Monday, December 04, 2006

T1 Router Recommendations

Here's the scenario....all too frequently seen by the way...with a practical honest answer.

You have (1) T1 line for which you will need a T1 router in order to plug it into your ethernet router/vpn/firewall that will then pass into your LAN. You want the router to be able to handle a 2nd T1 line (or 2-T1s bonded) for future growth (if needed). You also want the router to be easy to "adminstrate".

Now here's the questions you may have.....

1. What are some basic T1 routers that will fit the bill?

2. Are these T1 routers traditionally provided and maintained by the local loop provider or the business owner?

3. Are there advantages/disadvantages to managing this router yourself vs letting the carrier do it? Typically, how much maintenance/administration do you need to perform on it?

And here's the answer you really need......

Unless you're doing something really really complex or unique, your best bet is to allow the internet provider to supply the router ... that's called "managed" service. Then you have no acquisition cost, you won't pay extra for a dual T1 router on which you might never deploy the 2nd circuit, don't have to go through the lease or buy decision, have no maintenance costs or worries, you have no risk of obsolescence, and don't have to program the thing (or pay someone else to do it). AT&T circuits have the managed router option for only an additional $15/month or so for a single T1. Other providers include the router for free.

A primary advatage of managed service is during trouble situations. If you own the router, and your service is disrupted, you're really naked if the carrier claims the problem is with your equipment. You'll have no way to dispute that until you do whatever swapout or repair visit is necessary to determine that your equipment is'll have to eat that bill....and your service would still be down. With managed service, whatever is wrong is the carrier's fault, and they can't point fingers.

If you're "out of your element" with this type of thing, then managing and optioning your own router would really be outside your comfort zone, and you might find yourself spending too much time on that, instead of simply using the circuit. Certainly, if you start on a managed basis, you can always change to a purchased router if you end up wanting to do things that the carrier would not support using their router (BGP would be an example).

T1 routers are not a $50 purchase at Wal-Mart. Paying a nominal monthly fee avoids the initial purchase price, avoids the learning curve of configuration and upkeep, avoids the issue of T&M fees and availability of an IT guy, avoids that sinking feeling when the router goes bad three days after the warranty expires, and avoids the risk of obsolesence (if you purchase a T1 router, and then need to upgrade to 3M, you'll be back at your dealer for a new purchase).

Different strokes for different folks. Everyone weighs what's important for them.

A good source for T1 quotes which include routers can be found here: T1 Bandwidth

A good source for routers....if that's what you need....can be found here: Cisco Routers and other Network Equipment

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