Service Level Agreements: Why Are They So Important?

Businesses who are looking to upgrade their ADSL connection may be considering products such as EFM, FTTC, FTTP, or a cheap leased line, but which is the best option? What’s considered to be the ‘best’ really depends upon a business’ own needs, requirements, and preferences, but one aspect that is important to note when comparing these internet products is that a leased line is currently the only product to include a service level agreement (SLA). But what exactly is an SLA, and why is it so important?

A service level agreement is one of the most prominent aspects which sets leased lines apart from other reasonably similar internet products, like FTTP, for example. Even a cheap leased line will come with an SLA, as the agreement is built into the price of all leased line products, even for a cheap leased line.

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Ofcom themselves state that while products such as FTTP and FTTC are often very reliable and very capable of meeting many business needs, particularly for small and medium sized enterprises, they simply can’t compete with a leased line SLA. They confirm that the service received with FTTP or FTTC is ‘best endeavoured’, which can vary in meaning depending on how a provider interprets the statement. A leased line on the other hand, even a cheap leased line, will have an SLA which clearly informs users how quickly faults on the line must be rectified, and how often a comprehensive, full service can be expected.

A service level agreement has the following advantages:

Target Availability –
This is what percentage of the time a business can expect the service to be up and running to its full potential. Quite often, a higher end leased line will come with a 100% target availability, while a cheap leased line should have at least a 99.95% target availability.

Outage Refund –
In many cases, an SLA will set out pre-arranged refund rates for business customers should a provider outage affect delivery of the service. This can ensure that businesses are getting the most for their money, and only paying for the service they receive.

Latency –
A leased line provider should include details of latency within their SLA, as this is often one of the biggest advantages for leased line customers. Many UK providers of cheap leased lines aim for a latency guarantee of a transmission time of 20 milliseconds or less.

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