The Telecommunications Act of 1996 required the incumbent phone companies (Local Exchange Carriers), like CenturyLink, AT&T and Verizon, to lease their local loops and space in their wire centres to their competition, Competitive Local Exchange Carriers, or CLECs, like TW Telecom, Integra or XO Communications.
Before 1996, Integrated T1’s did not exist. The Phone Company sold Voice T1’s, or PRI’s, and Internet T1’s and the prices were typically more than $1000 per month, per circuit.
Because it would be difficult to make a profit reselling low priced services like analogue phone lines, the CLECs leased T1 local loops and delivered the business phone and Internet service over one circuit. The CLEC’s called this service an integrated T1.
The first integrated T1’s were segmented and offered fixed bandwidth. A T1 provides 24 64K channels, so the number of phone lines a business needed to determine the amount of Internet bandwidth they would receive. For instance, if a business needed 12 business phone lines, that would require half of the available T1 channels, so the other half, or 768k, would be available for Internet access. If no one was on a call and all the phone lines were dormant, then half of the T1 was left unused.
Because Phone Companies, like CenturyLink, were making profits on thousands of Internet T1’s and business lines, they weren’t interested in offering a service that would cannibalize those offerings. Integrated T1’s were the CLEC’s main offering and they became adept at provisioning and delivering the service.
Equipment advances and VoIP technology have led to the availability of dynamic bandwidth on integrated T1’s. This technology allows a business to maximize the utility of the circuit because it frees up the circuit’s bandwidth when the phone lines aren’t in use.
Integrated T1’s come in both FXS and PRI, so a circuit can deliver analogue lines for smaller businesses, or digital lines, with DID’s, for larger ones. Your phone vendor can help you with the circuit’s integration with your company’s phone system.
It’s possible to bond the T1’s used to deliver an integrated T1, making it feasible to provide more phone lines and bandwidth. Bonded integrated T1 service can be deployed in increments of 1.5 Mbps, up to 10.5 Mbps.
Competition among the CLEC’s and now the ILEC’s (due to the popularity of integrated T1’s, the incumbent phone companies had to join the fray) has led to lower and lower integrated T1 pricing. A 4.5 Mbps Integrated T1 can now be had for less money per month than a single Internet T1 would cost in the ’90s.
Competition is one reason prices have come down. The functionality of available integrated access devices is another reason. Multiple circuits can be terminated in one device instead of multiple devices, so the equipment component of the cost of an integrated circuit, especially bonded integrated T1’s, has gone down substantially.
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) has made it so any internet circuit, no matter the size, can be turned into an integrated circuit. With SIP, the largest businesses will be able to experience the efficiencies and cost savings of transmitting their voice and data traffic over one infrastructure. SIP voice paths aren’t taxed like traditional business phone lines, so bill totals should be closer to the quoted rates.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been blamed by some as the agent that lead to millions of people losing their investments in inflated telecom stocks. That might be true but it did bring on the inception of one of the most versatile and cost-effective telecom solutions, the integrated T1.
If you can’t receive cable or DSL internet at your business location, complete the form on the right side of this page and list Integrated T1 in the Type of Service field.