Leased Line Definition – What you Need to Know
If downtime would cost your business custom, a leased line could be the perfect option for your business.
Most people think of a connection to the internet as being ‘broadband’, but while this is the most common connection type, there are other alternatives that are better for business users. Most common of these is the leased line. But what is a leased line and how does it differ from a broadband connection?
To understand this we first need to understand what broadband is. Whether it’s using a copper or fibre connection, broadband connects you to the data centre of your service provider via the public telephone network. This means that once the connection leaves your premises, it’s shared with other people. This has implications for performance, particularly at peak times when more people are online.
Broadband connections are also asynchronous, which is why you’ll sometimes hear it called ADSL (asynchronous digital subscriber line). What this means in practice is that the speed of downloading data to your machine is much faster than that of uploading to the web. While this is fine for domestic use where you’re streaming movies or viewing web pages, it can present a problem for business users who need to upload and transfer large files or who rely upon cloud-based systems for their critical business software.
What is a leased line?
The alternative to broadband is to have a leased line. This is a dedicated connection between you and the ISP’s data centre. It can be used to connect other places too, but we’ll get to that later. The leased line definition is that it’s a circuit rented solely for your use. This has several advantages over ADSL.
Firstly, there’s no contention with other users, so the same speed is guaranteed at all times regardless as to how many other people are trying to access streaming, downloads and other services. Secondly, a leased line is synchronous, which means that data moves at the same speed in both directions.
As we mentioned above, it’s also important to note that a leased line doesn’t have to be about accessing the internet. You can opt for a leased line connection between your company’s own sites. This is useful if your business is distributed over a number of locations; has its offices separate from its factory or warehouse; or has its data centre in a different place from other operations.
You can, of course, add internet traffic to this if you want, making it a versatile option. In addition, it’s possible to manage the bandwidth usage so that a fixed portion of the line’s capacity is used for internet, another chunk for VoIP calls, and the remainder of corporate data. This allows you to control the performance of the circuit and how it’s used according to your needs.
As we’ve already seen, broadband can offer a fast download speed but it’s combined with slower uploads. Part of the leased line definition is that speeds are the same in both directions. Most popular leased line speeds are 2Mbps, 10Mbps and 100Mbps. It’s possible to get much faster connections – up to 10Gbps – if you have deep pockets.
When comparing lines it’s easy to see leased lines as slower and more expensive than broadband, but you have to take account of the fact that the circuit is completely dedicated to your use, and that its speed is guaranteed.
When it comes to leased lines cost they will generally be more expensive than broadband because you’re getting a dedicated connection.
The cost will also depend upon your location and thus the length of the circuit involved, in addition to the length of contract you’re willing to sign with your service provider. You may be able to make savings by agreeing to a long-term contract but you need to be sure that this meets the needs of your business. You don’t want to be hit with penalty charges for breaking the contract should you decide to move to a new office, for example.
Leased lines are, for the most part, delivered in much the same way as broadband. That means that there are three types of leased line, via copper cable, by fibre, or by a combination of the two. In the case of copper, connections will be slower, although the use of Ethernet first mile (EFM) technology combining twisted pair circuits with signal processing technology can deliver better speeds and improved reliability when compared to a conventional copper circuit.
Most commonly today the leased line circuit will use fibre optics. As with broadband, this will usually be fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) where the fibre optic terminates at a street cabinet and the rest of the distance to your premises is carried over a copper cable. The performance will vary a little depending on how far you are from the nearest cabinet, but there’s less variation than would be experienced on a fully copper circuit depending on its distance from the exchange. FTTC is now available across a significant percentage of the country so shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re in a particularly rural location.
The fastest connections are delivered by fibre to the premises (FTTP), where the fibre circuit comes directly into your building. This isn’t available everywhere, however, and at the moment is generally restricted to urban areas.
Pros and cons
It’s important to look at leased line advantages and disadvantages as they are not going to be the right solution for every business. Let’s look at the advantages first:
* Guaranteed download speeds compared to a broadband connection.
* Faster upload speeds attributable to a synchronous circuit.
* No contention so connections won’t slow down due to demand at peak times.
* No usage caps on the amount of data you can transfer.
* Greater reliability for business-critical systems.
* Better support as a leased line is a business focused product.
Now let’s look at the downside of leased lines:
* Higher costs, although leased line costs have fallen in recent times they are still more expensive than a broadband connection.
* Longer lead times: leased lines can take several months to install, whereas broadband can usually be installed in a couple of weeks.
* Complex installation: installing a leased line is more complex than installing broadband. This is because broadband uses an existing telephone line to deliver the service. A leased line, on the other hand, will require a new circuit to be installed. This means that some work will be required to hook up your premises to the service provider’s network.
Now that we’ve looked at the leased line definition, how it works, what technology underpins it and what it costs, it’s time to consider the business case for this type of circuit. There are four main ways that businesses use leased lines:
* To connect to the internet.
* To link PCs and servers located on different sites.
* To make phone calls either between sites or to a wider network using VoIP.
* To enable remote workers to connect to their work PCs reliably and quickly.
We’ve already seen that a dedicated leased line provides consistent speeds and that it’s dedicated for your use. This means that if your business relies heavily on an internet connection for it’s day to day activity you can be sure your operation won’t suffer when other people or businesses are using the internet.
The other major advantage for business is the synchronous nature of the connection. This has many upsides. Firstly, it gives remote offices and field workers more reliable access to central IT systems. People are able to send large files to other users or upload them to the cloud without delays, so a leased line is a good choice if you need to transfer large data files regularly as part of your business. This could include files for printing, machine tool instructions and more. It also gives you the option to host your website internally on your own server, rather than relying on an external hosting company.
Increasingly businesses rely on cloud-based services. Whether this is for backing up data or running critical systems from an as-a-service provider, you need a reliable connection and a leased line can offer this.
It’s increasingly common to use VoIP telephone services to cut costs. This is particularly useful for companies which trade internationally and need to regularly call overseas. Once again, a leased line offers the reliability and speed needed for this technology to work and deliver maximum benefit. Video conferencing is another increasingly popular business tool and one which consumes a good deal of bandwidth. A leased line can ensure your conferences run smoothly with no delays or break-up in the feed that can be experienced over ADSL.
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For more information on the best leased line solution for your business, contact leasedline.co.uk and speak to our team directly by calling us on 0808 115 4281 or get in touch online today.Call Us On 0808 115 4281