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What is a leased line?
A leased line is an Ethernet (fibre) line businesses rent from Internet Service Providers. Most will use it as an internet connection because they are so reliable and can give a fast and stable connection. Some businesses will only need dark fibre which they then run their own network through.
They are a dedicated internet connection which provides a stable bandwidth up to 10Gbps. These dedicated lines, based on carrier Ethernet technology, range from 10Mb all the way up to 10Gb (10,000Mbps leased line). 100Mb lines are the most popular among UK businesses.
According to Wikipedia, Leased line Definition:
“a service contract between a provider and a customer whereby the provider agrees to deliver a symmetrical telecommunications line connecting one or more locations to each other, or the internet in exchange for a monthly rent.”
How does a leased line work?
Ethernet Lines are made out of fibre Ethernet cables and works by sending pulses of light down these cables. The data is sent by the speed of light so they feel faster and more reliable than traditional copper broadband options.
They are dedicated private networks that give you symmetric upload and download speeds and come with a host of guarantees and benefits. This is why so many UK businesses rely on them to deliver high speed and ultra reliable internet connections.
Leased lines operate by connecting two separate locations with a private line. This can be between your business and the supplier network, giving you access to faster internet speeds as a standard. It can also be a connection between two different locations in your business.
Leased lines are delivered by fibre optic cable and need to be physically installed. That means digging up the ground and laying the cable in some areas, something which can take anywhere between one and three months. A lot depends on how close the main fibre optic network is in the first place.
When you get a leased line quote you may hear about the size of the bearer. Eg. If you purchase 100Mb leased line you can choose to have that delivered on 100Mb bearer or 1Gb bearer. Each bearer will have a different price point so the key to deciding will mainly come down to scalability. If you won’t need more than 100Mb during your contract term then its more cost effective to use 100Mb bearer. However, if you know that you will require more bandwidth in the next 3 years you would need to consider the 1Gb bearer.
What are the advantages of a leased line?
There are numerous advantages but some of the main ones include:
- Dedicated data connectivity – the line is uncontended so no one shares with you & your speeds won’t fluctuate or drop during peak times, like they do with broadband.
- Faster Speeds – 10Mb right up to 10Gb of guaranteed speeds helps keep your business operating in the most efficient way
- Service Level Agreement – Leased lines come with a service level agreement (SLA) which gives you the % your line is guaranteed to be working at the speed you pay for. Most are above 99.99%, some will even be 100%.
- Scalability – The speeds available allow you to upgrade should your business grow and require more bandwidth.
- Support – As standard you would expect to get 24/7 proactive monitoring of the data network and target fix times of around 4 hours. Should anything ever go wrong the fix will be far quicker than a broadband line.
What are the disadvantages of a leased line?
The main disadvantages of leased lines include:
- Cost – Leased lines are cost effective when you factor in how much downtime costs you. However they are a jump up from broadband and start from around £150 per month.
- Install – Installs take around 45 days and will only usually have a charge if you take a year contract. There is also a gigabit voucher scheme you may be able to get which can give you money off.
- Contract length – standard contract term is 3 years, although you can get a 1 year contract, its just likely to be more expensive doing so.
Broadband vs Leased Line
Comparing leased lines and broadband is like comparing a push bike and a Ferrari – they both get you from one place to the other but there are big differences in quality and speed.
Leased Lines are faster, more reliable and dedicated to you. Business broadband is shared with up to 50 other businesses so if everyone is using it at the same time you will experience drop outs and poor speeds.
Are BT Leased Lines the best?
BT have a huge brand and have dominated the UK telecoms market for decades & are well-known for their broadband deals. But as America shows us daily – biggest does not always mean best. We often find BT leased lines can be more expensive than other providers selling the exact same product. Its not always the case as pricing depends on a number of factors like location, speed & what BT offers are available.
Leased line prices are just a small part of what makes a provider good & the requirements will be different for different businesses. Some will want a dedicated single point of contact, others will want a big brand, help implementing projects like guest wi fi.
BT business leased line circuits might be the best in your area & even if you know that to be true its worth doing a comparison to see what BT re-sellers can offer.
How much do BTnet leased lines cost?
BT leased line costs will always depend on where you are and what speed you need. BT pricing according to their website starts from £320pcm for 100Mb. We have seen 100Mbs start from £190pcm so that gives you an indication to how much monthly rental charges can vary between providers.
For the same fibre optic leased line, the same managed service, same upload and download speeds you are likely to pay more by going with BT. BTnet express is a cheaper option that BT offer but its speeds are capped to under 50Mb.
BT leased line advantages
There some advantages to having a BT leased line, including:
- 100% SLA – All providers will offer an SLA, most are above 99.99%. BT & Virgin both offer 100%, meaning if your internet connection ever goes down you start earning money back immediately.
- UK’s biggest telecom brand – Some people feel better being with a big brand and think that it means a more reliable service, factually that’s not true but if being with a big brand gives you peace of mind BT are a good ISP to consider.
- Strong Financials – As a company I can pretty confidently say BT are at no risk of going under. They make profits of more that £23billion a year.
BT leased line disadvantages
There are some downsides when it comes to getting a BT leased line:
- Costs – As mentioned above BT are usually up to 40% more expensive, just because they are BT. If cost is a key factor for you we would strongly urge you to compare the leased line market.
- Reputation – googling BT business reviews will show you what their existing customers think of the service they get and overall its pretty poor. Trustpilot & Reviews are the top two review sites and both have BT rated bad.
- Communication – The common complaint we get around BT is how hard it is to speak to someone. Our customers think this is because of how big they are you spend a long time speaking to people who can’t make any changes and know very little technically – standard call centre staff rather than connectivity experts you get at other providers.
Other leased line providers to consider
There are plenty of other providers to choose from. We have spent years working with some of the biggest and best ISP’s in the UK & would recommend the following :
- Virgin Media Leased Line
- Aspire Leased Lines
- Zen Leased Lines
- Vaioni Leased Lines
- TalkTalk Leased Lines
- Colt Leased Lines
- Spitfire Leased Line
In the UK ISP’s all use each others core networks so there is no single best provider. Most people decide based on price & the support they will get/need. The best thing to do is get a few quotes together, have a chat with a few providers and take it from there.
You may also be able to save money on your leased line by using other services you need like fibre broadband, cisco meraki, VoIP phones, cloud services & software. Leased line providers will all offer other services so if you bring it all to one place you stand to save on the leased line.
You can run a comparison using the form above or by giving us a call on 01923 594 060 & we would love to help you find your perfect leased line provider. All our services are completely free & we are confident we will get you the best price at your location for a dedicated leased line.
How much does a leased line cost?
Leased line costs are determined by bandwidth and location but there are other factors including network maps, POP locations, wires only or managed service and transit charges which can make prices differ dramatically.
For an average size business, you can expect to pay anything from £150 to £700 a month for your leased line package. The cost can increase depending on the size of your company, your location and the amount of work needed to install the dedicated line. Pricing factors include the speed of your leased line (the higher it is the more it costs) and the distance that your business is from the main carrier’s network.
If you have a multi-site business & require multiple leased lines this can help you negotiate a more cost effective leased line price for your site connectivity. This also is possible for business owners with 1 location if you have other services a leased line provider supplies, you can often negotiate the price & save up to 40% on your leased line cost.
Many IT professionals believe that all leased lines come with an install cost but that’s not usually the case. The standard term for a leased line contract is 3 years and will come with a free install. You can occur additional costs for the install after the site survey. These are called excess construction charges, known as ECC’s.
ECC’s are the costs to physically get a line to your location. The work carried out to do this may include digging up a road or going through someones property so it can often add to the lead time of installation & costs can be anything from a few pounds to a few hundred thousand. Should you have ECC charges applied at survey you have the right to cancel the leased line contract.
How much is 100Mb Leased Line?
100Mb leased line costs are impacted by the same factors mentioned above meaning costs will vary for each business. The cheapest we have seen is £180 per month with a free install for a fully managed line on 100Mb bearer.
100Mb leased lines should cost in the region of £180-£280pcm in most major cities. Most will have a free install on the standard 36 month contract and come with a service level agreement of at least 99.97%. This means if your internet connection ever dropped below that percentage you would start earning money back off your next bill.
BT Business & Virgin Media Business have 100% Service Level Agreements on their fibre optic networks. Both providers have the capacity to offer competitive pricing, although in our experience BT leased line costs tend to be more expensive.
Can I get a leased line?
The short answer is yes anyone can get a leased line installed anywhere in the UK. However, the availability of Ethernet networks and the cost to install comes down to the bandwidth needed and your business location.
If you have the right funding any leased line provider will be happy to dig up as much of the road as needed to get your line installed, providing the landlord agrees.If you are closer to a UK telecoms suppliers network then the cost of your leased line will be lower – the further away you are the more it will cost.
Some providers will extend their own network to businesses in rural locations and cover part of the cost themselves because it will enable them to acquire all the customers in that area. The easiest way to know how much it would cost is to check the availability of leased lines in your area.
Factors that impact leased line costs
As mentioned above there are numerous factors that have an impact on the cost of your leased line so we are going to look closer at the main ones:
- Distance from the providers Point of presence (PoP) – For rural businesses distance is the biggest factor in what leased line pricing you can get. If no providers are close to your area it will cost any of them to supply, which you then see reflected in the monthly cost. However, if you are within 20 miles of a providers PoP you are likely to get a good price.
- Bandwidth needed – The speed of your leased line has an impact on price and quite simply the higher the speed the more you can expect to pay. The bearer you choose can also impact this. If you had 100Mb leased line delivered on 100Mb bearer it would be cheaper than having 100Mb leased line delivered on 1Gb bearer.
- Wires only or managed services – Having a wires only leased line is a lower cost but you should only consider this is you have the capability to configure your own network & monitor the line. The majority of the leased lines we compare for customers are fully managed which means the internet is supplied with them & the ISP monitors the line 24/7.
- Contract length – Standard contracts for Ethernet lines are 3 years, but providers will also offer 1 year or 5 year terms too. 3 and 5 year contracts both usually have a free install, whereas the one year contract will likely have a cost to install.
- How much business you can bring the provider – This isn’t spoken of much in the industry but can have a huge impact on the price you can negotiate to. If you have multiple sites, will be expanding your business, other IT services or multiple sites the provider is more likely to drop their margins to win your business. The more you have to negotiate with the lower you can expect pricing to be, providing you can negotiate. We have even seen a provider give a company a free leased line before so we would urge you to consider your IT needs as a whole when looking at your connectivity.
- Grants and funding – The government often does schemes that enable you to get money off of install costs. There are also grants from local councils from time to time so would recommend researching if there is anything available for you & weather you qualify. If you are unsure we would love to help.
The Best Leased Line Providers
Leased line services can be the backbone for businesses who rely on their internet connection. Customers will often ask us who is the best leased line provider & in truth there is no “best”. Some are most cost effective than others, some will have a better customer service team, some will come with better fix times.
Choosing the best leased line provider is easier if you do a comparison & factor in the pricing then research the top 3 or 4 that come up & go with what one suits your business the most. We have reviewed some of the best known below & included some of our own favourites to help you make your decision.
- BTnet/BT Business Leased Lines – The biggest brand in business telecoms. We all know the giant that is BT & although their wholesale services can be highly cost effective, that’s not always the case for direct pricing to customers. They used to own BT openreach who install all the UK’s leased lines but the two companies are now completely separate.
- Virgin Media Business Leased Lines – None of the big providers are know for competitive pricing when selling direct. But Virgin certainly disrupted the market and their strategy the last few years had tended to centre around deals or special offers on leased line pricing. Most notable would be the 50Mb leased line for under £150 a month. However, Virgin are known to change pricing and have a very long install for many customers.
- TalkTalk Business Leased Lines – TalkTalks dedicated circuits service level agreement is 99.995% which is slightly less than the other big two. Like BT they have a reputation in the industry of being quite expensive but a good alternative from BT for anyone who requires a t1 provider with a large core network. Delivery time is 65 days which is slightly longer than BT, Colt etc.
- SSE Telecoms – When I first entered the industry I was shocked the energy company was so big in telecoms. They target enterprise companies and partners so are less likely to give direct pricing for a single circuit but could be the underlying provider from any of the other providers listed on here.
- Zen Internet – Zen have over 400 PoP’s in the UK and have become respected in the industry as a solid re-seller. They can’t always match pricing of some other well-known re-sellers but have generally good reviews on service and support.
- Daisy Telecoms – We have heard the most horror stories about Daisy & BT. They have a fake comparison website mimicking this one after we partnered with them & pretty bad customer reviews. They are BT’s biggest re-seller but the reputation in the industry isn’t as good as others so for that reason we wouldn’t recommend them.
- Aspire Technology Solutions – Aspire are often like a breath of fresh air when it comes to selling leased lines. They use a common sense approach and always try to bring customers the best value & excellent technical support. Extremely competitive on pricing & great reviews
- Vaioni – Vaioni have grown and are another re-seller like Aspire who come up with cost effective solutions and put the customer first. Pricing tends to be competitive and they recently secured a large investment & hope to become one of the UK’s most powerful software defined networks, having the ability to service 80% of UK businesses.
How to find the best leased line provider
The reviews above are a handful of providers available to supply dedicated internet access, but there are more capable providers. To find your perfect leased line provider we would recommend doing a comparison and doing research on any you consider.
As standard, all providers should be offering a SLA of 99.995% or above, 4-6 hour fix time guarantee and competitive pricing
SDSL stands for ‘Symmetric digital subscriber line’ and provides symmetrical, uncontended internet over copper- similar to Ethernet first mile.
These SDSL services are being phased out as they typically supplied bandwidth up to 8Mb and were very expensive. Ethernet first mile could supply typically 10Mb at a lower cost which has in turn, pretty much phased out SDSL.
How to get the best leased line quote
If you are looking for a new leased line connection or to upgrade your existing one you may already know the availability & price can vary substantially between providers. All will be offering the same dedicated internet with a similar service level agreement (SLA).
Getting competitive pricing is important for everyone, but it seems providers trip over themselves giving enterprise businesses heavily discounted internet leased lines while the SME’s need to figure out how to get the best quote.
To add to this – most so called leased line comparison websites are actually just providers posing as a comparison site. The only thing they compare is the tail circuit & regardless of which quote you go ahead with you end up with the same provider. We are the only genuine UK leased line comparison site & don’t care if or who you decide to buy your line with.
Don’t only consider BT, Virgin & TalkTalk
BTnet, Virgin Media Business & TalkTalk business are all huge names in the industry & I’m sure you have heard of them. However, biggest rarely means best & even more rarely means best value. They all have their own strong points but generally speaking you will pay more & can get better customer service with other providers.
If you know BT has the best leased line pricing in your area or you know they own the fibre optic cables around you its likely a re-seller will be able to sell you a BT line much cheaper than buying from them direct. BT’s wholesale prices tend to be really competitive, whereas their prices direct to customers are often well over-priced.
Know the bandwidth you need
One of the biggest factors impacting your leased line quote is the bandwidth you require. As long as you don’t need a 1 year contract expect free installations for your dedicated internet connection. The speeds vary and there are 3 bearer sizes too. If you go for a higher bearer the cost will be higher so we would always advise to stick to what you need.
The upload and download speeds are always symmetrical on a business leased line and are available in 10Mb to 100Mb(in 10mb increments), 100Mb to 1gb (in 100Mb increments) & 1gb to 10gb (in 1Gb increments).
Most contracts are for 3 years so we would also recommend future proofing your internet access by working out what you are likely to need in the next 3 years. Are you planning to grow? Bring more to/from the cloud? Open another site to connect? All questions that are worth having answers to before signing a contract.
Compare trusted leased line providers
Comparing providers used to be a challenging task for business owners, gathering quotes from multiple suppliers & being hounded by connectivity consultants. However, we changed that by enabling UK business owners to compare leased line market by just filling in a simple enquiry & allowing us to do all the work.
You get the top 3 providers in your area who then quote you directly and its then down to you to make a decision.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
We know its not the done thing for most of us Brits but telecoms is one of the industries there is usually room for negotiation. Its especially important if you have more than one site or other services you can bring it to the same provider.
Providers want your business and many will accept a lower margin on your custom to secure a long term customer. Use this to your advantage if you can & haggle providers down on whatever they initially quote. If you have no other services or products you can always use timescales for urgency. For Example – If I signed by tomorrow whats the best price you could give me?
Broadband vs Internet Leased Line
Business broadband connections and an internet leased line both provide users internet access for a fixed cost but that’s where most of their similarities end. Bandwidth, cost & reliability are some of the biggest differences so lets break down some of the key differences:
- Cost – The biggest factor considered for businesses looking for a new internet connection is cost. Leased lines can cost 10 times that of business broadband, depending on bandwidth required & your location. However, reading this should help you understand why & how it can save your business money.
- Speed – Video conferencing, VoIP, Cloud business applications & EPOS tills are just some of the reasons businesses now use more bandwidth than ever before. Leased Lines can support the heaviest data users, boasting symmetric upload & download speeds of up to 10Gbps. Traditional Business broadband will max out with upload speeds of around 24 Mbps but download might only be 1.2 Mbps. The advancement of fibre broadband means that you can also now get business broadband which will advertise speeds of 300Mb. Actual speeds received are likely to be much less than that.
- Reliability – This is the biggest difference between the two. A dedicated line, such as an internet leased line, is the most reliable connection you can get. Its used by only you and comes with guarantees and even a business grade SLA. So if your connection or speeds drop below what you expect you start earning money back off your next bill. They even cover times to fix should there be a fault. Broadband however comes with no guarantees. Expect 80Mb but get 2Mb? Nothing you can do about it. We have seen customers who have waiting over 6 weeks for a fault to be fixed. Could your business go 6 weeks with no internet connection?
Advantages of a Dedicated Connection
Having a dedicated internet leased line comes with more advantages than just speed and reliability, including :
- Dedicated to one user – Unlike broadband leased lines are dedicated to you. This means during peak times your speeds won’t be impacted by other users, which is one of the biggest bug bears of business broadband lines. Np speed fluctuation from sharing with 50 other businesses & home users in your area.
- Designed for businesses – Leased lines come with business grade SLA’s and support because they are made for and sold to businesses. Broadband is sold more to home users, there are some businesses who still successfully operate on a DSL connection but its usually micro-businesses or those who don’t need the internet to operate, like sole traders.
- Copper Vs Fibre – Even connections advertised as fibre broadband are likely to have copper infrastructure to your premises, which means the speeds and reliability will degrade over distance you are from the cabinet. Leased Lines are full Ethernet lines direct from the exchange to you – no sharing, no dated copper – just fast,reliable internet.
- Latency & Jitter – These phrases might mean little to you but IT professionals will understand why they may be applicable to your business. Latency is data transmission delays & jitter is the variation in the latency. This will matter more to businesses who use their internet to do video conferencing or have VoIP phone lines – anything that happens real time & requires bandwidth. Leased lines have much lower latency & jitter than broadband so is the preferred connection for most businesses who use these technologies.
- Better Customer Support – Internet Leased Lines come with business grade support including 24/7 pro-active network monitoring, 4-6 hour fix time targets, 99.99%+ SLA, QoS to allow data prioritisation, static IP addresses as standard & more. Business broadband doesn’t so if things do go wrong it can be tough getting things sorted with minimal impact to your business.
Disadvantages of a Dedicated Connection
Internet leased lines are not for every businesses so its important to understand why you may not need one:
- Cost – The most obvious reason is cost. Leased Lines start from £150pcm but can be up to thousands depending on speed & location. So many sole traders or micro-businesses simply cannot afford that cost each month.
- Install times – Broadband can usually be installed in a couple of weeks. Dedicated Internet Leased Lines take longer than this as its laid for you rather than connecting you to whats already there. Leased lines are usually installed in 40-65 days depending on the provider used.
- Harder to get rough pricing – Broadband will cost between £20-£60 in most locations. Leased lines can be anywhere from £150 to £900 in most places but the pricing is all bespoke to your location and bandwidth needed. If you are in London or Manchester or a well connected city you are likely to be looking at the lower end of pricing but the best way to get a quote is by doing a comparison.
Dedicated leased lines have surged in popularity amongst UK businesses in recent years. Despite the advances in broadband speeds with services like FTTC & FTTP, dedicated lines remain the most popular option for any business. They are especially important to those who’s internet connection is critical to the success of their business.
Small businesses can avoid these connections because they believe them to be expensive. Comparing the cost alone leased lines are about 10 times the cost of broadband. However, its simply not the case if you factor in the benefits of a dedicated line:
- No Downtime – downtime can be a serious and costly problem for any sized business. Broadband connections are shared with other businesses and homes in your location. When too many people use the line at the same time it starts buffering and dropping out completely. Most of us can cope with this during our latest Netflix binge but the impact on a company can be hundreds of thousands of pounds a year lost revenue.
- Easy to Scale – Leased Lines go from 10Mb to 10GB and you pick the speed you need. Whatever speed you decide you need is what you get, but should you ever need more its easy to upgrade to a higher bandwidth line. Simply need to contact your provider to arrange.
- Guaranteed Speeds – When you buy business broadband you may be shocked to find your expected 76Mb line gives you less than 20Mb once installed. With fibre leased lines you get the exact speed you purchase – guaranteed.
- Superior Support –