A leased line is a dedicated broadband service that provides a reliable connection. It’s most commonly used by businesses and large organisations.
You may notice internet speed drops at peak times with your home broadband. This is because everyone shares the internet connection and the local bandwidth is maxed out.
But with a dedicated leased line broadband connection, you won’t have a problem with this. You’ll pay a higher subscription, but you’ll have your own line to ensure the connection remains fast.
However, because leased lines are aimed at businesses rather than home use, they’re not cheap, and can be more limited than standard broadband.
Leased lines: the key points
Differences between standard broadband and leased line connections
If you’re looking into leased broadband for your business, you’re probably hoping for better connection speeds. And that’s definitely possible, with leased lines available with speeds up to and above 1Gb. You’ll find there’s a wide choice of speeds available with leased lines, allowing your business to select exactly the right service to fit your requirements.
Another major other reason to go for a leased line broadband package is the dedicated connection for your business. On a standard broadband package, you’re sharing the bandwidth with other homes and businesses in your local area. This can be fine if your business isn’t massive, but if you have many staff members online at once and reliable broadband is vital, a dedicated internet line can be very beneficial.
Quality of service and support
When it comes to a leased line package, you can expect to have dedicated specialist support. And fewer customers mean they can promise to help you quickly and efficiently when you contact them. If any downtime is planned, you’ll be informed as standard, but the fix times are typically a lot faster.
A leased line should always deliver the speed you’re quoted when signing up. If you have a business where the reliability of broadband is paramount, that’s a critical difference compared to home broadband, where speeds can fluctuate throughout the day.
Static IP addresses
A leased line can offer a static IP address. This isn’t something you’ll often find with home broadband as it’s not a feature most home users need, but for businesses it can be significant.
A static IP address is important for securing remote systems, as you can restrict access to that IP. It also makes it much easier to host your own servers.
What's a static IP address?
An Internet Protocol address is a string of numbers that acts as an identifier for every device connected to the internet. Most home broadband connections have a dynamic IP address. This means the number can change, while businesses will often use a static IP that is permanently assigned to the connection.
One of the few disadvantages of leased line broadband is the cost. With only one company using an entire line, it’s going to have to cost more for it to be worth it to the line providers. Both the broadband and line costs will be much pricier.
However, if you’re running a large business, the extra costs will definitely be worth it.
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. On the other hand, 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 on the premises, with the speed and price determined by the choice of package.
Leased lines don’t necessarily have to offer ultrafast broadband speeds. The critical part of a leased line is that it is dedicated and uncontended, but not every business needs a 1Gb fibre connection.
For example, BT business broadband offers leased lines with speeds from 50Mb up to an incredible 10Gb.
The speeds are also often symmetrical, which means both the download and upload speeds are the same.
Set up for these packages is also typically fast, with EAD potentially available the same day if the equipment is already installed. Openreach also offers a service for handling large volumes of traffic through Ethernet Backhaul Direct or EBD. This is ideal for video streaming and maintaining continuity should the main fibre network fail.
What is Openreach?
Openreach is the company that maintains the former British Telecom Network used for the majority of broadband and phone services. If a repair or installation is required, it’s Openreach who will send an engineer, not your provider.
More than 650 service providers using the Openreach network. That’s the majority of the UK’s broadband providers. This includes Sky, TalkTalk and BT. The exception to this is Virgin Media - it uses its own, separate cable network.
Do I need a leased line?
By this stage, it should be evident whether you need leased line internet access. 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 work perfectly 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 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, phone systems, conferencing video calls, and cloud services could demand the speed and reliability of a leased line.
You should consider a leased line if:
- Your business activities require a dedicated line with guaranteed performance.
- 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 aka SLA.
You don't need a leased line if:
- You're just looking for home broadband and Wi-Fi.
- 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 postcode.
Leased line broadband can be a real asset to businesses that genuinely need it. But not all do. If you’re a company that has a lot of staff using the internet constantly, if you want to operate servers, or you need bullet-proof broadband that is backed up by top-level support? Then you’ll want to look into a leased line broadband package.
If you run a business but have decided that a standard broadband package is the better option, we have a guide to business broadband deals with more information. These won’t necessarily be as fast as a leased line package, but they will have the extra assistance that you can get with a leased line. Out of these deals, we recommend the BT business packages due to the vast variety in speeds you can get, whether you want standard broadband or a leased line.
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