A DS3 Speed Primer: Fast and Faster

Updated: March 07, 2007

The dirty secret of VoIP is that while it enables calls that don't cost much, it eats bandwidth that can cost a lot.

Despite technicians' best efforts to compress voice signal size using algorithms you need a Ph.D. in math just to read, voice signals remain large. For your business to carry VoIP effectively and reliably, you need the appropriate computing firepower and a big-enough pipeline to handle VoIP call volume into, out of and around your network .

Depending on your network and needs , you may be able to get by with a relatively low-bandwidth connection - but grow beyond a certain point and it may be time to upgrade to a DS3 connection .

Bandwidth is the amount of data that computers can transmit through a wire or wireless channel each second. A single voice conversation requires a bandwidth of 64 kilobits per second for good call quality, so 64 kbps is the basis for discussing transmission speeds.

64 kbps is called digital signal zero, or DS0, and is not considered to be a high-speed line nowadays; the minimum for high-speed transmission is about 24 times faster than DS0, and is called DS1. This is the maximum speed of most home-based DSL Internet service through telecom carriers, and more familiar as a "T1" line (for instance, your laptop probably has a T1 jack in its side—it's slightly wider than a phone jack). A dedicated T1 line is always on, transmitting and receiving the equivalent of 24 voice conversations from the Internet provider's servers.

But as a business's bandwidth requirements increase, the next step up is DS3, which is 672 times faster than DS0 and thus transmits 672 voice conversations (or the equivalent in other data) at once. Today's primary DS3 users are high-traffic Web sites, medium to large Web-hosting companies, medical centers, call centers, universities and government offices.

DS3 lines, also called T3 lines, are not cheap. Their high capacity makes them sought-after as the backbone of today's Internet. Also, DS3 lines are more complex than T1 - technically, they run 28 T1 lines alongside one another, and that takes extra equipment and software to work properly.

One broker quotes DS3 service starting at $2,000/month and up , although prices are dropping as ever-more users need DS3 and competition in this market rises.

Major telecom providers typically offer a range of services and speeds, including DS3; for example, Verizon Business publishes a chart showing the speeds and business applications of various bandwidth sizes.

Businesses should consider a dedicated T1 connection as the minimum to support VoIP and other data traffic—but when that starts to feel cramped, upgrading to a DS3 line (or a fraction of one) should solve a company's bandwidth problems for awhile.
 

Frequently Asked Questions about DS3


Can I share the cost of DS3 service?

Yes. Businesses that don't need constant DS3-level bandwidth should consider a "burstable" connection, which involves sharing DS3 access with another company or companies through the DS3 provider. This gives access to extremely high transmission rates for much less than the cost of a full DS3 set-up, because the companies sharing the burstable connection don't usually combine to use all the bandwidth at the same time.

Are all DS3 providers created equal?

No, and those shopping for a business DS3 connection should focus on quality of service rather than price. In exchange for a low price, some providers may oversubscribe DS3 connections—without telling you, of course—threatening delivery of DS3 speeds during peak periods. Review the service level agreement (SLA) with a provider before signing anything.
 

Featured Research
  • Mobile Communication Showdown

    It's no secret that businesses are becoming agiler and employees are spending more time away from their desks. The question isn't should we get rid of our landlines, but how quickly can we replace them?However, staying connected with your colleagues, clients, and customers is absolutely essential for cultivating long-term, lucrative relationships that will help your company achieve success. more

  • The Best Business Phone Systems in 2017

    71% of people say they are more creative of people when they are able to collaborate on teams. Collaboration is essential to business success and has never been more impactful than today. As the number of conversations outside of face-to-face meetings and travel increases, it is important for you to invest in a phone system that will allow your business to flourish. more

  • The Future of VoIP Security

    Looking to invest in a VoIP system? With the fantastic strides that have occurred in communication technology one thing to keep in mind is there has also been an increase in concerns surrounding security. As an example of this, in the third quarter of 2016 alone, there were over 18 million malware samples captured. more

  • Impressive VoIP Features for Business Growth

    Great communication is an important building block of business success. Let this sink in, through a simple internet connection, you can connect with people around the globe, from where you are at that moment. All of this is possible with a VoIP phone system, and if you don't have one you should be seriously be considering getting one. more

  • 8 Ways Business Travelers Can Save with VoIP

    Do you or any part of your workforce travel for work, or even telecommute? If that answer is yes, then you should be utilizing mobile VoIP. With VoIP, businesses have been found to save as much as 40% on local calls and a whopping 90% on international calling expenses. more