Learn about leased line connectivity and the benefits your business could get by switching to a dedicated connection
There can’t be many businesses today that don’t use the internet to some extent. Almost everyone uses email or some form of eCommerce or online banking. But the demands we place on the web are increasing. Many companies now rely on the cloud for storage or to run systems; they use IP-based communication systems, and they host their own websites or intranets. All of this places greater emphasis than ever before on having a fast, reliable connection to the internet.
In the past the answer most people turned to for their connection was broadband. You may already have a broadband connection for your business and are finding that its limitations are becoming somewhat intrusive. If this is the case then is it time you thought about leased line connectivity?
Leased line technology
Although broadband is widely established for domestic use in the UK, it is very much geared to an environment in which most of the traffic is inbound. This is great at home where most traffic is browsing websites, streaming or downloading.
But it means that for business there are a few drawbacks. A leased line, by contrast, can offer you a dedicated connection to the web that’s entirely for the use of your business and overcomes the most common issues.
So, exactly what is leased line connectivity? It’s a dedicated data circuit which connects your premises directly to the internet. This is in contrast to broadband which routes data over a public network that is also used by lots of other people. That’s the difference in a nutshell, but there’s rather more to it than that. There are differences in the speeds available, in how the service is delivered and in how many people can reasonably share the connection at any given time.
A leased connection configuration will most likely be via a fibre optic circuit but it can also be delivered via technology like Ethernet first mile which is delivered over copper cables combined with some error correction technology. The advantages of having leased lines rather than broadband are not just in download speeds – these may in fact sometimes be slower – but that you have the same speed in both directions (known as synchronous connection). Plus there won’t be any contention from other businesses or individuals using the link, so it will maintain its performance levels whatever the time of day.
Leased line advantages
Let’s look at some of these advantages in a bit more detail. Because it’s synchronous, a leased line means that you get the same transfer speed for data in flowing in both directions. If you have systems in the cloud and your critical business processing is reliant on having an internet connection, this equal speed is a major advantage.
Heavy cloud use means you’re going to be uploading large amounts of data as well as downloading it. A synchronous circuit also makes for more reliable use of communication services like video calling and VoIP calling which are becoming increasingly popular amongst business users seeking to control communication costs.
Leased lines also have security benefits. By having a dedicated connection there’s less chance of information being intercepted in transit. Of course, you still need to secure data using additional methods including encryption to ensure maximum protection.
Remember too that there is no contention on a leased line, and therefore no competition for the circuit either. This is important for internet-based businesses, especially if you intend running your own website servers in-house, where a fast connection in both directions is vital. This also means that, unlike broadband, there aren’t any usage caps on the amount of data you are allowed to transfer, so at the busiest times you won’t be receiving an unexpected bill for going above your data allowance.
It’s worth pointing out here that even what is advertised as ‘unlimited’ broadband is usually subject to a ‘fair use’ clause. This means that the ISP can restrict the amount you’re able to download by throttling the connection if you use it too much. This can often be geared to peak traffic times too. There’s not much point in having unlimited data in the middle of the night, for example, when you really need it during the working day.
There are a few disadvantages which we should mention. Leased lines cost quite a bit more than broadband because you’re renting an exclusive connection. The cost also increases with the length of the circuit; the further you are from the data centre the more it will cost. A relatively slow leased line will often cost more than a faster broadband link. However, the leased line speed is guaranteed and uncontended, whereas the broadband speed can vary depending on various factors that are outside your control.
You, therefore, need to consider how important reliable, consistent connection is to your business. Also leased lines generally have longer lead times for installation, because where broadband is delivered over an existing phone line, a leased line requires a new circuit if you are moving to a new site. If you’re planning a move, therefore, you need to plan well in advance.
Now that we know what is a leased line connection we need to look at why it might be the right choice for your business. Business users tend to make more intensive use of the internet than domestic customers. This is partly because increasing numbers of companies are now becoming heavily reliant on cloud services for running critical business systems.
As-a-service delivery models for software ranging from office suites including Office 365 or Google Docs, through to more specialised applications like CRM and ERP are now commonplace. If you’ve gone, or are planning to go, down this route, then the guaranteed two-way speed delivered by a leased line connection is going to deliver positive benefits.
Up to now, we’ve talked a lot about internet connectivity, but leased lines are also a good choice where you have branch offices or depots that need to have access to your office network remotely. High bandwidth communication services such as video conferencing or VoIP calling will also be improved by using a leased line, particularly from the fact that upload and download speeds are equal.
What your business does is a key issue too. Should you need to upload large files then you’re going to benefit from having a synchronous connection giving equal upload and download speeds. You also need to think about the number of people who will be regularly using the connection within your company. If there are going to be more than just a few, you’ll reap benefits by installing a leased line instead of broadband.
It’s also a useful tool if you intend sharing information with your customers and suppliers as part of developing an integrated supply chain. The reliability and guaranteed speed of a leased line will deliver a better quality of experience while accessing your network and this, in turn, is likely to improve productivity across the board.
You also need to factor in how important internet connectivity is to your business. If you were to lose internet access for a time, what effect would it have? Would it be an inconvenience that you could wait around for a few hours? Or would you quickly begin to lose customers and consequently money? If the internet is essential to the well-being of your business then you need to ask yourself whether you can continue without leased line connectivity?
what are the questions you need to ask when looking to buy an internet connection?
- How many internet users does your business have?
- What do you and your staff use the internet for?
- How much would your business suffer without an internet connection?
- Where are your premises located?
- What budget do you have for connectivity?
- Do you regularly deal with large files?
- How much internet traffic do you generate?
- Do you host your own website?
- How important is a fast connection?
- What are the download and upload speeds?
Armed with the answers to these questions, you should be in a good position to decide whether a leased line is right for you.