for quite a lot of money. We made the calculation compared to our average ISDN Internet usage (that was per minute) and the price would be the same or slightly higher. Sure, the higher speed was appealing, but the fact that we knew we payed a flat-fee for unlimited interet usage and always-on made it more attractive. That was why we were early adopters, not because it was faster. After all the ISDN 64kbps was plenty of fast back then. It did change our internet habits though: checking the email in business hours was a no-no. We started to check our mail after waking up ;-)

I heared that in Italy you can get a T1 for cheap, but I'm sure it comes with no guarantee.

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876847)

"I heared that in Italy you can get a T1 for cheap, but I'm sure it comes with no guarantee."

"I wanted to go to Cambodia. You can get a lobster dinner for a dollar."

Re:Oh, come on! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877201)

I'm sorry? Did you just compare Italy to Cambodia?

Re:Oh, come on! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877265)

Have you ever been to Terronia?

Re:Oh, come on! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877643)

No, it's a line from Men in Black 2.

Re:Oh, come on! (5, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878029)

No, he just compared a T1 line to a lobster dinner.

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877223)

Out in the rural areas, you can certainly get an enormous plate of rice with beef/chicken, tea, bread and fruit for $1.00. A beer/soft-drink will vary between $0.50-3.00. But Phnom Penh and Siem Reap ranges from $5 up to $50 depending on where you go. I travelled through the country for about 16 days last November and didn't see any lobster. Top of the range, but a club sandwich at the FCC in Siem Reap was $10, but oh my god was it worth it. Cambodia is great - lovely people.

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Informative)

macx666 (194150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876861)

I'm not sure when you last looked, but you are not always guaranteed your provider will not oversubscribe you for a T1. In fact, this is regular practice that your ISP does oversubscribe.

As far as the prices, one reason is that a T1 requres more phone circuits whereas DSL only uses 1. Each circuit gets charged taxes and surcharges, so it is no surprise the cost hasn't come down quite as much.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876899)

It's been a while I investigated. True... Your explanation makes much sense. I don't think they overcharge as much as in the DSL/Cable world though. It has to stay reasonable.

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877025)

Does DSL even use a classic phone circuit? My understanding was that DSL used frequencies unused by voice and was pulled off the line by separate hardware that had nothing to do with a phone circuit. You can get DSL without phone service... Well, sometimes.

Re:Oh, come on! (3, Informative)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877561)

Yes and no. It doesn't use the circuit as the higher-frequencies piggyback the line, but you do still need a line for those higher frequencies to piggyback. Here in the UK as long as the line is in place it can be deactivated for voice (so no line rental) but still used for DSL.

Re:Oh, come on! (3, Informative)

Steendor (917855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877625)

At least one company in my area requires an active basic phone service before they'll turn on DSL. That's what the rep told me, anyway...

Yes, the voice and data services use different ranges of frequencies for communication - the reason dial-up is limited to such a relatively low speed is that it only has the voice bandwidth to work with (3KHz, I think). You also need to install a filter to eliminate noise on your phone. Ideally, you only need to install one filter, but for this to be practical you need to have dedicated wiring for your DSL modem or home network.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877085)

Yeah, that's the difference between tier 1/2 and tier 3+. You only don't get guaranteed circuit if you're trying to bargain basement your way out of real T1 pricing.

Absolute BS. (3, Interesting)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877929)

Completely clueless post. You DO NOT oversubscribe T1. T1 is dedicated pipe. End of the story. You can oversubscribe Frame Relay, though. I worked for BBN Planet at some point, and was involved with oversubscription issues (Frame Relay). That was BS #1. Now BS #2 is "DSL requires one phone line, T1 requires many phone lines". That's 64 DS0 you have in mind, right? So, the reason it is BS is that "DSL requires one phone line" from the customer premises to the nearest DSLAM only. From that point, that has to be a fat pipe (but guess, what? DSLAM is another point you can do oversubscription.

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Informative)

mknewman (557587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876865)

There is another issue here, both Cable and DSL are "Internet Connections" where a T1 is a point to point connection, not tied to an ISP. The T1 (T3, SONET, etc) is a telco service, which in many cases is used internally in a business not tied to the Internet at all. That said, most telcos are now running ATM backbones, and all the traffic, be it voice, data or Internet flows through that backbone. You have many choices for connections now. BTW, I have fiber in my house, from the days when I ran an ISP. I had T1, ATM DS3, and lots of analog lines. Bell installed a large blue cabinet to run a SONET to support the ATM DS3 over SONET on fiber.

Re:Oh, come on! (2, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876955)

True, but contrary to most nations this is split in my country. I pay a fixed fee for the "connection" to the local P&T company, and then on top of that I pay a "internet connection" fee to my ISP...

Sad, but true.... I'm aware this is different in many countries, but not in mine.

Re:Oh, come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18878117)

Most Telcos do not run ATM. No one pays the cell-tax anymore because ATM died in the mid-90s.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876925)

The company I work for uses Time Warner Business Class fiber that is 10Mbps that is far less than what we were paying AT&T per month, and we do have guaranteed bandwidth and an SLA.

Re:Oh, come on! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876927)

>A T1 guarantees you your bandwidth.

Sort of. The ISP serving the T1 might guarantee it, but they don't have to. However, the company leasing you the T1 line (usually the phone company) guarantees that the line will be available to something crazy like 7 nines. The difference being that one guarantees the line will be there, the other just guarantees that *if* the line is working, it'll work up to capacity (which could be reduced if the line is faulty).

Considering that my DSL goes out every other week for some stupid reason (Good old Bell Canada, why just screw over Sympatico customers, when you can screw over everyone with DSL by not upgrading the COs so they can handle all those line cards! I just love 10 minute LCP response waits...) I can see why something like "ALWAYS AVAILABLE" is very important to an ISP.

An ISP could probably survive on half the bandwidth (I *know* they could) for a few hours in the case of issues, but without any at all, customers get angry, FAST.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876947)

I heared that in Italy you can get a T1 for cheap, but I'm sure it comes with no guarantee. eadid=770&forum=6 []

Basically the United States is by no means an internet forerunner. We are being dragged into the past by the telcos. Cancel your landline today!

Re:Oh, come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18878093)

Well, the US situation is not that bad [] ...

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876961)

Aside from overselling their capacity (and keeping their fingers crossed that someone doesn't get fed up with the congestion and move to another network), the consumer-level cable/DSL services dont' guarantee any kind of uptime for the connection.

just look at TimeWarner/Verizon/Optimum/Comcast/etc... frequent outages, sometimes for seconds (just a blip) and sometimes for an hour or more. There are absolutely no guarantees of anything; and that includes there's no guarantee they won't drop your ass if they *think* you did something illegal or if they feel you're using it too much.

Currently, I'm seriously ready to give TimeWarner a yell. When we first got them, it was 8mbps downstream and we got a letter in the mail about a month ago telling us they upgraded us (for free) to 12mbps, however, not only am I not seeing ANY increase in speed (usenet still tops out at 1MB/sec) but we're actually seeing an extreme decrease in service. Starting about a month before the "upgrade," I started seeing much higher pings (during Quake3 matches, especially) and such a reduction in overall speed in the evenings. It wouldn't even be so bad if it was just a constant 20K/sec max, but rather, we get timeouts when surfing the web (images fail to load, stylesheets sometimes fail to load) and, when downloading, I'll see 3 seconds of sustained 180K/sec followed by 8 seconds of 2-3K then a couple seconds of nothing.

I'm sure someone in our branch is either running a server or downloading torrents like crazy. About 5 years ago, when I had OptimumOnline, we suddenly saw a max-speed of 2-3K/sec and when I contacted them about it, they blamed us for having multiple computers, but later contacted us about how they shut down someone for downloading a new thing called "BitTorrent" and they warned us against heavy usage of that.

i wish people would consider the impact they have on the network when doing that sort of thing. I typically limit large transfers to off-peak hours for that reason (and my roommate's complain if I'm over-using the network and they can't do what they need to do).

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877949)

Consider the impact? They sell a service as being ale to support certain speeds. When I use those speeds I shouldn't have to consider anything other then AM I GETTING THOSE SPEEDS.

Now I understand your point, But that is a sign of your provider being crappy and not someone using what they were told they could use.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878067)

Unfortunately, that's the situation with consumer-level internet access.

the AskSlashdot poster really should be asking "why is internet connectivity still so expensive" rather than just "Why is professional grade connectivity so expensive"

decent networking hardware in general is still quite expensive. Now, granted, the price has come down considerably (I remember when a 6 port 100mbit switch was worth of a cooling fan and 19" rackmount and cost over 1000$), but you can't use consumer-level hardware for anything serious. I'm always astonished when I learn that a 300-node network requires hardware that you can't get at CompUSA and how flimsy the sub $100 gigabit switches really are.

Why don't we have affordable gigabit internet access, anyway?

Re:Oh, come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876979)

That and you usually have the option to swap data channels for phone circuits... although VoIP kinda lets you do that on DSL.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876989)

The difference is clear. A T1 guarantees you your bandwidth. Both DSL and Cable do not.

They also give you a guaranteed service level. If you need service the same day, they are generally there whereas you could wait several days for techs from CATV/Telco.

Oh, come on!-Unlimited? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877033)

"Why do you even ask this question?"

This is the forum that doesn't understand "unlimited".

Another major problem (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877485)

Is that DS-1s are highly flexible. You can provision a DS-1 a number of different ways. For example you could do 4 channels for data (256k) 12 for voice, and 6 as a private link to another office. Well, the hardware on the back end for all that costs money. That's there regardless of if you want it or not. If not, it's not a DS-1 line. Same reason ISDN is expensive. It's not the exact same and isn't as many channels, but it is a similar technology. Even if all you want an ISDN line for is 128k Internet, you are still getting everything else that one implies, which is quite a lot (a BRI ISDN line is two digital phone lines with all the features).

The old circuit switched digital phone shit is expensive. That's the reason we are moving to all packet switched technologies like VoIP. Much less is needed to run voice, net, video, and VPN over a single link if it is all done over IP. However DS-1 allows all that stuff, but can do it at a lower level. You can break out individual channels and use them for different things.

If that sounds like it's kinda useless, well, it is these days. It's legacy technology more or less. In 50 years, we'll probably see very little if any of it left. Everything will come over an IP connection, and the lower level will be a simply point-to-point with an ISP. However at this point, if you get DS-1, you are paying for all the other shit. Better to find another technology for the physical and datalink.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877881)

A T1 guarantees you bandwidth from the exchange to your door. It still makes no guarantee of actual data from your carrier's Internet backbone. DSL does not.

A T1 also guarantees you uptime - it's essentially a phone service that's used to route data (and many large corporations use it to route phones back to the exchange to save the hundreds or thousands of pieces of copper coming in). Your actual T1 won't go down because of things like rain, nearby lightning, electrical interference, etc. If you're a business you need always on connectivity; specially if you are carrying your voice data down it as well. If you're a home user or have real copper phone lines coming in then you can afford the occasional downtime due to things like interference.

With the guarantees of line speed and availability comes a price. The phone company has to cover its costs in maintaining your service, and that may include regular equipment upgrades or service, as well as the cost of some guy sitting somewhere on call just in case it fails.

Re:Oh, come on! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877943)

Disclaimer: I work in the Telecom industry.

Pricing is based on two government agencies:
1) FCC (Federal)
2) PUC (Local)

Also please keep in mind that cable and dsl do not guarantee speeds from that connection. In addition; T1's speeds are symmetrical while dsl and cable are asymmetrical; hence the difference in uploading and downloading. One final thought is quality of service; there is are strict SLA's in place for T1's; while cable and dsl get pretty much get away with varying types of service.

If you want a cheaper T1; look at PUC pricing instead of FCC pricing. Talk to your provider about UNE types of service.

PS: UNE = Unbundled Network Element.

Inertia and Marketing (2, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876771)

There are enough decision makers who remember the 56k line days that a T1 seems impressive, and if you market it as "business class" and people start talking about E1 framing and CSU/DSUs, then its obviously cool enough for business. 1.5 Mbps SDSL somehow is kid stuff in comparison.

Of course thats all crap, but hey, there's one born every minute.

consumer vs buisness grade (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876779)

T1 are supposed to have more of a guarantee with them. They are reliable and you tend to get your full bandwidth (which esp on cable modems you will not). They are also often packaged with 'business grade' support... though your mileage will vary there.

Now, how true this all is....

Re:consumer vs buisness grade (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876817)

They are also often packaged with 'business grade' support... though your mileage will vary there.

I know that Pacific Bell T1s always came with business grade support - as in, they are provided to you by a business whose motto is "We don't care, we don't have to, we're the phone company."

Fairly straight forward to me.. (4, Insightful)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876781)

They're so expensive because there's not alot of competition for them, and if you need it, you cant live without it.

You dont have the option of moving to a Cable connection, or even several, because of the need for so much upload. You're stuck. And there's no incentive to lower prices.

Re:Fairly straight forward to me.. (2, Interesting)

at2000 (715252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877777)

How about if you can get an Ethernet line to your flat for 100Mbps upload and download at $35/month [] ?

I blame US Media (1)

Genocaust (1031046) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876791)

US media companies are what keep upstream caps low. It's one more "anti-piracy" technique if it takes you 2 weeks to upload that DVD you just ripped to a single friend.

I can't give a better answer on why a slower link is so much more ungodly expensive, though, aside from the fact that is is -dedicated-. Cable/DSL providers all only give "best effort", so yes, you may get a nice 6mbit download...Or you may get 1mbit or less once they oversell their network based on "average usage of most consumers".

I have friends who personally had to move from RR cable to ClearWire because RR oversold their area so badly that they went from getting constant 8-10mbit downstream to never breaking above 50kb/s.

Re:I blame US Media (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877081)

US media companies are what keep upstream caps low. It's one more "anti-piracy" technique if it takes you 2 weeks to upload that DVD you just ripped to a single friend.

I think it's more to do with switching. On copper you can't talk upstream and downstream at the same time. So they don't have x Mb/s up AND xMb/s down. They have x Mb/s total and they can divide that into upstream and downstream as they like, but if they give you a lot of upstream and your downstream suffers, you're much more likely to call them to complain.

That's my theory on it.

Re:I blame US Media (1)

Wumpus (9548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877441)

On copper you can't talk upstream and downstream at the same time.

Don't you mean "using the same frequency?" Upstream and downstream don't use the same frequency. The connection IS full duplex.

Re:I blame US Media (2, Interesting)

MoriaOrc (822758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877837)

I think it's more to do with them not wanting home users to set up servers. A server is (especially if it's a big one), more likely to have a higher average bandwidth usage then a regular home user. You'll have all the users connected to the server in addition to all the regular home user bandwidth usage. Even if the server only has a few users connected to whatever services it provides at a time, that's a much bigger chunk of bandwidth then their projected "average user".

They figure that if they make it very unattractive to run servers by giving you a very small upstream cap, then only very few will try. They want those users who run servers to upgrade to (more expensive) "business class" services, that have higher upstream caps and (at least I would hope, though maybe I wouldn't hold my breath) better support.

At least, those are the reasons they gave me one time when they temporarily pulled the plug on my connection...

Why are vacuum tubes expensive? (5, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876799)

Vacuum tubes are expensive because its hard to make a vacuum tube that has any degree of reliability. The fact that transistors do the same job and cost dirt has little impact on the difficulty or cost of making vacuum tubes.

T1s are expensive for the same reason. The 15 meg FiOS service at my house actually costs Verizon a lot less to build and maintain than the multiply repeated 1.5 meg T1 that preceeded it.

Re:Why are vacuum tubes expensive? (5, Funny)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876869)

Wow, Tubes, in a conversation about internet bandwidth, in a way that is completely unlike the stupid lame slashdot joke..

If I had mod points, I'd give them to you!

Re:Why are vacuum tubes expensive? (1)

Scaba (183684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877553)

But vacuum tubes sound so much better than solid state. Especially in these guys [] .

You've been robbed. (1, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877783)

Vacuum tubes are expensive because its hard to make a vacuum tube that has any degree of reliability. The fact that transistors do the same job and cost dirt has little impact on the difficulty or cost of making vacuum tubes.

So that's why just about every American house had a vacuum tube radio or three before they were obsoleted by transistors? Vacuum tubes were not expensive.

T1s are expensive for the same reason. The 15 meg FiOS service at my house actually costs Verizon a lot less to build and maintain than the multiply repeated 1.5 meg T1 that preceeded it.

A false reason and analogy is as good as any for Verizon and friends. They've already spent $200,000,000 of your money without delivering what they promissed. []

Re:Why are vacuum tubes expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18878051)

I don't understand. Could you relate it to something I'm familiar with? Like, I dunno, cars?

A T1 is not shared (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876807)

Your T1 is dedicated. A DSL/Cable Modem is shared. You have 1.5Mb all the way up the chain, to the actual peering point (i guess it depends on your contract). Your 6MB Cable modem is shared among your entire neighborhood, and then all the neighborhoods share an outgoing line to the internet. (ie, they might have 45Mb for something like 100 neighborhoods, which to run every block at full speed, would require 600Mb of bandwith.)

Re:A T1 is not shared (1)

quarrel (194077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876909)

As a few people have said, the main difference is service.

Some folks do offer good DSL, with good service contracts, and charge a premium to do so.

As the parent points out however, often one of the ways they improve the service is by allocating the bandwidth explicitly up to a peering point. This is slightly misleading however, as lots of people have pointed out before. ALL internet service is essentially shared up to some peering point. What changes is where this is- at your modem, at your local exchange, at your ISPs outbound link etc. The kind of use you make of your link will help determine where you'd prefer this peering point to be.


Re:A T1 is not shared (1)

affinity (118397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877013)

actually it really depends on the level of the network your refering to...
As all connections are shared at one point or another.

DSL is shared at the DSLAM. If you had or have less people on the DSLAM then you can get your max thru put.
DSLAM's connected to the provider/CO which then a bunch of DSLAMs are connected to the providers network ( I hope you see the bottle neck effect).

T-1's are connected to the provider (the provider's network at that point is shared as they have a big pipe (maybe with QoS) to share with all of it's customers and a T1 has reliability and stability for "business" needs.

This is very generalized but none the less how it works. And yes everyone shares bandwidth at some point along the way.

Re:A T1 is not shared (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877853)

You do not, i repeat: DO NOT, have 1.5MB guaranteed up to the "peering point" with a T1. If your phone company told you that, they lied. Once your line (probably a virtual circuit) hits a data router, all bets are off. There is no guarantee that that the router your line ends up at will be an edge router. In fact, you probably dont' want it to be an edge/peering rouer. You want the opportunity to go over multiple peering points... presumably the best for your route.


Re:A T1 is not shared (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878057)

Ah but many contracts do state a minimal acceptable performance within the ISP's network. I know I would bitch like hell if my telco provided T1/3 has crappy response times to any system they own, heck I yell if they are using a bad peer for a particular route. They can't always fix the problem but if I am seeing excessive packet loss along a route they will often adjust the route.

It all comes down to.... (1)

metaomni (667105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876809)

...service. T1 lines usually guarantee some sort of up-time percentage and a guaranteed Upload/Download throughput. Your 6MB DSL lines doesn't mean anything when the 40 people you're sharing the bandwidth with are downloading BitTorrent all day long.

It's expensive because it's not necessarily shared, you get that full 1MB -- and you aren't left in the dark when the service goes down (either it doesn't go down, or you're usually compensated for it, depending on the contract).

Re:It all comes down to.... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878071)

Indeed, we've had T1 service at work even during a neighborhood power failure. It is as realiable as phone service. Then again, I can't remember the last time my home DSL went out other than me flaking and forgetting to pay the bill. ;-)


It's not the speed (4, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876813)

It's not the speed.

With a cable modem or ADSL line you'll have no SLA. It'll be "if it breaks, we'll fix it when we get around to it, possibly within three working days". With a T1 or similar line you'll get a service level agreement for a guaranteed rapid fix. If you get DOSsed, you won't just get thrown off the service, they'll work with you to stop the DOS attack etc.

Also, contention - with ADSL or cable you'll be sharing that bandwidth with perhaps as many as 50 other users. A T1 will be uncontended.

It's also expected that T1 users will be heavy bandwidth users, which is reflected in the price.

Re:It's not the speed (4, Interesting)

astrashe (7452) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876937)

I had an early ISP in the 90's, and we almost went out of business when our T1 line went down, and they had that "We'll fix it when we get around to it" attitude.

In the early days, we plugged into a group called CICNet, which was one of the old regional NSF providers. And they were incredible -- if we unplugged our router to physically move it, we'd get a phone call making sure we were ok.

But during the later 90's, one provider kept buying up another, and service went down the tubes. I get substantially better service on my cable modem than I got from about 3 different companies who managed the same T1 line in those days.

At the end, we went down, and I went down to their sales office, and said, I'm not leaving until someone gets on this, and the guy gave me a VP's phone number. And I called and called and called, and eventually he gave in and put a tech on my problem. When it was fixed, and I thanked him, I mentioned it was a T1. And he said, "What, after all this you don't even have a T3?"

I expect it's better now that we don't have the same sort of churning and consolidation in the industry. But my experience with T1 lines both at my ISP, and at other jobs, where we had them brought in, has been a lot rockier than anything I've ever experienced on either DSL or cable lines at home.

Obviously, my anecdotal experience isn't a solid statistical picture, and I'm not claiming it is. And maybe this was epecially nightmarish because we were in Chicago, where the quality of these types of services is very low. But it was far and away the hardest and most nightmarish part of my job.

It's marketing (2, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876825)

It's marketing.

T-1s are "old", business-class products. So they are not sold by the same marketoid types who push consumer broadband.

Dont't forget that you're dealing with a big phone company, so your everyday normal cartesian logic will not take hold there.

Re:It's marketing (2, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876945)


If you want to see how stupid telephone pricing is, compare POTS (that's your usual analog service) to ISDN, in the US. ISDN is expensive, POTS isn't.

Why? Because once upon a time ISDN was seen as a premium product and POTS wasn't. But actually, ISDN is in some respects cheaper, especially when you compare it to two POTS lines. ISDN is essentially a direct digital connection to the exchange, whereas POTS requires all kinds of tricks to work. And with two line POTS, you're talking about requiring twice the infrastructure, compared to ISDN.

POTS is a consumer product. DSL is a consumer product. T1 isn't, and ISDN is too obscure for the telcos to even bother marketing it. So T1 and ISDN end up costing rather more than they should.

Re:It's marketing (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878095)

The reason they arent sold by the same 'marketoids' as you put it, is that they are not the same product.

One is business class with guaranteed QoS. The other, isnt.

The price of a T1 is the same as 10 years ago? (1)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876843)

Where could you buy a T1 for $400/mo 10 years ago?

Re:The price of a T1 is the same as 10 years ago? (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876985)

Which explains why POTS costs about $16+change per line.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18876851)

I pay 39e a month for a 10/10Mbit connection. I live in Finland. Do you consider that expensive?

Re:What? (1)

whiteknight31 (744465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876953)

If you actually experience those speeds then I would say that's very cheap compared to the NYC area.

Re:What? (4, Informative)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877157)

Most people in the US are stunned to realize that broadband access is often cheaper and faster in "foreign countries" with greater penetration. Most of my fellow Americans don't realize that compared to not just the UK, France, and Japan, but places like South Korea, we're getting rooked.

Re:What? (1)

bsa3 (200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877845)

I'll give you South Korea and Japan, but the UK? Surely you're joking. In the UK, 8Mb/s DSL is screaming fast, and the upload speed sucks so hard that it's typically not even advertised. On the other hand, large chunks of the US are getting FTTH lit up right now.

Re:What? (5, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878075)

I work at a canadian telco and if I ever want to placate customers about prices I just quote them US high speed prices. They are ussually four times as expensive for the same service. ADSL 3.0 MB is 39.95 CND here with great up time and very low saturation. I get 300KB downloads almost all the time.

Service level (3, Insightful)

Burdell (228580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876889)

I have worked for small (larger than mom/pop garage but not regional/national) ISPs for over 11 years. I have seen T1 prices drop significantly in that time, but they are still a good bit more than DSL. The biggest reason is the level of service delivered. With DSL, you get "best effort" bandwidth; if the link goes down, you talk to front-line support and (mostly due to the telephone company, but again it is a cost/staffing thing) it can often take days to repair a problem. With a T1, you get your guaranteed bandwidth; if the link goes down, you talk to the network staff, and the telephone company typically must make repairs in a few hours or less (or face penalties).

Also, the hardware costs for T1 are higher. We can support something like 8000 DSL subscribers on a $25K BRAS, while a 4 port channelized DS3 card (supporting 112 T1s) runs around $45K (and that's just the interface card; the router costs another $30K+).

Guaranteed transport security (2, Informative)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18876893)

Well, maybe not guaranteed, but for some security requirements, point-to-point physical security is important. In those cases, business class DSL can't make such a claim, since there are many points along the way where it goes through a CO or somesuch thing. That's what the up-front cost is for: to run a wire from your network location to the main trunk without going through anything else. Admittedly, they don't need to charge so much for the actual network service once the line is run. I don't think that there's really much additional work to support the T1 line once the connection to the trunk is made; it's straight TCP/IP from there on out.

Re:Guaranteed transport security (3, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877713)

It would be nice if you had a clue what you were talking about.

But sadly, you don't.

Both a DSL line and a T1 are going to terminate at the same CO. No, a T1 isn't using anything other than a conditioned pair in the same cable that your DSL line is going through. The conditioning required might involve either cleaning some contacts along the way or just finding a clean pair. A long, long time ago this involved checking out amplifiers along the way and such, but that is pretty much gone in metro/suburban areas. You might find an amplifier in a far-flung rural area and that might need conditioning.

But a T1 in the middle of nowhere isn't going to be cheap, either. But it might be the best you can get if you don't have cable TV and are miles and miles past 17,000 feet from the CO.

Re:Guaranteed transport security (1)

garylian (870843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877747)

This is exactly why so many businesses use a T1 line.

Take the pharmacy industry as an example. The small chains and independents have to have an encrypted data transfer method to do their third party claims. Larger chains have dedicated lines to the big switches such as Relay Health. So, no encryption.

The same is true with e-prescribing.

Even before HIPAA, it was something that was already in place. After HIPAA, you simply can't do without T1's or encryption.

Quality of service response... (0)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877007)

If you called your T1 provider when it was down and they didn't start working on it immediately, you'd be pissed. If you called your cable Internet provider and they sent a guy out to look at the line within two weeks you'd be amazed at the quick response time.

Re:Quality of service response... (1)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877105)

I've actually had quite the opposite problem. I was out at one site that had a good 3-4 days of downtime as Verizon tried to figure out what was wrong on their end. That's after something like a 5 week lead time to provision the circuit. I've found phone companies to be glacial in dealing with problems.

Re:Quality of service response... (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878103)

Actually Cablevision's (Optimum Online) response time seems to be about one day. The reason to get a T1 is because you can only use about 10% upstream on a cable connection before they get pissed. So in terms of pricing, a T1 is actually worth the price/bandwidth for sustained use.

T Carrier is going away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877017)

T1,T3--E1,E3 circuits are quickly becoming supplanted by DSL and Ethernet Solutions.

most Service Providers can offer (or Will Offer) 100MB ethernet at about 20% less than a T3 circuit.

10 MB Ethernet will do the same for T1 Circuits.

DSL, Cable and metro Ethernet will all kill the T1 circuits.

1536k is getting to be an unreasonably small slice of bandwidth. Some carriers offer bundles (like NxT1 or FRF.16) that will aggregate multiple T1's but the end is nigh!

I'm still on the 300 baud modem (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877057)

Maybe it's time for me to up grade from my 300 baud modem on my C64.
syntax error

Guarantees are less important (2, Interesting)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877067)

Actually, this is a very good question. First because it seems like better options are available with higher bandwidth that make T1's less attractive if you have a little more money to spend. For some applications where bandwidth guarantees are critical (like a VoIP phone system or PBX for a 200 person company), the fact you are guaranteed to get 1.5 Mbps is great. For small companies, like mine, even if the effective bandwidth drops to 256k, it is still plenty. I had a go-around with Verizon a few years back over SDSL. They were committed to offer only T1's, but I didn't need that much bandwidth and couldn't afford the quoted $800 a month and change. I bought a 384k SDSL (384k upload and download) line from Covad, and could have gone up to 768 for something like 250 a month. (At the time that included a whopping 32 static IP's as well).

Service outage response time (1)

pyite69 (463042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877073)

Last time I checked, in our area (Utah, Qwest), a T-1 has a guaranteed response time of 4 hours. However, if a DSL line goes down they will guarantee NOT to do anything for 5 days or so.

Yes, it is a scam.

Price (1)

ClayTapes (904294) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877093)

"Over the last 10 years, DSL and cable modem has upped its speed (although in some instances only slightly) and dropped its price."

I pay $46 for 7megs. When I first got cable it was thirty. If i want a price reduction, I have to buy TV programming or get the "budget" internet at like 1.5 megs for 25 bucks.

4 count 'em 4 wires. (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877161)

T1 is not the same as DSL.

DSL is a 2 wire system, as it's just a POTS line. T1s have a pair for transmit and a pair for receive.

T1s have traditionally cost more than DSL and thus have an expectation of reliability. The expectation translates into extra workers watching, and better equipment used in it.

More wires = more space on equipment and on poles.
Better equipment = more money.
More expectations = more payrole.

Remember price per quality is a non-linear relationship.

Re:4 count 'em 4 wires. (1)

falzbro (468756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877757)

T1 is not the same as DSL.

DSL is a 2 wire system, as it's just a POTS line. T1s have a pair for transmit and a pair for receive.

Wrong. Look at a smartjack. It's fed by two wires. Most of them even say xDSL on them.

Indeed, the smartjack puts out four wires (tx/rx pair) but it's only a pair of copper that's feeding it.

Go look. Seriously.

USE GOOGLE... (5, Funny)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877187)

From the "I'd rather post to /. and have the editors post this topic than enter it in google" dept: ve []

First 10hits are questions on "Why is a T1 more expensive than DSL?"

Must be a slow news day.
(i know this is a troll but, "ask slashdot" questions should not be answered with the FIRST TEN hits in a google search).

Re:USE GOOGLE... (1)

badfrog (45310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877471)

Maybe because my point was to get a discussion started, as is the point of this forum!

Dedication (4, Informative)

David E. Smith (4570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877197)

I have a few customers with T1s, and they're paying about six times what they'd pay for my company's wireless service (which would be a faster connection to boot). Part of that is the fact that I have to pay the telco for that T1, obviously, but even without that they're still paying a LOT more than they would otherwise.

However, it's a dedicated connection from us to them. It's not a shared connection at any point (as most cable modem and wireless networks, and some weird DSL networks, are). Until it leaves my network entirely, I do my darnedest to ensure their traffic gets high priority within my network (with QOS and other similar voodoo). There's a dedicated router here, just for them, with a spare ready to be swapped over in about five minutes if the hardware should fail. (Cisco 2500s are down to about twenty bucks on eBay, why NOT have spares?)

As an aside, every T1 comes with my cell number, which means you get pretty much the best service I'm able to provide. Because I really don't want to be bugged after hours.

It's not the upload capacity, at least for my customers; they follow normal "small-business" traffic patterns where uploads are about 10% or so of their traffic.

Maybe some of it is just the novelty/prestige of saying "I have a T1," which sounds impressive because, hey, a lot of folks don't even know what that means. But most of it, I'd wager, is the fact that it's a dedicated, reliable connection (my customers' T1s have about two hours of downtime in the last four years), and sometimes that extra nine is worth it.

Wireless ISP joke (5, Funny)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877549)

A man was complaining about his life to his clergyman.

"I was a hard-working clerk making $30,000 per year. I was frugal, living carefully, saving my money, and I was happy and content.
Then one day I fell in with some shady characters and I got suckered into a high-stakes poker game. That was my ruin. Now I am anxious, stressed, and miserable."

His friend says "So you fell into temptation and lost all your savings?"
"No, I won, and like a fool I bought this lousy Wireless internet company."

Traditional Phone Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877287)

T1/E1 lines can service on the order of 20 phone lines from the POTS network to an ISP. They are a physical layer protocol on a leased line, and as such require a leased line from point A to point B. That means a physical, uninterrupted copper link between the ends of the pipe, or one with compatible repeaters. That is expensive. DSL requires no such line, as it only communicates to the local exchange, where generally fiber lines carry the traffic from the DSL access module (DSLAM) to the telco, then authentication is carried out with the bandwidth provider, etc...

It would be perfectly possible to promise a specified bandwidth on DSL, but telco's don't want to, since they make their profits based on a wonderful thing called "Contention". In New Zealand, where I live, our contention ratios (the ratio of subscribed bandwidth to available bandwidth) is around 170:1. That means for each 4Mbit of pipe coming into the country, 170 customers with 4Mbit DSL are subscribed. This is a fairly high ratio, but not uncommon in some areas of the US.

In effect, for you to purchase a "promised bandwidth" package on DSL, the telco would want to charge you between 50 and 200 times more than you're paying for "best effort / burstable" bandwidth.

In short, T1/E1 installation and maintenance is expensive, and DSL is cheap. That's why it costs more, but if your ISP gives promised bandwidth on T1 lines, count yourself lucky you're not being charged 50+ times more than DSL.

Faulty Premise (5, Informative)

Tjp($)pjT (266360) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877313)

The T1 I purchased in 1996 was $2000 roughly from Sprint. Of that $600 was GTE/Verizon's charge for the loop (2 pair). In 1999 I upgraded to a pair of T1 circuits (bonded) the cost was $2300 total, with $300 per loop to Verizon roughly. Then we split our connection and the Sprint T1 of 2002 cost $975 with $180 of that for the Verizon local loop. So the T1 cost has been dropping. But now the product is not in as much demand. In 2005 when we were moving our ISP to a place where bandwidth was cheap (10-60 USD per megabit/sec depending on the provider we'd chose, we reneted space plus got bandwidth and lost the overhead for the redundant power and HVAC (bundled with the space)), then Sprint offered $655 for a T1.

So T1s have been steadily dropping in price. The local loop charges however are moving upwards as clean copper is getting scarcer in some regions and the install of the box to take fiber and supply a T1 has to be accounted for in the local loop charges now. I have seen deals for $395 all in on the web however. And in the case of Sprint with had a committed information rate of the full T1. The CIR clause will cost a bit on your contract as well.

Not surprising? (3, Funny)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877321)

You want to know why T1 lines are so expensive? Because the idiots with whom you try to talk to just want you to give them money, they don't even bother to haggle on the price.

Why just last week, I was talking to my local ISP about my situation. I was interested in upgrading my 28.8 kilobaud Internet connection to a 1.5 megabit fiber optic T1 line, and was trying to determine if they were able to provide an IP router that was compatible with my Token Ring Ethernet LAN configuration. The bastard just looked at me blankly and asked:

"Can I have some money now?"

I mean, how the fuck are prices suppose to fall with that attitude?

Re:Not surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877699)

Maybe when you said you have a Token Ring [] Ethernet [] LAN, they figured you didn't know what you were talking about so wanted to see how much money they could get out of you?

Re:Not surprising? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877911)

It is a Simpson's reference, I believe. Too bad the ComicBookGuy user didn't post it though.

Re:Not surprising? (1, Insightful)

dami99 (1014687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878063)

You must be the life of the party.

T1 Prices not Changing in 10 Years????? Wrong! (4, Informative)

uberzip (959899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877429)

Saying that T1 prices haven't changed is crazy. Of course they have changed! 7 years ago my company was paying over $1000 per month for half a t1 (before broadband was really available). Since then we've gone to full T1 for $800 and now a dual bonded T1 at 3mb up and down is at that price. Speakeasy has full T1 for $300 per month. Of course its more expensive as its a guaranteed service , a loop must be brought to your location, and equipment like the dsu is spendy. But saying that the price hasn't changed is ridiculous. The price has changed more than broadband prices in my opinion.

Re:T1 Prices not Changing in 10 Years????? Wrong! (1)

badfrog (45310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877517)

That's not the experience I've had in my area. The local loop charges are the same here as they were in 99-2000, and for dedicated (not burstable) the internet fee is also pretty much the same.

Re:T1 Prices not Changing in 10 Years????? Wrong! (1)

uberzip (959899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878015)

Is that with the same ISP? I've handled T1 installs in Washington DC and Washington State and have experienced much cheaper prices. I have seen many ISPs keep customers on ancient prices and sometimes it requires switching the carrier to get a new price. Is somebody like speakeasy not available in your area?

Record Stores (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877507)

A T1 is expensive for the same reason that a CD in a record store (if you can find one) is expensive. It's expensive because the legacy phone companies are having trouble adjusting to the business models of the twenty first century.

Diagnosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877551)

It is nice that when a T1 goes down, the telco can attempt to loop up the CSU on either end as well as the NIU on either end. Once a problem circuit goes to a tester, they're usually able to pinpoint exactly where the problem is in a matter of minutes. If a DSL customer has an outage, their circuit can be down for several days while the telco dispatches a tech to troubleshoot the line. T1 lines where I live are diagnosed and dispatched (if necessary) within four hours of the reported outage time.

Full Duplex (1)

tarumaasu (633334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877631)

Among the comments made above, T1's are also Full Duplex and synchronous. That is you get full bandwidth going both ways at the same time, ie: you can upload at 1.5mb/sec while at the same time download at 1.5mb/sec. With DSL/Cable you can only be uploading or download at any particular instant.

derp. (1)

stim (732091) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877731)

I work at a large ISP, and a T1 , (which by the way is a fantasy name, its actually just a DSL line.) costs more than said DSL for one reason and one reason only: S.L.A. You are not paying big for bandwidth, taxes, or anything other than the fact that theres a contract that states that when it goes down, it gets fixed in a timely manner. No such provision is taken for DSL.

A T-1 is expensive for the same reason POTS is (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877813)

Because they can get away with charging you for it.

In most first world countries, you can get 8-10 Gbps for about one-quarter what we pay here.

But, also, we still have no adapted our long distance rates, and you have to realize the firms that provide these services lose money on parts of the business while making money on the other parts.

This is also why drugs and medical care costs twice as much here as in Canada.

1 word (1, Funny)

phoric (833867) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877927)

Upload speed

lmao (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18877935)

This filter stuff is silly sometimes. I think I am making a valid point.

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Don't you?

Because They Can (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18877941)

While there is some truth to the comments about service levels and contention, the #1 reason why telcos charge big bucks for T1s is because they can. They have local monopolies and they aren't afraid to charge monopoly prices when they know that their customers have little choice about the matter. Look at the pricing games that they played with ISDN in the USA. They priced it dirt cheap when it was a component of Centrex, a product that was being heavily promoted. The same ISDN service was far more expensive when it was unbundled from Centrex. You shouldn't expect telco prices to obey the normal rules of supply and demand. Technology has made it much cheaper to provision a T1, when compared to the early days of digital transmission systems. Rarely, if ever, are those cost savings passed on to the customer. Just look at your phone bill, and the obscene prices that they charge for optional features and in-state long distance calls. When some customers discovered that they could bypass the telco's extortionate rates by leasing dry pairs (alarm circuits) and providing their own hardware, the telcos were quick to stop offering dry pairs to their customers.

Not sure where you buy them, but they're cheap now (5, Informative)

jht (5006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18878107)

When I bought my first T1 back in '99, it was about $1200 per month. It was from Shore.Net (now Primus), and it replaced a more expensive 256k circuit from UUnet. In 2001, I bought a second T1 from Sprint for about $950. Nowadays, I buy them for my clients (usually from Speakeasy) for around $400 or less. I'd say that's a pretty big price drop. A dual bonded T1 (as another poster mentioned) is under $800 - well lower than a single T1 cost a few years ago.

Sure, DSL is cheaper, but you get what you pay for to a certain point. Most importantly, ADSL is typically restricted to 768k max upload speed (I can get commercial cable Internet with 1.1 upload around here) unless you get SDSL (much pricier), and then you basically have a T1 without the service guarantees.
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