T1 vs. Cable Internet: Which Will Give Your Small Business a Boost?

Deciding which Internet delivery method is best for your small business can be tricky.

Understanding your options is the first step to selecting the ideal high-speed Internet connection for your needs. T1 and cable Internet are two popular choices.

Although T1 and cable both deliver Internet service, they do so in vastly different ways. Each has its advantages, and understanding them is essential when you’re contemplating which Internet delivery method is best for your small business. We’re here to shed some light on the topic.

We’ll outline the basics of both options and explain why, or why not, you might choose one over the other.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

Comparing T1 vs. cable internet

T1 Internet
Cable Internet

Speed

Maximum 1.5 Mbps (upload and download)

7-100 Mbps average (download)

Cost

Starting at $250

As low as $20

Reliability

More reliable

Less reliable

Contracts

Permanent lines

0-2 years

What is T1 Internet?

When it comes to selecting the Internet connection option that works best for your business, you want to keep the factors we’ve identified in mind. T1 is a solid choice because it offers dependability and can keep multiple computers connected at high internet speeds. But, it’s costly. Cable is much more budget friendly, however you’ll share bandwidth (and thus speed) with your neighbors.

Choosing which high-speed internet option is best is tricky, and with so many to choose from it can be overwhelming.  We are here to help you decide if Satellite, DSL, T1, or cable which internet service is best for your small business.

A significant advantage of T1 Internet over cable is its reliability and stable source of bandwidth. In fact, T1 Internet is often accompanied by a service level agreement (SLA) that guarantees performance levels, and “up times” of 99.9 percent. Because T1 works through a dedicated circuit, you won’t compete with other Internet customers for bandwidth like you will with cable internet service. You’ll have total access to bandwidth, and that means speed your business can count on.

Most likely you’re familiar with cable Internet, but the nuances of T1 may elude you. You’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about T1.

Best Business Internet Service Providers
Verizon
Best overall ISP
4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1
AT&T Business
Best support
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Viasat
Best for rural offices
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
Spectrum
Top no-contract pick
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Learn more about our top brands.

T1 lines are reserved circuits that work over copper or fiber optic cables. You can lease a dedicated T1 line. A T1 line plugs into your network's router and has 24 channels. Each channel is capable of a maximum speed of 64Kbs. That means you can expect T1 to carry data at 1.5 Mbps (upload and download). A T3 line is faster, at about 43 megabits per second.

Best Cable Providers for Small Business

Provider
Advertised download speeds
Contract length
Starting monthly price
Learn more

AT&T Business Internet

25 Mbps to 500 Mbps

1 year

$40

Verizon Business Internet

1 Mbps to 15 Mbps

2 years

$40

CenturyLink Business Internet

10 Mbps to 100 Mbps

2 years

$40

Frontier Business Internet

7 Mbps to 20 Mbps

1 year

$20

How fast is cable internet vs. T1 internet?

Another advantage of cable Internet is that it’s great for high-bandwidth services like streaming audio or video, and videoconferencing. Cable broadband internet access is typically asymmetric, delivering very fast download speeds but slower upload speeds. For example, with cable your business may enjoy download speeds that range anywhere from 15 Mbps to more than 100 Mbps, which is much faster than T1. But upload speeds are slower, ranging from 1.5 Mbps to 5 Mbps respectively.

Another benefit of T1 is that it is readily available. Anywhere you can get telephone service, you’ll be able to enjoy T1 internet access. Plus, T1 offers 24 different channels for data and voice and that means it’s extremely flexible. T1 also offers relatively fast upload speeds, which is advantageous if your business is uploading large files on a regular basis. That’s because T1 is symmetrical, so your upload speeds are as fast as your download speeds, which is not the case with other cable internet services like DSL.  T1 also proves to be an outstanding option if you need to keep multiple computers connected at high Internet speeds.

When considering T1, you should know that a T1 line can carry about 60 times more data than a residential cable modem. And storms that knock out cable usually don’t disrupt T1 lines. If your small business counts on high-speed internet access to function, T1’s dependability is a distinct advantage.

Not sure which option will help you grow?

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What is Cable Internet?

Regardless of what cable Internet connection speed you sign up for with your internet service provider, the Internet speed you realize will depend on the usage of your neighbors. That’s because unlike T1 where you enjoy a dedicated line, with cable you share bandwidth with other users in your community. Cable also has a reputation for being less dependable than T1. These are two potential drawbacks to cable, but there are many benefits to cable Internet as well.

How much does a T1 line cost compared to cable?

Price is a significant one. The cost of cable Internet ranges from about $30 to $100 per month depending on a number of factors (download speed being the most important one). Even at the high-end, that’s much less than the T1 internet cost, which starts at about $250 per month and can be as much as $1200 per month. Many cable companies have developed bundles to meet the unique needs of small business, and bundling cable Internet with other services, like phone, can reduce your bill further, plus streamline bill paying.

Christa Baxter
Written by
Christa Baxter
Christa is an editor and writer with seven years of experience in educational publishing and content marketing. When she’s not editing or Tweeting, you can find her hiking the Wasatch Mountains, knitting this year’s batch of Christmas gifts, or binge-watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
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