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What is a Leased Line and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

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A leased line connection is a dedicated fibre optic cable between your premises and your ISP. A dedicated leased line is typically used by businesses that want an always-on data connection with an SLA as using the Internet is core to their business using technology such as cloud applications, video conferencing, VPN’s, business VOIP telephony/telecoms systems and the requirement to upload large files which require low latency, fixed bandwidth connectivity and symmetric upload speeds to work efficiently.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a leased line service?

Leased Line Advantages

There are several advantages to a leased line internet connection especially when you compare a leased line to a business broadband service.  These advantages range from a guaranteed fix time SLA, symmetric upload speeds to low latency and guaranteed high-speed Internet Access.  We will summarise these advantages below.

Leased Line Guaranteed Fix Time Service Level Agreement Advantages

With a leased line the Internet Service Provider delivers a guaranteed fix time to a major service outage, typically this is a guaranteed fix of between 4 and 5 hours from when the fault is first identified and will provide onsite engineers to fix and repair the service.  A leased line will also normally come with a guarantee on the latency of the connection between the customer premises equipment/router and the Internet Service Provider’s data centre.  Latency is a measure of how long it takes to send a packet of data to a destination and receive the packet back and as a result, if you are running real-time communications having an SLA against Latency is handy when troubleshooting or guaranteeing VOIP or Video.

If you compare a leased line to a standard broadband SLA, then a leased line wins hands down and standard broadband normally doesn’t come with any SLA on latency or Fix Time to a major service outage. Instead, it’s done on a “best-efforts” endeavour service with limited compensation to the outage.

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What are the disadvantages to the Leased Line SLA?

The only real disadvantage to the Leased line SLA is if you can’t afford to even have 4 hours of downtime or you are expecting major compensation from the ISP.  Compensation payments for loss of your service are limited typically to the line rental amounts you pay, so if you lose your leased line for a day then don’t’ expect much more than a few days of service credits in compensation, it certainly won’t cover loss of business costs.

If you can’t afford to lose Internet connectivity even for 4 hours then you should talk to your ISP who should be able to configure a backup service using another fibre ethernet leased line, gigabit fibre broadband, FTTC  or ADSL circuit to failover your internet traffic to the back-up line or alternatively you can look at SD-WAN technology that allows you to connect diverse ISP’s into your network providing carrier diversity.

Leased Line Speed Advantages

One of the main advantages of a leased line is the speed provided.  As a leased line is a dedicated Internet connection between you and the ISP the bandwidth you are paying for will always be delivered. If you compare a leased line to a broadband service, then broadband, because the pricing is lower, is normally contended by the provider.  Contention is where an ISP will in effect share the bandwidth you are paying for with other customers on the network at peak times.  They do this to ensure they can make money on what is a lower-cost connection.  With a leased line speed is uncontended and guaranteed so if you contract to 100Mbps, 1Gbps or 10Gbps you have access to the full capacity.

The other advantage to a leased line in terms of speed is that it is a symmetric service.  This means the upload and download are the same. If you contract to a 100 Mbps service, you will get 100Mbs download and 100Mbs upload.  Upload speed is important if you want to upload large files, connect to remote offices via VPN, use public or private cloud services and run business telecommunications where you are making multiple phone calls.  With standard broadband service, this is delivered as an asymmetric service with a higher download speed than upload.

Leased Line Speed Disadvantages

The only disadvantage to a leased line in terms of speed is if you are on a budget then it won’t be as cost-effective as a fibre broadband, FTTC or ADSL service.

Leased Line Uptime Advantages

With a leased line because it is a dedicated fibre optic connection with enhanced SLA it is the most reliable internet connection in terms of Uptime.  Normally Uptime will be measured over 99.95% availability for a leased line where because FTTC and ADSL broadband is delivered over a copper phone line, these circuits can be affected by noise and are less reliable.

Leased Line Advantages and Disadvantages Summary

It is always sensible to check your business needs when contracting for a dedicated internet connection. If you need a reliable internet connection to run business-critical applications such as VOIP, Video or are uploading large files regularly then a leased line is the connection to consider.  Just ensure when you talk to your ISP check the SLA’s and if you can’t afford downtime then ask them about a leased line backup solution that will protect you against loss of service even if it is only for 4 hours.  If you are a small business where costs are prohibitive then a standard broadband service may suffice.

Want more information about leased lines then check out our leased line ultimate guide.

If you would like further help on choosing the right business internet connection for your business contact sales on 01635 884170 or visit our Business Internet Connectivity page for further help.

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