Leased lines are the pinnacle of internet connectivity for businesses—offering incredibly fast, uncontested speeds and bullet-proof reliability they’re used by businesses with heavy reliance on their internet connection, or those with little to no fibre line availability.
As a leased lines provider, we’re often asked about the pros and cons of a leased line, so in this article, we’ll break down the main advantages and disadvantages of a leased line to help you decide if your business needs one!
What is a Leased Line?
A leased line is a type of broadband connection that gives businesses their own, dedicated, fibre broadband line. This fibre line runs from the nearest fibre point (usually a telephone exchange or a street cabinet) straight to your businesses premises.
A leased line uses something called a bearer, which is a fancy way of saying a ‘pipe’ that carries your internet connection. The bearer can be any size (for example 1Gbps), and that means that you can have any speed up to 1Gbps running on that bearer.
Advantages of a Leased Line
Leased lines are one of the fastest forms of internet connectivity, and as such they come with a whole host of benefits.
Arguably, the number one advantage of a leased line is the incredible speeds they provide. Our leased lines can offer up to 10Gbps download and upload speeds. To put this in perspective, the UK average broadband is 50.4Mbps according to Ofcom research. This means that the quickest leased line speed is over 1,970% faster than standard UK broadband.
Leased lines also offer symmetric speeds, which means that the upload speed is just as fast as the download speed—this is especially helpful if you’re uploading large files, or streaming video etc.
Companies such as film studios and broadcast suites make use of the high upload speed of leased lines when uploading their large video files to servers, or publishing content online.
Another huge advantage of a leased line, and the reason why many businesses choose one, is their reliability. Leased lines have a 99.99% uptime, and when they’re installed, they very very rarely go down or fail.
The high reliability of a leased line is also an advantage for businesses that use VoIP telephone systems, as the broadband is used not only for web traffic, but also for their businesses telephone system—particularly helpful if you have lots of users working from the same office.
Uncontested Internet connection
A leased line is not affected at peak time. Due to the nature of a leased line (being a direct pipe from your business to the nearest fibre point) means that it is not shared amongst nearby businesses.
Normal broadband connections are shared by lots of businesses and houses, all fed from the cabinet at the end of the street—this means you’re effectively sharing part of one large connection. This is not the case for a leased line, which is 100% yours.
Peak times, heavy network load and other external factors will not impact your businesses leased line—and you’ll receive the speeds you expect no matter what other businesses around you are doing.
Having an uncontested internet connection is very important if you do lots of online work, or utilise cloud services—as it ensures that your business can continue to operate, even if the network is busy.
There are two types of broadband connection, a symmetric and asymmetric connection. There are a few differences between the two, but in general:
- An asymmetric connection has a higher download speed than upload
- A symmetric connection has both upload and download speeds the same
Regular broadband lines (like the kind you would have at your house) are asymmetric, whereas leased lines are the symmetric, which means you’ll have high upload as well as download speeds.
No geographic restrictions
One huge advantage of a leased line is the lack of geographic restrictions. We all know how frustrating it is when you put your postcode into a broadband checker, only to be told you can receive 20mbps download at a maximum. This is most likely due to the lack of fibre availability in your location.
Leased line’s don’t have this restriction, and they can be installed practically anywhere in the UK. The only stipulation is that you’re willing to pay for the installation (which can be expensive—especially if you’re far away from the nearest fibre point).
Sometimes, a leased line installation requires road closures and work outside of your business, which can contribute to the installation cost. The good news is that once it’s installed, you don’t have to have it done again—it’s a permanent fixture.
Control over your bandwidth
With a normal broadband line, you’re governed by the infrastructure available in the ground—whether that’s FTTP, FTTC or ADSL. There is nothing you can do about this on a normal broadband line, and if you were at the maximum speed, then there is no way to increase it.
Leased lines offer complete control over your bandwidth. If you opted for a 1Gbps bearer, for example, you could have anything from 20Mbps to 1Gbps speed. And many businesses choose 500Mbps, for example, and then upscale as their business grows.
Disadvantages of a Leased Line
While leased lines are pretty impressive, and they do have a plethora of benefits, they’re not right for everyone. Here are a few disadvantages to consider…
It’s no secret that, compared to a ‘normal’ broadband connection, leased lines are expensive. Standard fixed line business broadband connections usually range from £20 - £80 a month depending on your package. Leased lines can be upwards of £200 per month for higher speed packages.
One of the reasons why standard broadband is cheaper than leased lines is because the infrastructure teams (such as Openreach) use one large connection that is shared between lots of businesses or houses connected to the same cabinet. This means they can reduce the cost to each individual connection.
However, because a leased line is completely separate, and dedicated, they are more expensive. We recently wrote an article about the costs involved with a leased line, or if you would like to find out how much it would cost your business, click the online quote button at the top of the page.
Installation lead times
As you might expect, getting a leased line install can take time, particularly if you don’t have one already installed. This is because there is considerable work to be done, including connecting both endpoints (your business and the nearest fibre point), and everything in between.
Some leased lines can take months to get fully installed, especially if it requires road closures etc.
We would recommend another solution while you were getting your leased line installed, such as a fibre line (if you have availability) or a 4G/5G router. This keeps you going in the meantime and provides an internet connection in the interim.
Once you leased line is installed, these interim services can be ceased and returned to us, so you’re not doubling up on costs.
We’ve touched on this already, but a leased line is not cheap. They’re the pinnacle of internet connectivity, and as such they come with a higher price tag than traditional broadband lines.
Sometimes, a big part of a leased line is the installation cost. Because of the resource and time involved in rolling out a leased line, there can be a chunk of money required to install. Usually, the further away from the nearest fibre point you are, the more it costs.
However, there are instances where the installation costs can be rolled across the contract term, which helps your cashflow. Speak to a member of our team for an indication of leased line installation costs at your premises.
Another way to keep these costs as low as possible is the UK Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme, which offers up to £2,500 off your leased line installation costs as part of the Governments plan to roll out full fibre to everyone in the UK.
A leased line can be overkill
If you’re a small business, then a leased line could be overkill. Their higher cost and insane speeds mean that they’re often just too much for smaller businesses.
This is where 4G/5G routers come into play—they’re often a much more cost effective way of improving your businesses broadband speed without the high costs of getting a leased line installed. Another alternative is multiple broadband lines, which you can use to load balance and increase your available bandwidth.
Should my Business get a Leased Line?
Well, it depends. Every business is different, and you’ll have different requirements from your connectivity than another business.
As a rule of thumb, you should look at your businesses reliance on internet connectivity, and ask yourself the below questions:
- Do my team use the internet for the majority of their jobs?
- Do we have a VoIP telephone system?
- What would the impact of an internet outage be?
- What is my budget for internet connectivity?
Consider the advantages and disadvantages above, and apply them to your business—this should give you an indication as to whether or not a leased line is the right option for your business.
If you’d like some honest, no obligation advise, our technical team would be more than happy to chat you through the different connectivity options and find the best one for you, or you can click the online quote button at the top of the page.