Why Use DS3 - Comparing T1, T3, OC-3 and DS3 bandwidth (2024)

Why Use DS3?
Comparing T1, T3, OC3 & DS3 bandwidth, plus Carrier Ethernet

By: John Shepler

If your business class DSL or T1 broadband service no longer has enough speed to meet your bandwidth needs for video or data transfer, you may be considering a move up to DS3 or T3 service. Here's when that makes sense... and when it doesn't

What's the difference between DS3 and T3?
Ah, what's in a name? Both of these terms have their origination in the T-carrier system, originally developed to provide high speed "trunk" lines between telephone company offices. Everything is based on DS0 or "digital signal level zero" which is a 64K bit per second channel. Group 24 DS0 channels together and you have a DS1. When the DS1 is connected to a wire circuit, it is called a T1. T1 runs at 1.544 Mbps (megabits per second).

Not fast enough? OK, group 28 DS1 channels together (equivalent to 28 T1 lines) and you have a DS3 or digital signal level 3 running at 44.736 Mbps, or 45 Mbps for short. Connect that to a wire circuit and its called a T3. By the way, that T3 line is equivalent to 672 voice channels. DS3 and T3 terms are often used interchangeably.

So, are T3 and OC-3 equivalent?
No, not really. T3 is the "big daddy" of the T-carrier system. T3 is copper wire based, although using coaxial cable rather than pairs of phone wires to support the higher speed.

OC-3 is another animal entirely. It is part of the Optical Carrier (OC) levels defined for a fiber optic transmission system called SONET (Synchronous Optical Network). OC-3 runs at 155 Mbps verses T3 at 45 Mbps. That's a big difference in speed and, as you might imagine, cost.

OC-1 service is the equivalent of DS3 or T3. It provides 672 voice channels (or 64K data channels) and runs at 52 Mbps to include the extra bits needed for the optical service. The highest OC level you can get at present is OC-768 which runs at 39,512 Mbps or about 40 Gbps (Gigabits per second).

When does DS3 or T3 service make sense?
If all you require is 2 or 3 times the speed of a T1 line, then you are better off with multiple T1 lines or connecting them together in what is called "bonded T1" service. Once you get past 6 or 8 T1 lines, the price of a T3 line is often competitive. Remember, with T3 you get the equivalent of 28 T1 lines, which is a LOT more capability.

DS3 Bandwidth generally makes sense for corporations that have a need for high speed electronic data transfer between plant sites or offices. Very large call centers, enterprise wide VoIP and IP PBX systems, Internet service providers, universities, research labs, video conference centers and software development companies are also good candidates for T3 lines with DS3 level service.

DS3 transport may be a cost effective substitute for point to point microwave for MPEG Broadcast Video Transmission. It is also applicable for Surveillance Cameras, CCTV Systems, and VLAN Trunks.

If a full DS3 line is more bandwidth that you really need, it is also possible to get Fractional DS3, which gives you a portion of full ds3 bandwidth at a lower cost. Of course, DS3 is also available in multiples to increase bandwidth, similar to bonded T1 service.

Competition from Carrier Ethernet
In recent years, a newer technology called Carrier Ethernet has started replacing both T1 lines, DS3 and SONET OCx fiber. Ethernet over Copper (EoC) uses the same twisted pair wiring at T1 and is available from 2 to 45 Mbps. Ethernet over Fiber (EoF) is highly scalable in the range from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, with 100 Mbps and Gigabit Ethernet being very popular service levels. Ethernet is far more scalable than earlier technologies and enjoys a cost advantage as well.

Discover Your Bandwidth Upgrade Options Now
You are likely paying too much money and getting too little bandwidth on your old T1 line contract. Get a competitive quote for upgrade service now, including high bandwidth solutions such as SD-WAN and Managed SDN Software Defined Networking, DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Broadband, Carrier Ethernet and MPLS network services from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, with 100 Gbps available in some areas. Find out in seconds what network services and pricing are available now for your commercial business building anywhere in the U.S. Simply use this handy form...

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Why Use DS3 - Comparing T1, T3, OC-3 and DS3 bandwidth (2024)


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