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What is Fractional T1?

By David White
Updated May 16, 2024
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In the realm of data transmission, one of the big names is T1. This is a kind of transmission line that consistently delivers a high and detailed amount of data at lightning-fast speeds. A T1 line has 24 channels, each of which can transfer data at a rate of 64 kilobits a second.

Because it has 24 channels, the T1 line is commonly costly. Businesses with large amounts of data transfer taking place multiple times every day often choose to pay for a full T1 line because it is cost-effective to do so. However, another option is available. Customers can now implement a fractional T1 line, which is, as its name suggests, only part of a T1 line.

A fractional T1 line allows a customer to use only a certain number of the 24 channels on a T1 line. In a sense, the customer who pays for this type of line is renting the use of those channels. This kind of business decision certainly makes sense if the customer requires only a few channels, yet wants to take advantage of the speed, precision, and security that a T1 line delivers. Despite using only a few or perhaps several channels, a fractional T1 does not suffer from slower or less intense data transmission speeds or performance.

As is probably not surprising, the fractional T1 routinely costs a fraction of the full T1 line. Providers usually charge customers for each channel used, and costs correspond to the fraction of the full T1 line that a customer is renting. One main attraction of a T1 line is that it provides a direct connection between your home or office and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). As such, it is considered more secure than other kinds of transmissions. Because a fractional T1 is a T1 without all of the channels being used, it enjoys this kind of direct connection and resulting security as well.

Another main attraction of a T1 line — and the one that makes the sale for most people — is its speed. Data transmitted over a T1 line and, by extension a fractional T1, travels at rocket speed compared to normal household modems, in some cases 60 times faster. This guaranteed speed is made possible in part because of the proprietary nature of the T1. Unlike cable, DSL, and ISDN, the T1 and fractional T1 lines are dedicated transmission methods, meaning that no one else can piggyback on your T1 use.

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Discussion Comments
By anon951794 — On May 18, 2014

I am using cablevision to run my 'eclinicalworks.' It is still slow. It has three lines on it also. The problems may be on the cloud server. We have only two people working and are not on the system much time. Would T1 fractions possibly be better?

By anon949007 — On May 03, 2014

A T1 line has 24 channels, each of which can transfer data at a speed of 64 kilobytes per second. Not 1.5 Mbps. The sum of all 24 lines is 1.54 Mbps, if I am not mistaken.

By Charred — On May 25, 2011

@MrMoody - They need to check their service agreements to see exactly what they signed up for. Sometimes companies will bundle other products on the T1 line in addition to the Internet connection, and this could slow down their Internet connection.

Also check if the provider has given them a service level guarantee. This is an agreement that guarantees the level of service they’ll get on that line, including the transmission speed.

By MrMoody — On May 23, 2011

@Charred - I’ve heard complaints from some small business owners that their fractional T1 speeds are not as fast as they expected. Do you know what could be the reason for this?

By Charred — On May 22, 2011

I worked in the telecommunications industry for quite some time, and I can tell you that fractional T1 products were among our hottest selling items for small business owners—for the reasons mentioned here.

Fractional T1 prices were a lot less than full T1 lines, and yet they delivered tremendous speed on dedicated connections. In some cases the lines were leased out for only a few hundred dollars per month.

It should be pointed out, however, that as with any other Internet service, you can buy different tiers of speeds. So you should determine how much fractional T1 bandwidth you really need, compared to your current Internet connection, and make the appropriate upgrade.

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