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ISDN PRI vs T1 Lines For PBX Telephones

What is ISDN? How does ISDN PRI differ from T1?

PBX phone systems and other telecommunications equipment often supports both PRI or Primary Rate Interface and T1 lines. What are differences between these dedicated line services and how do you choose the right one for your application?

Dedicated Line Varieties
One hardware interface to supports T1, Channelized T1 and ISDN PRI because they are all variations on the same basic circuit. The differences are in how that circuit is configured for particular applications.

What's Common in These Dedicated Line Services?
The circuit that is provided at the demarcation point is based on the electrical specifications for the T1 trunk line originally developed for the Bell System. It runs at 1.544 Mbps with copper wire for transmit and receive. That's 2 wires total. T1 trunks may be carried on phone wires, coaxial cable, microwave or dropped off by a SONET fiber optic ring.

PRI - Primary Rate Interface
PRI is also known as ISDN PRI or sometime T1 PRI. ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. There are two speeds of service offered: BRI or Basic Rate Interface and PRI or Primary Rate Interface. BRI is a low capacity service intended for residential and small business applications. PRI is the high capacity service carried on T1 trunk lines between telco central offices and your location.

PRI divides a T1 digital signal into 24 channels of 64 Kbps capacity per channel. 23 of these channels can be assigned as one telephone call each, the equivalent of having 23 separate telephone lines. The 24th channel is used for signaling information and special features such as caller ID and hotel / motel information services. This service provides DID or Direct Inbound Dialing for direct station calling with a 10 digit number. It is a popular service for call centers, nursing homes, multi-point offices which need the ANI automatic number identification or caller ID data.

T1 Services
T1 service can be provided as channelized or unchannelized. In the channelized T1 version, there are 24 channels. Each channel can be a telephone call. T1 gives you 24 phone lines in place of the 23 that can be accommodated with PRI. However, since there is no separate signaling channel, the signaling information that tells when a phone is on hook or off hook is carried within each channel by using or "robbing" the least significant bit. Unfortunately, channelized T1 doesn't provide any capability for ANI or caller ID data. You need PRI service for that.

Unchannelized T1 treats all 24 T1 line channels as one big combined channel for carrying Internet service, point to point data download or VoIP broadband phone. This service is intended to be handled by digital routers, not PBX telephone systems. There are no dedicated phone channels or signaling assigned for switched telephone service.

What Do I Need? What Does It Cost?
We strongly suggest letting a member of our technical team contact you to discuss your particular needs. That way you'll be assured of getting the best service at the lowest cost. There are many flavors of high speed voice and data, including fractional and integrated T1 lines. Our experts can discuss the tradeoffs with you at your convenience.

Please be so kind as to tell us where you want the service located, and provide some basic contact information on the form below. Select the type of service you are most interested in. Most of the time you'll get an instant automated quote that will give you a very good idea of what this type of service costs in your area.

Voice Calls Simultaneous
PRI uses 1ea channel for a control channel
Dynamic Usage
PRI has scaleable hunt groups
Caller ID (Name and Number)
PRI has no name is sent
ANI-Automatic Number Identification 
Number Only
Conference on Channel (Flash)
PRI must use Trunk to Trunk
Integrated Data (Internet)
DATA channels  minus the number of voice channels assigned
Number of Phone numbers
24 max
PRI numbers are sold in groups of 20
DID Direct Inbound Dialing
PRI offer direct ring to station via 10 digit number
Phone system Configuration
Key or PBX
PRI must be assigned to group keys on sets




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