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What is Fractional T1?

By: John Shepler

Fractional T1 is just what it sounds like. It is a portion of full T1 dedicated line service. The full T1 data rate is 1,544 K bits per second. A fractional T1 line may give you 384 K, 768 K or some other fraction of full service.

Why order fractional T1 service?
It saves money. Some small and medium size businesses don't really need the bandwidth that a full T1 connection provides. What they like about T1 is that it is available in rural and less populated areas, many miles from a telephone company central office. DSL and cable modem service are often limited in coverage areas to metropolitan areas. Some telco offices aren't even set up to provide DSL service. But, they're all able to handle T1. It was invented by the phone companies for their own use.

T1 is also available with a service level agreement, which guarantees that your data line will stay up and running. If you have experienced reliability problems with DSL broadband in your area, fractional T1 can be the next most affordable option.

What fractions of T1 are available?
T1 isn't an all or nothing proposition. The T1 data stream is made of up 64 K channels called DS0. T1 strings together 24 of these in a row along with some overhead and maintenance bits to create the T1 service called DS1. In theory, you can order your T1 line with 1 to 24 channels turned on, giving you any data rate from 64 K to 1,536 K of data. Common service increments that are offered for sale include 128 K, 384 K, 512 K, 640 K, 768 K. Above 768 K, you might as well go for the full T1 service, as the cost savings is very minor.

Note that these numbers represent upload and download speed. A T1 line runs at the same speed in both directions. That's unlike ADSL or cable modem service, which usually limit upload bandwidth to half or less than download speed. A T1 service would expressed as 512 K x 512 K to show the upload and download speeds are the same.

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