Both T1 lines and fiber optic cables remain popular network infrastructure options for businesses today. Either technology can be a major investment affecting business planning for a number of years.

Fiber optic is a special telecommunication cable, while the term T1 denotes a carrier system or data signaling scheme. T1 technology can operate on fiber optic cables, but T1 lines often refer to the implementation of T1 technology over the twisted wire copper cables used in telephony.

Both fiber optic cables and T1 lines differ in many ways and have little in common. While both of these technologies offer reliable and secure data transfer, they also come with their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s compare T1 lines and optical fiber cables and determine when they can be used.

Understanding T1 and Fiber Optic Connectivity

T1 Lines

Developed by Bell System over half a decade ago, the T-carrier systems are still a popular mode of network connectivity among businesses.

T1 lines can transmit data and voice much faster than regular telephone systems. Their data transmission rate stands at 1.544 Mbps. This helps in establishing a dedicated high-speed connection between two endpoints.

T1 lines deliver two types of services – unchannelized service and channelized service. Bandwidth segmentation in channelized provisioning happens across 24 channels where each channel can carry a capacity of 64 kbps, and one channel is reserved for caller ID or other information signaling requirements.

Fiber Optic cables

Fiber optic telecommunication transmits information using a beam of light. This beam passes via plastic or a glass pipe. This form of network communication derives its name from the thin strands called optical fibers that it uses to transmit communication.

The strands can range from two to several hundred strands, and they are one-tenth in thickness of a single human hair. Each one can transmit over 25,000 calls.

Fiber Optic cables

Unlike traditional copper wires, fiber optic cables work on the principle of light. Photons, or light particles, travel by continuously bouncing off the pipe’s inner walls and are repeatedly reflected till they reach the destination.

The light particles are confined within the pipe and cannot escape due to total internal reflection. The correct term for this type of transmission is the electromagnetic carrier wave. Optical transmitters are capable of converting these electrical signals directly into optical signals before transmission.

T1 Lines vs. Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optic cables offer high-speed data transmission that does not lose its strength even when spread over a vast distance. They are popular options for businesses located in areas with fiber-optic connectivity.  T1 lines are available everywhere but offer limited bandwidth.

Let’s compare the two technologies.


Copper wire connectivity is available in almost every corner of the world. And because T1 carrier systems use the existing copper wire infrastructure, they have high availability. Therefore, the likelihood of your premises having a pre-existing copper wire setup for T1 is much stronger.

Fiber optic cables, on the other hand, are fairly new, and the infrastructure is mostly available in the metro areas. While many cabling projects are underway, it will take time for the technology to have the same reach as copper lines


Both communication technologies are highly reliable. T1 lines can be conveniently repaired if they are faulty as they use copper-wire infrastructure. Fiber optic cables also require a similar amount of time for repair (2-12 hours).


T1 lines offer more affordable monthly plans than fiber optic cables due to low bandwidth services. If your company requires more capacity, two T1 lines can be joined to work as one circuit. This T1 bonding increases the bandwidth to 3Mb. However, if your business requires more bandwidth, then fiber optic cables may be a more affordable option than T1 bonding.



The speed of a single T1 line is 1.544 Mbps, and that of a fiber optic cable is 100 Petabits per second. T1 lines fall way behind fiber optic cables in terms of network speed.

Upgrading your network infrastructure

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