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Introduction to Leased Lines

Leased Lines
Corinne Boyd

By Corinne Boyd Digital Marketing Manager, Updated 17 May 2017

Leased lines connectivity is a business-oriented alternative to standard broadband solutions, giving organisations unrestricted, uncontested access to the internet which is designed to be faster and more stable than the alternatives. And with many organisations using mission-critical services which are reliant on persistent network connectivity, investing in a leased line could be sensible both in terms of cost effectiveness as well as to ensure business continuity. This introduction to leased lines explains their features and benefits.

A standard domestic or business broadband connection will see multiple customers sharing the same infrastructure at the nearest telephone exchange. And depending on the contention ratio, peak periods of use can lead to the service falling considerably short of its advertised maximum speed.

Bandwidth is a valuable commodity, and one which can be quickly compromised when numerous broadband customers attempt to get online at the same time. And while with a home internet connection this might mean that it takes a little while for a video to buffer, which is a relatively minor annoyance, for businesses this digital congestion could hamper productivity and may lead to tangible losses over time.

Leased lines eliminate the need to share a line with any other customers, with a 1:1 contention ratio ensuring that the only traffic generated is your own. This is the chief benefit of investing in this type of solution, although there are a wide range of other advantages to consider when working out whether or not to adopt a leased line.

Connection Speed & Latency of Leased lines

When standard broadband services are being advertised, the theoretical maximum download speed will generally be significantly higher than the upload speed. This type of asymmetric connectivity is preferred because most users will primarily be downloading content. The provider therefore balances the available bandwidth to account for the most popular activities.

For businesses, there is likely to be parity in the importance of downloading and uploading, making asymmetric networking less desirable. And with a leased line, symmetric connectivity means that speeds for downloads and uploads are identical.

Speeds themselves vary depending on the type of leased line connectivity chosen. A basic Ethernet connection covering the first mile of the line allows for symmetric speeds of up 30Mbps in either direction, while generic Ethernet access is slightly faster at 35Mbps. This will be suitable for small businesses looking to remove the limitations associated with a typical broadband package.

For medium and large organisations it will be sensible to select a fibre-based Ethernet connection, which will offer dramatically higher speeds ranging anywhere up to 10Gbps. This is not only better for supporting multiple users and data-intensive activities, but also makes sense for businesses that want to run on-site server infrastructures which host websites, email and other business-critical applications.

An uncontested leased line internet connection has the additional benefit of providing fare lower latency that would otherwise be achievable. A low latency connection ensures responsiveness as well as raw speed, which is useful both for hosting and for the use of apps and services which have very little tolerance of disruption. This can include common services such as VoIP and video conferencing, as well as industry-specific platforms including the apps designed to carry out financial trades automatically, commonly used in the banking sector.

So with faster speeds, no competing traffic and guaranteed low latency, a leased line service is understandably beneficial for businesses which need access to cutting edge online services to survive.

Uptime

A fast broadband connection is useful, but all the speed in the world is meaningless if the consistency of the service is poor. And with standard packages shared by multiple customers, it can be hard to get a good guarantee of uptime, with, in some cases, outages taking hours or even days to be resolved.

Businesses cannot afford to be left without internet access, so a leased line connection will usually be offered by providers that are willing to commit to set levels of uptime. And if the promise of consistent connectivity is not met and unplanned downtime occurs, reimbursement will typically be made available to enterprise clients.

This goes hand in hand with specialised customer service packages which ensure that businesses get the best possible care and support when opting for a leased line deal. And guarantees of uptime should also come with a service level agreement that commits the provider to fixing issues within a set time frame. Higher priced packages will give you priority responses in the event of issues arising.

Usage

Some broadband packages feature limits on data usage, which can keep the monthly cost low but which may also restrict the types of activities that businesses can routinely carry out over the connection. And in the past there have been deals advertised as offering ‘unlimited’ usage, when in reality the presence of a fair use policy meant that hidden constraints were buried in the small print.

A leased line package will obviate the need to worry about usage limits, allowing you to embrace the latest services, rely upon remotely hosted and cloud-based solutions and encourage employees to work remotely without fear of hitting a threshold before the end of the month and being charged extra for the privilege.

Flexibility

A basic broadband package may be charged at a fixed monthly price, with the same payment required by the provider each month irrespective as to how much usage the connection has received. This is not the case with leased lines, which give businesses far more flexibility in terms of connection speed, bandwidth and cost over time.

For example, some businesses will have seasonal periods during which their reliance upon the connection increases dramatically, perhaps in tandem with a temporary increase in the number of users who must be supported. With a leased line, you will have the option of increasing the bandwidth and speed for a given period of time, accounting for peak activity, before returning to the more basic and affordable package originally selected once the rush has died down.

A leased line can also scale and grow as the business itself grows. This means that additional users and new features can be added as and when required, while keeping the expense of doing so at a far more manageable level than would otherwise be the case.

As an additional benefit, the availability of comprehensive reporting capabilities means that you have an overview of network performance and usage levels so that you can assess whether or not a leased line service is meeting your needs and can make adjustments accordingly. Real time analytics, in addition to online management tools, empower organisations of all sizes in this respect.

Add-Ons

Leased line deals for businesses come with most of the aforementioned features and capabilities as standard, together with the option to receive routers, wiring and other hardware components required to complete the installation of the service at your premises. Providers may also encourage businesses to look at relevant add-ons which increase the value of a leased line bundle.

You might, for example, embrace managed security which operates in the cloud and covers everything from providing protection against outside threats to managing mobile devices in an enterprise environment. You may also want to add SIP trunking to better embrace digital voice calls and other modern telecommunications solutions via a leased line. You will need to assess your needs, compare prices and consider how to maximise the value to your organisation when adopting a leased line service.

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