What Is a Leased Line?

What-is-a-leased-line

When considering leased line vs broadband there are many things to consider. Which one would suit your needs?

It’s an increasingly rare business in the modern world that doesn’t rely upon the internet to some extent. Indeed, as systems and data move to the cloud, a reliable, fast internet connection is often essential to day-to-day operation. Similarly, as businesses become more geographically diverse they need their branch offices and staff to be able to access central office data as they need it and without any performance penalty.

For many people, their first thought when considering how best to make all of these connections for the business would be broadband. But it has shortcomings that may not make it the best choice for heavily internet-reliant organisations. When considering leased line vs broadband there are many things to consider.

Broadband vs leased line

What is a leased line? video conferencingIn order to identify the best connection option for your business, you need to understand what is broadband and what is a leased line. Broadband is the way most of us connect to the Internet from our homes. For domestic use, and indeed for many smaller businesses, it’s perfectly fine and far preferable to the old days of dial-up access. However, for larger organisations that are heavily reliant on the web and on the use of cloud-based services, broadband has some significant drawbacks.

Firstly, broadband is by its nature an asynchronous connection; you’ll often see it referred to as ADSL (which stands for asynchronous digital subscriber line). This means that it operates at different speeds in each direction. Download speeds on broadband are much faster than upload speeds.

You can check this for yourself by using one of the many free online speed testers. Typical domestic fibre broadband, for example, might get you up to 40Mbps downloads, but only 1.5Mbps uploads. An asynchronous connection is fine while most of your data is incoming – you’re listening to Spotify or streaming Game of Thrones – but if you need to send large files the other way, to another user or to make a cloud backup, then it presents a major bottleneck.

With broadband, once the line leaves your premises you’re sharing it with other people. This is known as contention, typical UK broadband has a contention ratio of between 20:1 and 50:1. You can think of this rather like road traffic; your street may be able to cope with 50 cars spaced out over the day, but if they all go off to work or on the school run at the same time each morning you’re going to get congestion. The same happens with broadband; when everyone else is online in the evenings your connection will slow down. Again you can test this for yourself by running a speed check at different times of day and noting the difference.

The same happens with broadband; when everyone else is online in the evenings your connection will slow down. Again you can test this for yourself by running a speed check at different times of day and noting the difference.

Something else you need to consider with broadband is the total amount of traffic you’re allowed to transfer. Domestic lines often have a cap on the amount of data you can receive each month and you’ll pay extra charges if it’s exceeded. Even where lines are advertised as ‘unlimited’ they will usually be subject to some sort of fair usage cap.

So, what is a leased line? Unlike broadband it’s dedicated for your use only, so you get a guaranteed line speed that won’t slow down at peak times of the day. It’s also a synchronous connection, so you can upload data just as fast as you can download it. This makes a big difference to activities such as video conferencing that consume a lot of bandwidth.

What is a leased line?

Ethernet first mile (EFM) leased lines use a combination of linked pairs of cables and clever signal processing technology to deliver fast speeds (up to 35Mbps) over a conventional copper circuit. Finally, there are fibre carrier (or Ethernet over fibre) leased lines which offer speeds up to 10Mbps.

On the positive side, what all this means is that you get guaranteed download speeds compared to a broadband connection. While the speeds may not seem ultra-quick in the light of some broadband offerings, having a dedicated circuit makes a big difference to everyday usability.

You also get faster upload speeds thanks to the synchronous circuit. In the age of the cloud where many of your critical business systems may be reliant upon an internet connection, this is a big advantage. It also makes for more reliable video calling and VoIP telephony.

Because the circuit is reserved for your use only, there are no contention ratios, so connections won’t slow down due to additional demand at peak times. This is a key consideration for internet-based businesses, especially if you intend running your own web servers. This also means that there are no usage caps on the amount of data you can transfer, so at times of peak demand you won’t face a big bill for exceeding your data allowance at the end of the month.

This also means that there are no usage caps on the amount of data you can transfer, so at times of peak demand you won’t face a big bill for exceeding your data allowance at the end of the month.

Crucial for businesses is reliability, and the service agreement for a leased line will usually come with some kind of service guarantee. Depending on the type of circuit it may be able to keep going – albeit at reduced speed – even when there’s a problem. Finally, the support is more business focused too, so you should find it easier and quicker to get problems resolved.

Costs

What is a leased line? costs

Of course, there are some downsides to opting for a leased line. The first is higher costs; leased line costs have come down in recent times thanks to improvements in technology, but on the whole, they are still more expensive than a broadband connection. The cost will vary according to your location as this determines the length of the circuit involved. The length of contract you’re willing to commit to with your service provider makes a difference too. By agreeing to a long-term deal you can make year-on-year savings, but make sure that you’re not tying your business to something that could catch you out later, should your situation change.

The cost will vary according to your location as this determines the length of the circuit involved. The length of contract you’re willing to commit to with your service provider makes a difference too. By agreeing to a long-term deal you can make year-on-year savings, but make sure that you’re not tying your business to something that could catch you out later, should your situation change.

Installing a leased line

Leased lines can take several months to install, whereas broadband can usually be installed in a couple of weeks. If you’re moving to new premises and need a leased line, therefore, you should plan well ahead to ensure you get the service you need. Part of the reason for the longer timescale is that installing a leased line is more complex than installing broadband. Whereas broadband uses an existing telephone line to deliver its service, a leased line on will require a new circuit to be installed. This means some work is likely to be required to hook up your premises to the service provider’s network.

Whereas broadband uses an existing telephone line to deliver its service, a leased line on will require a new circuit to be installed. This means some work is likely to be required to hook up your premises to the service provider’s network.

Whereas broadband uses an existing telephone line to deliver its service, a leased line on will require a new circuit to be installed. This means some work is likely to be required to hook up your premises to the service provider’s network.

What can a leased line do for you?

Now that we know what a leased line is, we need to understand why it might be the best choice. If you’re a small business then it’s likely that a normal ADSL service will be adequate for your needs. However, for larger organisations, a leased line begins to look more attractive.

It’s also useful if you need to work at times when broadband use is likely to be heavy – such as evenings and weekends – so you don’t suffer from traffic-related slowdowns

We’ve talked mainly about leased lines in terms of connecting to the internet. But they also have a role in connecting different parts of a business. If you have several sites reliant for their computing on a central data centre, for example. The asynchronous connection makes it easier and quicker to transfer large files around and will be better for data-hungry cloud applications, in addition to internet communication such as video calling and VoIP phone calls.

The asynchronous connection makes it easier and quicker to transfer large files around and will be better for data-hungry cloud applications, in addition to internet communication such as video calling and VoIP phone calls.

The asynchronous connection makes it easier and quicker to transfer large files around and will be better for data-hungry cloud applications, in addition to internet communication such as video calling and VoIP phone calls.

More and more companies are moving to a cloud-based, as-a-service model for their software. If your office package or your ERP system is not installed on your site and you rely on being able to access it via the internet, then a robust connection is essential. If you can’t access your systems then not only will you lose business but you’ll suffer damage to your reputation.

If you’re relying on the cloud, therefore, a leased line connection gives you additional peace of mind that you’ll be able to use your systems when you need them and enjoy consistent, reliable performance levels.

Call us now on 03333 316 857 for more information or a quote.