T1 Internet services from telecom service providers (carriers) such as AT&T, Cbeyond, Windstream, XO and many others can be ordered with and without a router. The router is what makes the Internet accessible to your computers, LAN network or wireless access point – what ever you choose to connect to it. The router does a similar job of connecting you to the carrier and to the Internet similar to a modem that you get with DSL and Cable services. It does much more though by directing the outgoing requests you make, such as entering a web site URL, to the server on the Internet that holds the Web pages and back to you again.
Your lowest rate on a T1 will be without the router. You can’t use the service however unless you have one so you will need to get one yourself. Not a problem if you know something about routers. You will need to get a router in the class of Cisco 1841 (pictured above). You can get comparable units from Adtran, HP, Juniper, Nortel and other router manufacturers directly or from your favorite reseller like CDW. Just pick one that any of the manufacturers or resellers confirm will support Carrier or Telco-grade T1 services. Whichever unit you get you will need to get it with a CSU/DSU installed and have it come with a modem port. You will also need to have a modem handy for turnup and testing.
Once you buy it, you’re just getting started. Now you have to configure it. The carrier or reseller typically won’t help you with this part so it’s up to you and the manufacturer to get the job done. Cisco provides an online guide for configuring it’s routers. Something similar is available from most other manufacturers along with free and paid technical support. Once configured, and of course after getting your T1 installed, you can connect your T1 and then call the carrier for turn up. The carrier may be able to turn up your T1 service from the Internet but most will require that you connect it to a modem and phone line for security purposes. They will do their thing which includes uploading information to the router that will allow it to securely communicate to their network and the public Internet beyond.
If you don’t want to know anything about the router and just want your service to work, get the router from the carrier. They will provide the router you need, configure it to work on their network and repair or replace the unit over the course of your T1 service agreement. This will cost you and additional $30 to $50 per month but in our opinion is well worth it. For the money, most carriers will even monitor the device and in the event it is not working due to it breaking or the Internet being down, they will proactively call and/or email you to let you know and automatically open trouble tickets to fix any line problems. Check with the carrier if your router fee includes monitoring though Some carriers don’t provide it so that they can charge less per month. Others don’t give you the option and monitoring is included with the router.