Leased Line VS Broadband- Which one is right for your business?

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What is a Leased Line? 

A leased line is a dedicated, fixed-bandwidth data connection. It allows data-hungry businesses to have a reliable, high-quality internet connection with guarantees of upload and download speed, uptime and resilience. Leased lines can be used to connect 2 premises together (Point to Point Leased Line), but in this article we are discussing leased lines in the context of providing Internet connectivity.

There are 2 types of Internet leased lines available- Ethernet First Mile and Fibre Optic. Fibre Optic Leased Lines deliver dedicated optical fibre cable into your premises. Ethernet First Mile Leased Lines work by combining a number of telephone lines. EFM Leased Lines are now an old technology that is being phased out ahead of the ISDN switch off. 
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What is Broadband? 

Broadband refers to various high-capacity transmission technologies that transmit data, voice, and video across long distances at high speeds. The two most common broadband connection services available today are Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).  

Fibre to the Premises broadband uses fibre-optic cable for entire journey from the local exchange to your premises. Fibre to the Cabinet broadband utilises fibre-optic cables from the local exchange to your nearest street cabinet but legacy copper from the street cabinet to your premises. 

Fibre optic cables provide superior speeds and stability compared to legacy copper and they are also far less susceptible to interference as they do not conduct electrical currents making them resistant to fire, electromagnetic interference, lightning and radio signals unlike copper cabling.

ADSL broadband has been widely used in the UK in the past but is now being phased out ahead of the ISDN/PSTN Switch Off.

Internet Speed and Bandwidth explained

Bandwidth refers to the volume of data that can be transferred within a specific period. Speed refers to the rate of data transfer. It can be easy to confuse the two terms as both are typically expressed in a measurement of the flow of data per second- often megabits per second (Mbit/s). Your bandwidth capacity will be constrained by external factors including the physical infrastructure leading up to your premises and the capabilities of your ISP. Bandwidth is shared across your employees/devices. 
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The differences between Leased Line and Broadband Connectivity:

Installation Time

The leased line installation timescale is much longer than broadband services. Leased Line install times are typically up to 90 days compared to up to 10 days for FTTP and FFTC broadband installation. That said, if a leased line is the right service for your business there are temporary solutions that can provide connectivity until install is completed.

Maximum Speeds

Leased Line Speeds:
Fibre Leased lines can provide symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 10Gbit/s (that’s 10,000Mbit/s!) delivered via a dedicated optical fibre cable into your premises.

Full Fibre (FTTP) Speeds:
Full Fibre services currently offer symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 1Gbit/s. 160Mbit/s Full Fibre connections are available for businesses that would not utilise a full gigabit connection at a lower price point and a range of speed options are available in between. 

Fibre (FTTC) Speeds:
FTTC speeds max out at 76Mbit/s download and 20Mbit/s upload. As part of the FTTC service is still provided by legacy copper the maximum speeds deliverable are limited. The speed you receive will be impacted by the distance your premises is from the nearest street cabinet and it is also a contended service.

ADSL Speeds: 
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) offers speeds up to a theoretical maximum download speed of 24Mbit/s, but more commonly up to 16Mbit/s. ADSL broadband connections are no longer fast enough to support the majority of businesses. 

Service Level Agreements

Leased lines come hand-in-hand with a high standard SLA (service level agreement). In practice this means that if there’s a problem you’ll be up and running again quickly, typically within five hours. 
Broadband services typically operate a best efforts service with no guaranteed fix time. Our Full Fibre broadband service comes with a business grade repair SLA of 8 business hours Monday-Friday 9am-5pm excluding bank holidays. If an issue arises they are typically fixed very quickly, but if your business cannot afford the risk of extended downtime then it may be worth considering a leased line. 

Latency

In broadband terms, latency measures the time it takes to send and receive a packet of data. Having low latency is important for IP Telephony, Video Conferencing, VPN's, Cloud Services and more. A leased line connection provides low latency of below 10ms. The latest Full Fibre connections normally reduce latency to below 15ms, however leased lines often provide a SLA against latency whereas there is usually no guarantee with Full Fibre. 

Contended VS Uncontended

Contention is where the back-haul connection from the local exchange is shared with other customers. Broadband services are usually contented, whereas leased line connections are uncontended giving your business exclusive use. With contended services you share bandwidth with other customers, meaning you may notice a drop in speed at peak times. With uncontested services your bandwidth should remain stable (although it can flex up if required). 

Scalability

Broadband services have a maximum bandwidth that will not change over the course of a contract. Leased lines on the other hand are ordered with 2 defined speeds- one being the bandwidth required on day 1, and the second being the maximum speed you can flex to without changing to another service (up to a maximum of the underlying bearer speed- the physical line that connects to your premises). Leased lines are the most scalable form of Internet connectivity. 

Availability

FTTC is available to 98% of the country, making it widely available. The rollout of FTTP is still in progress, with Full Fibre now available to approximately 45% of the UK. If Full Fibre is not already available to your premises, the chances are it will be over the next couple of years. Leased Lines are available everywhere in the UK, if you can afford it. If you’re in a rural area then this type of connectivity will come at a premium and may be out of reach of many.

Summary 

When considering whether a Leased Line or Broadband would be best suited to your business there are many things to consider. Both broadband and leased lines each have their advantages and disadvantages. Which service would best suit your business is dependent on your requirements. 

FTTP provides ultrafast broadband without breaking the bank, bridging the gap between residential and commercial broadband. If you need a fast connection but don’t require a water tight SLA it’s definitely worth considering and shouldn’t be discounted if it is available to you. 

FTTC is a cost-effective and reliable Internet connection capable of supporting small businesses. Many businesses are now upgrading from FTTC to FTTP as business bandwidth requirements are increasing with the growth of IP Telephony and Cloud Services, however if FTTP is not available to your premises yet then FTTC can be a great option to support a small business with moderate Internet usage.

Leased Lines offer premium, synchronous, up to 10Gbit/s connectivity but it comes with a higher price tag. If your organisation relies on its internet connection to remain operational then a leased lines could be the best option for you. The strict SLAs that accompany leased lines ensure connectivity will be fast and reliable 365 days of the year.

For help determining the best connection for your business, or for more information about Leased Lines, FTTP or FTTC, please contact us on 0330 122 0550 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..