What is a leased Line?
To find out what a leased line is we can just type our search term into Wikipedia, but let’s be honest here – sometimes we leave Wikipedia a little – or even a lot – more confused than when we went in.
Let’s use the example of leased lines. If you type ‘leased line’ into Wikipedia, here’s the first sentence:
“A leased line is a private bidirectional or symmetric telecommunications line between two or more locations provided in exchange for a monthly rent”.
While this sort of thing will cause some people’s ears to perk up like a dog that just heard the word ‘walk’, for the majority of us, it doesn’t really mean much, and it doesn’t really leave us feeling any more clear about what a leased line really is.
Understanding What is a leased line?
A leased line bypasses the traditional ADSL way of getting an internet connection through traditional telephone lines.It’s a private and dedicated line that goes direct from the provider to you.
Most companies will use one to deliver a stable and reliable internet connection but some may just use it to transfer data on an intranet between their site and a data centre for example.
Since the Covid pandemic hit we have seen a change in the way businesses now operate, with much more opting to allow staff to work from home. This comes with drawbacks as depends on the employee’s home internet connection, which is easier for hackers to gain access to important company information & files.
This is because its a shared connection so it uses the public network to send data. So to better understand why companies use dedicated lines we have highlighted some of the main reasons businesses make the switch to ethernet.
Advantages of Fibre Leased Lines
1.Private & Reliable
A leased line is a ‘private’ connection, either between two or more of your offices or between your office and your telecommunications provider. If you’ve ever noticed that your business broadband is running slowly during peak times, the reason is that other businesses are all competing for bandwidth.
You may notice this more when you are at home using broadband, especially around 6-8pm & at weekends when people are at home more. The contention is often what causes buffering when you watch your favourite Netflix show or browse social media
Business broadband isn’t a private connection, it’s shared with others and you’ll have a ‘contention ratio’, which is usually around 20:1 for business customers.
This means you’ll be sharing your bandwidth with 19 other users. A Leased line is a dedicated & private connection, it’s uncontended. You get to keep all the bandwidth for yourself – no sharing necessary for a fixed monthly fee.
When you’re browsing through business broadband offers, what do you pay attention to? Download speed is hugely important – it’s what makes sure we’re not stuck watching jumpy, buffering content or causing you staff to have an excuse to do nothing.
Good download speed is still vital, but upload speeds are the new ‘in’ thing. Unlike business broadband, a leased line offers a symmetrical connection, which means that download speeds and upload speeds are the same, rather than one trailing behind the other.
What this means is that your business can fully utilize the latest technologies, like VoIP services and conferencing.
Upload speeds are important for some businesses more than others. If you need to upload data in the cloud for example of CAD drawings are a particularly data-heavy file that architects and engineers often need to use and upload to a system. These need to be uploaded quickly and easily & can be a real struggle if your upload speed is low or unstable.
The other important thing about leased lines symmetrical speeds is they are guaranteed and don’t fluctuate during peak times. You get exactly the speed you pay for and the best thing? If it drops providers will start paying you. This is down to the SLA or service level agreement that leased lines come with.
3. SLA – Service Level Agreements
All Leased line providers will have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) in place. An SLA will consist of terms that need to be met within the contract length. These terms include guaranteed speed, a set fix time (normally around 5 hours, but will depend on the provider), no downtime etc.
Each provider aims to reach 99.99% SLA, some say that they can reach 100% but that is virtually impossible. If a provider doesn’t reach these terms to a satisfactory standard, for example, decrease in speed, then you might be able to claim compensation.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed something that seems a little strange: the Wikipedia definition of leased lines says ‘telecommunications’, rather than ‘internet’. The reason for this is leased lines aren’t just for internet.
Don’t get us wrong – when someone mentions a leased line they’re usually talking about their internet connection, but a leased line can also be used to carry most types of data, including phone line data and VPN data, too. They’re a pretty solid all-rounder, and they’re also remarkably flexible.
Say you choose to have a 100Mb leased line installed for your business and install using a 1Gb bearer. Should your internet need increase you can increase the bandwidth you need. All you would need to pay is whatever the additional monthly cost is.
When we ask what is a leased line? It would often be better to ask what can a leased line do for my business instead. In 2018 over 60 million hours were lost in UK businesses because of downtime.
With the rollout of more fibre-enabled areas that number may have reduced slightly by now, but it gives an idea of just how much you can lose because of your internet connection.
Now more than ever successful companies understand the need for a digital strategy & how important cloud-based applications are to running your operations on a daily basis.
Leased lines are the most reliable & stable connectivity you can have. They allow you to make quicker uploads and downloads, run multiple applications at the same time & should you have any problems the provider will fix quicker than standard broadband customers – most will guarantee within 4 hours.
Disadvantages of fibre leased lines
The cost of leased lines is more than broadband, but in a similar way that the cost of riding a bus is cheaper than driving your own car. Broadband is a shared service that allows prices to be driven down. Generally speaking the lower the price the more people you will be sharing with.
That also means you will experience more downtime & dropouts. Leased lines are dedicated to you and only you which allows SLA’s, guaranteed uptime & symmetrical speeds. The cost of fibre has dropped significantly and you can now get leased lines from as little as £150 per month.
2. Installation time
Getting a broadband line in is usually a pretty quick process. At worst you may have to wait a few weeks for an engineer appointment, although most are just a case of waiting for the new router to arrive and plugging it in. Leased lines will take on average 45 working days to install.
However, this is only if there is no extra work needed. Some providers will take longer than others. Virgin Media Business are known to have one of the longest wait times, although have stated that they have worked hard to improve and bring more in line with the industry standard.
3. Additional Installation Costs
The first step after signing a contract is to get a site survey done, which is why all providers quotes should state “subject to survey”. These surveys are completed by openreach and will let you & the provider know how easy it will be to get the line in.
If there is any additional construction work needed to install these will come at a cost known as ECC’s. ECC stands for excess construction costs and can be a considerable amount depending on the work needed. The highest we have heard was over £500,000 due to needing to dig up an important A road.
However, if you do get ECC’s come up on the site survey & you don’t think its worth doing you have the right to cancel your order.
Leased Line : The best business connectivity you can get
As you can see, leased lines really aren’t as complicated as some definitions make them out to be. In a nutshell, they’re just dedicated, private connections that can be used however you want.
Many businesses use them to make sure they’re getting the best speeds from their provider, and others use them to create a speedy connection between multiple offices to help keep things running smoothly.
What shocks many businesses is that they find leased lines pretty familiar. They’re really no different to use than your standard business broadband, but they are much more effective for streamlining processes and boosting productivity because they are faster and more reliable.
You can learn more about the benefits of leased lines in another of the Leased Line Comparison library’s ‘Top Ten Reads’.