A leased line is a dedicated broadband service that provides a very reliable connection. It is generally intended for use by businesses and large organisations.
With your home broadband, you may notice internet speed drop at peak times, as everyone shares the connection and the local bandwidth is maxed out.
But with a dedicated leased line broadband connection, this problem is overcome. You pay a higher subscription for your own line to ensure the connection remains fast, unaffected by the activity of other local users.
However, because leased lines are aimed at businesses rather than home use they are not cheap; prices start at around £100 per month.
Leased lines: the key points
Leased line availability in the UK
Dedicated leased lines can be vital to business users, as well as educational, healthcare, and government buildings.
Many internet service providers (ISPs) offer leased lines to businesses. These are typically available in a range of packages based on the expected usage.
For example, a small business might only need the starter package with a relatively modest speed; conversely, an enterprise-level company will probably use the top end package with very high speeds, potentially spending a considerable amount each month for extremely fast connections.
Leased line speeds
Leased lines are available in a variety of packages, usually based around the Ethernet Access Direct (EAD), Ethernet First Mile (EFM), and Ethernet over Fibre (EoFTTC) protocols.
These all offer Ethernet connectivity from a central router (or switch) on the premises, with the speed and price determined by choice of package.
Leased lines do not necessarily have to offer ultrafast broadband. The critical part of a leased line is that it is dedicated and uncontented, but not every business needs gigabit fibre.
For example, BT business broadband offers leased lines with speeds from a relatively sluggish 10Mb up to an incredible 10Gb.
Leased lines may be symmetrical, which means that the connection is the same speed for both download and upload. That can be an essential feature for businesses; a standard residential service will provide asymmetrical connectivity, where uploading is much slower than downloading and sending data can take a long time.
Set up for these packages is usually fast, with EAD potentially available the same day if the equipment is already installed. Openreach also offers a service for handling large volumes of data — Ethernet Backhaul Direct (EBD) — ideal for video streaming and maintaining continuity should the main fibre network fail.
Do I need a leased line?
By this stage, it should be evident whether you need a leased line broadband connection. These types of services are intended for commercial usage, and while they can be installed in homes it would be entirely unnecessary.
If nothing else, they don't make financial sense when there's a wide variety of cheap broadband deals available that are entirely sufficient for typical domestic use.
But a leased line may not be the right choice even if you're looking for business broadband.
Many organisations can also get by with the same types of services as home users, especially smaller businesses that don't have special requirements or a large number of employees. Conventional business broadband deals are affordable and fast enough for many tasks.
However, as the needs of your business grow, so will your demands. Sending emails all day is one thing; online collaboration, private servers, video calls, and online backup services could demand the speed and reliability of a leased line.
Consider a leased line if:
- Your business activities require a dedicated line.
- You have multiple users connected 24/7.
- You require a fast, resilient network connection.
- You need a very high level of support and a service level guarantee (SLA).
You don't need a leased line if:
- You're just looking for home broadband.
- Your business is small or run from home.
How do I get a leased line?
The best way to get a leased line is to get in touch with your preferred ISP's business sales department. However, before you do this, take the time to do some research into customer service and installation times. You should also investigate what the fastest speed is in your area.