Your IT Department

Leased Line or Broadband. What’s best for your business?

We recently took a small poll of business people at a networking event. We asked them what they wanted technology to do that it didn’t already. Some wanted it just to work, we’re talking to those people as we can fix that! Others wanted it to read their minds – that goes a bit beyond our capabilities, for now! But the thing that cropped up several times was the need for a reliable internet connection.

This is no surprise. Covid-19 (we got to the second paragraph without mentioning it!) and the move to working from home, plus massive increases in the amount of events and meeting on Zoom, Teams and other platforms mean people are more reliant on their broadband than ever.

But how do you get the fastest, most reliable internet connection?

The problem with broadband

Broadband connections are both ‘contended’ and ‘asymmetrical’ – this affects speed. ‘Contended’ means that your broadband connection is shared between you and everyone else on your exchange. At peak times the internet runs more slowly, because lots of people are sharing a limited amount of bandwith or connection. Broadband is ‘Asymmetrical’ because you get different speeds uploading files than you get downloading files. So, if for example you have large CAD drawings that you need to upload a slow upload speed means this takes much longer. This is why broadband is advertised as speeds ‘up to’. In perfect circumstances, with nobody else accessing the line at the same time, that’s the speed you’ll get.

Broadband was fine for most businesses. However, those same businesses now might have 20 staff outside the organisation accessing internal systems. They are now running video meetings several times a week, both internally and with clients. In short the demand on the broadband connection has increased greatly.

The Alternative is a Leased Line?

A leased line differs from broadband as it is ‘uncontended’ and ‘symmetrical’. You’ll have worked out that this means nobody else shares the bandwith, and you get the same speeds for both upload and download.

The advantages of this are obvious.

With the added strain placed on broadband connections due to working from home, VoIP telephone systems, cloud computing and video conferencing a leased line is becoming a ‘must have’ for many businesses.

Leased lines offer tremendous speed advantages over a normal broadband connection. And you get no peaks and troughs during use. There are several leased line options that you can get depending on requirements and budgets.

Full Fibre

The “Top Dog” of internet connections. Full fibre: a direct, superfast ethernet connection over 100% fibre optic cables right from the business to the Internet Service Provider. This can deliver speeds of up to around 10Gbps. To put that in context you could download an entire 4k movie in about 30 seconds! This the fastest, most reliable, and, of course, the most expensive internet connection available.

Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM – also known as “Ethernet Broadband”)

With this connection you have full fibre form the Internet Service Provider to the exchange. From the exchange to the business the traditional copper network is used. For added resilience it uses something called aggregated copper pairs. Essentially this means if one copper connection fails, the other can take over. Speeds are slower than full fibre, though you can get 1Gbps, so better than the very fastest traditional broadband. Of course it’s asymmetrical and uncontended and it’s a cheaper option. It’s also a good option for businesses who do not have a local fibre cabinet.

Ethernet over FTTC (EoFTTC)

For businesses that do have access to local fibre-based cabinets, EoFTTC is similar to EFM but even cheaper. It uses a mixture of fibre and copper, with any drop off in speed due to the distance of a business from the local cabinet (as the last part of the connection from the cabinet is using copper pairs). Many providers offer this as a symmetric connection, however there is the capability of increasing the download speed well beyond the upload.

How Fast Is A Leased Line?

It can be very fast! As we’ve mentioned 10Gbps is possible with full fibre. You have the flexibility to go for the speed that you need based on your requirements and budget. You can also increase the speed as your needs change.

Fibre optic leased lines are usually described in two parts, a line speed and a bearer speed. They are usually quoted like this: 20/100. The number before the slash is the line speed. This is the symmetrical speed of what you experience when you use the connection for both uploads and downloads. The number after the slash is the bearer speed. This is the maximum speed that the line can go up to. So if your needs change, provided your line speed is lower than your bearer speed you’ll be able to upgrade and get a better speed.

Does My Business Need A Leased Line?

How do you know if the investment in a dedicated leased line is a good one? It’s going to come down to how you use your internet connection.

Moving an increasing amount of your operations to the cloud? Then it makes sense to ensure you have the fastest, most reliable connection you can afford. If you’ve got a VoIP phone system then you need a fast, reliable and preferably symmetrical connection. You may well be finding that you are transferring larger files with staff working from home. If you are anticipating you’ll continue to use video conferencing, Zoom or Teams calls for both internal and external meetings it might also be time to consider the quality of your connection.

Other reasons for making the change: a leased line is more secure, more reliable and will have better support if things go wrong. If internet connectivity is absolutely critical in your business can you afford to be without it for several days whilst a broadband connection is fixed?

The flip side of this is mainly cost. You are looking at a more expensive solution than simple broadband. You’ll often be tied into a longer contract too. These are generally around 36 months. Lead time can be up to a couple of months. Plus you need to take into account the costs of installation too.

How Do I Go About Getting A Leased Line?

There are lots of providers offering leased lines and lots of ways to buy. As with any major purchase speak to advisors that you trust. If there are only 5 of you in the office, you’ve got a server and a basic VoIP system then a leased line will improve your connectivity but it’s probably not going to make enough difference to justify the expense. However, you can rest assured that somebody will be only too happy to sell you one!!

Our sister company, Your Comms, will undertake a Communications Assessment with you, absolutely Free of charge. They’ll consider what you need, not just talk about what they have to sell. We’ve ensured that Your Comms is built on a consultative approach, with service at it’s core – just like our IT business. Traditional comms business sell and move on. Your Comms is your communications partner.