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GEA vs EFM – Which is the Best Choice For You?

Discover the key differences between GEA and EFM and find out which is right for your business

When your small business is growing, at some point the broadband connection won’t be good enough. If you’re looking to host applications and need a symmetric connection. Perhaps you’re using video conferencing increasingly. Internet access becomes critical for your business, and you need a reliable connection backed by a service level agreement. This article aims to analyse GEA vs EFM, to determine which networking solution is best for you.

To a higher quality managed connection, you need to consider your options. Two real contenders are GEA (Generic Ethernet Access) and EFM (Ethernet First Mile), and you need to know: when it comes to GEA vs EFM, which is right for you?

In this article we will briefly cover the technology behind GEA and EFM, and look at the benefits each will bring to your business. Highlighting the key differences between GEA and EFM, to help you come to an informed decision.

What does GEA mean?

GEA stands for Generic Ethernet Access. So, what does GEA mean? Well, it refers to an Ethernet over Fibre (or copper) to the cabinet, or EoFTTC. It’s a leased line geared towards small businesses, with lower setup & ongoing costs than a ‘full’ Fibre Ethernet connection. GEA achieves a low-cost, high-level service by using existing fibre or copper infrastructure. GEA routes traffic over Ethernet, rather than the far busier broadband layer. This allows GEA to be delivered without substantial installation or maintenance costs.

GEA connections are managed by the provider and are backed by SLAs. This means an expected level of uptime, usually in excess of 99%, as well as estimated times usually within hours.

High-speed connections, typically between 2Mbps and 20Mbps, with symmetrical upload and download speeds. GEA lines are uncontended, meaning your business is the only entity on the line, so don’t slow down at peak times.

Compared to other business internet solutions, the installation lead times required for a GEA connection are quite low, typically around 10 business days. It’s extremely competitively priced, with low installation fees, combined with low monthly costs.

What does EFM Mean?

While GEA relies on existing fibre Ethernet infrastructure, Ethernet First Mile, or EFM, offers far more flexibility. EFM connections use paired copper cables to connect the business site to the local fibre network, then back to the provider’s core network.

EFM connections are backed by SLAs, with expected uptimes around 99.9%, and estimated fix times of less than 7 hours. They provide high-speed connections, speed varies based on the number of copper pairs used. Speeds are typically between 2Mbps and 35Mbps, allowing scalability for your business as it grows.

Due to the distance many EFM connections need to cover, installation times are typically around 45 business days, with substantial installation costs. Ongoing costs, however, are still quite low compared to other leased lines.

The Shared Benefits of GEA and EFM

GEA and EFM clearly fill a similar niche and have substantial benefits over ‘off the shelf’ business broadband solutions, including the service level agreement, line management, and line quality.

Potentially the biggest benefit both EFM and GEA offer, compared to standard connections, is that they’re backed by SLAs. A ‘managed internet connection’ means the service provider is responsible for the infrastructure providing your connection, and actively monitors it. With a managed connection, provider often know the connection is down before you do, and will quickly give a fix time estimate, often within the same business day.

The managed aspect of the connection ties in directly with the SLA you’ll need to consider when picking a provider. The SLA will detail factors like estimated uptime and fix time, and service guarantee, so if you fall below a certain level of uptime, the provider will compensate you.

Line Quality Benefits

Line quality is the other major benefit of a leased line, compared to broadband. With broadband, asymmetric bandwidths means lower upload speeds than download. This means you’ll struggle to host services for clients, facilitate home or offsite work for employees, use video conferencing services, or share data. GEA and EFM provide symmetrical connections, meaning upload rates are equal to download speed. Upload speeds are far greater than any broadband solution, and business’ will be much more able to take advantage of online services.

Also contention ratio is typically undefined for standard broadband. Broadband connections are contended or shared, often with many end users on the same connection. Line speeds will often be much lower than what you are paying for, as the line is shared with others. Uncontended means you are the only one on the connection – there is no bandwidth sharing required, so no risk of slowdowns.

At, we can provide your business with the ideal GEA and EFM leased line solution. Identify a leased line speed that reflects your requirements below!

GEA vs EFM: The Key Differences

EFM and GEA fit very similar small business-focused niches, making the ‘GEA vs EFM’ debate come down to the wire. There are, however, differences – in resilience and typical service levels, speed, cost and availability. In terms of service level availability, EFM comes out on top. Similarly, EFM tends to come with faster target fix times in comparison to GEA.

These differences may only be small, ie the SLA may only equate to a difference of 4 hours of downtime a year between the two products. So consider how much your business loses with every hour of downtime – an extra half a day each year could easily outstrip the cost of the connection.

Speed differences are also tiny, with EFM again coming out on top with a peak of 35Mbps. However, EFM can comes with substantial installation costs, due to the amount of cable that typically needs to be run. These costs can be in excess of a full year’s service costs. EFM is also more expensive per month.

GEA avoids the majority of the installation cost, and delivers it’s service at a slightly lower cost per month. The biggest difference between the two services is availability. GEA takes advantage of existing fibre networks, keeping costs lower, but this can means there are areas where it’s unavailable. EFM is much more widely available because of the extra cable you’re paying for in the installation cost.

Regardless of the size of your business, the team will be able to identify a solution that matches both your budget and requirements.


At the end of the day, your ‘GEA vs EFM’ choice will probably come down to availability. The upfront costs of EFM are substantial, and the benefits it delivers over GEA are quite slim. Either one will provide immense value for a growing business over an off-the-shelf broadband package.

If you’re considering opting for Ethernet First Mile as your business’ connection solution, start comparing the best EFM deals available online.

Otherwise, learn more if you are looking for a competitive GEA leased line deal.

For more information on the best leased line solution for your business, get in touch online today.