The Demise of the T3

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here.
Data continues to grow at a tremendous rate. Offices that used to do fine with T-1 lines and 1.5 megabit connections would have 4 or 5 T-1 lines just a few years ago. Then, we routinely started installing 22 to 100 megabit internet, usually via the cable-TV companies. The phone companies howled at the loss of those incredibly expensive T-1 lines. But when a 100 MB connection costs less than a single T-1 line the decision is clear.
I never understood why the telcos didn’t promote T-3 harder. A decade ago we discovered how to push 45 megabits down a single copper pair. Yet, phone companies continued to charge $5,500 or more for a T-3 connection. Even though the telco’s costs had gone to the point that they could provision a 45 megabit T-3 for the cost of a 1.5 megabit T-1 they saw no need to be competitive.

So, one by one, office by office, we have pulled out T-1 lines (and T-3 where we had it) and have switched to 50 megabit and 100 megabit over cable. The cost to convert to VOIP has become so nominal that we do that at the same time. This has meant that the local telco loses all of the local traffic and the international traffic as well.

It must just be sheer misery to be a local telco. Their refusal to be creative or to offer competitive service means that  their death is only a matter of time.

Our company occasionally acquires other firms and we have to go in and perform what is called “Due Diligence.” One of my standard questions is how local dialtone is provisioned. If the answer comes back that it is provisioned over copper pairs or T-1 there had better be some pretty amazing justification going on. If the answer is that it is VOIP then the telcom manager may find a home with us after the acquisition. But if they don’t have a clear and convincing reason for using copper pairs I put their name on the lay-off list. We have no use for somebody so stuck-in-the-woods that they still buy copper-pair dialtone.

My sister was complaining about her phone bill. She had been charged long distance to call outside her local city. But she paid to upgrade to unlimited calling. I was stunned that her Century Link (aka Qwest aka USWest aka US Worst aka Pacific Northwest Bell) phone bill was almost $60 a month for dialtone, including taxes.

I asked her why she didn’t switch to VOIP or any of the other services out there. Her answer was that she was “too busy.” So here she blows $600 a year because she is too busy?

Yes, as far as I can tell the local telcos are actually in the business of charging lazy people a “stupid person” tax. I think that the folks that sell ponzi schemes and other bad investments should buy the customer lists of folks still using copper-wire dialtone.

Sorry if I insulted you. My perspective is mostly that of Asia. There is remarkably little use for copper-pair dialtone over here. I bet in another 10 or 20 years America will catch up, too.

Time for new thinking. Get creative.