Bionic's guide to leased line broadband

If having as good an internet connection as possible is critical for your business, then it might be that leased line broadband is a useful investment for you.

Leased line broadband is a type of connection that is dedicated just to your business. That means you do not share the bandwidth with anyone else, which can give your business a whole range of benefits. In fact, for some businesses, the difference between standard broadband and leased line can be a complete game changer.

This guide will help you to understand how leased line works, what this faster type of broadband is, and whether it’s right for your business.

What is a leased line for business?

A leased line is a broadband connection that uses a dedicated line running directly to your provider’s core network.

And what is a dedicated leased line? It is a line that is not shared with other local users. That’s why leased line broadband is also known as Dedicated Internet Access.

The upside of having a dedicated connection through a business leased line is that your connection will be fast and reliable at any time of day because the line’s full bandwidth is entirely yours. 

This kind of broadband may not come cheap, but many thousands of businesses use a leased line in the UK due to the peace of mind and reliability of service that comes with a guaranteed connection.

What is the difference between broadband and leased line?

The key technical difference between a standard broadband connection and leased line broadband is that leased line is one that is not shared by any other users. 

With most standard home or business broadband connections, bandwidth is shared between several other users. What that means is that connections become ‘contended’ when lots of home users or businesses are online at the same time, slowing down the connection and making it difficult for you to download or send large files.

Leased line connections also tend to be faster than standard broadband, even when the line is not contended. In fact, the average leased line connection is several times faster than its standard broadband equivalent.

Another difference is that leased lines are what is known as ‘symmetrical’, meaning that their upload and download speeds are identical. This is a useful tool for a modern internet-based business, especially one that uses a lot of cloud-based services or voice over IP (VOIP) phone systems.

Does your business need a leased line?

The truth is that most businesses would benefit from a leased line connection, but it may not be business critical for many of them. And given that it is more expensive than a standard broadband connection, it is worth asking yourself if it is necessary.

However, any businesses that require fast data transfer may well require a leased line to remain competitive. These types of businesses include those in the financial services or e-commerce sectors.

Also, any business that uses software as a service (SaaS) or cloud computing as a major part of its technical infrastructure will find that the advantages of a leased line outweigh the extra cost.

What is Ethernet over Fibre to the Cabinet (EoFTTC)?

Ethernet over Fibre to the Cabinet (EoFTTC) is an alternative way to achieve uncontended broadband access without the higher leased line prices. EoFTTC offers dedicated bandwidth, just like a leased line connection, but the first part of the connection - between your business and the nearest street cabinet - uses copper wiring, instead of fibre optics.

This does mean that the speed of the connection on EoFTTC is rarely as fast as it would be for a leased line, but it nevertheless offers consistency of service and symmetrical upload and download speeds.

EoFTTC is a good solution for any business that wants the exclusivity of leased line broadband at a slightly cheaper price point.

What is Ethernet First Mile (EFM)?

Ethernet First Mile - or EFM - is a low-cost version of leased line technology which provides symmetrical  bandwidth at speeds of up to 20 Mbps with no contention. The service is typically delivered using standard copper telephone lines rather than full fibre, and so does not offer the lightning speeds of other leased line broadband connections.

However, it does have many of the advantages of mainstream leased lines. For example, it is ideal for providing reliable VOIP services and supporting cloud based applications.

What are the advantages of a leased line?

The chief advantage of a leased line is pure and simple: speed. Leased line connections are available at speeds of up to 10 Gbps, though most start at 10 Mbps. By comparison, standard broadband speeds tend to max out at around 24 Mbps.

You are also guaranteed to have a consistent speed for your connection, as your line is dedicated and will not become contended at peak times.

Symmetrical upload and download times are also a big advantage of leased line connections if your business works primarily in the cloud.

Furthermore, many leased line providers offer 24/7 support services to their customers, which is not always the case with standard business broadband.

What are the disadvantages of a leased line?

Leased line broadband will cost your business more money. How much you end up paying for the connection depends on the provider, the size of your business and the speed you require. But it is likely that you will end up shelling out twice what you might pay for a perfectly good traditional broadband connection.

Leased lines also take longer to set up than standard broadband, and this process could require some construction work as it will need a new circuit to be built from scratch.

What are the leased line options?

There are a number of options available to you when you are choosing your business broadband, and Bionic can help you to establish which one is right for your needs.

If you do think leased line is the way to go, because of the need for a dedicated line, it might be worth looking at EFM or ethernet over fibre services too, particularly as these can turn out cheaper and easier to set up.

If leased line is your preferred option, work out what speed you need for your connection as this will dictate how much you might pay for it. There are a number of providers who offer leased line broadband, so don’t be afraid to shop around and make them compete on quotes.