While, you may be willing to put up with a bit of buffering if you’re trying to watch YouTube comedy clips, a slow connection can be no joke for your business.
If slow connection is an issue for your business, your service will almost certainly be ADSL over a standard copper phone line. In these circumstances, it may be cost-effective to upgrade to a leased line.
A leased line brings faster, more reliable connections
A leased line is a permanent network connection between your business premises and your Internet Service Provider using fibre-optic cable. The advantages of a leased line include faster speeds and greater reliability, plus they are usually an uncontended service, which means the connection is dedicated to you.
ADSL is usually a contended service, which means the bandwidth from a local exchange to a business’s ISP is also promised to 20+ customers.
If only a few of these customers are using their connections at any one time, no one will notice any difference. But when a large enough number of people are trying to access the same capacity, slow connections are inevitable.
If you have a leased line, you never have to compete with other customers.
The business case for a leased line
Of course, the advantages of a leased line come with a bigger bill, but as broadband speeds have increased, the price of leased lines has fallen.
However, because the cost of a leased line is not the cheapest route to connectivity, you will want to consider if your business really needs one. Here’s how to do that:
Do a headcount
Count the employees who need access to your company’s network (ie not the number of staff you employ, but the number of people who need email or access to shared documents and/or storage). If that number is higher than 20, a leased line is recommended.
Look at usage
Even if you have fewer than 20 users, your Internet usage may require you to opt for a leased line. Sending a few emails and general internet browsing isn’t enough to justify a leased line, but fibre broadband would be a smart option if your small business uses high bandwidth applications (such as video conferencing) or if you have staff in various locations accessing your network.
Consider cost of lost connection
Think about what happens to your business if you lose internet connection. Would it merely be inconvenient, or would you lose money?
Opting for a leased line with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Service Level Guarantees (SLGs) – something not included with connections such as ADSL – should make any issues you may have a priority.
Advantages of a leased line
The next step is to look at some of the advantages leased lines have over other broadband connections;
With a leased line you will have far higher speeds; these range from 10Mbps to 10,000Mbps. ADSL can’t compete with that.
You may see ADSL advertised as Up to 8Mbps, or ADSL2+ advertised as Up to 24Mbps; the Up to part is the bit to pay attention to, as these speeds are only available if you’re based very close to the local telephone exchange. The farther away from the exchange, the more dramatic the drop in speeds.
No peak-time slow-down
With your dedicated leased line, it doesn’t matter what your neighbours are up to on their contended service. If you pay for a 10Mbps connection, you’ll have a 10Mbps connection every hour of every day.
Broadband providers like to highlight download speeds, and many people don’t realise that with an ADSL service, the upload service is much lower than the download speed. You may have a 6Mbps connection, but that’s your download speed; the upload is likely to be around 800kbps.
This isn’t an issue if you’re just browsing websites. But if your needs include online backup, transferring files via FTP, or allowing your staff to connect to their work PCs from home using Remote-Desktop-Protocol, you need a good upload speed, and as leased lines are symmetric, they offer exactly that.
If your broadband connection is via a standard copper phone line, you can experience issues that don’t come up with fibre-optic cable.
After leaving your office, your copper phone line ends up in a bundle of other copper phone lines going to the same telephone exchange. The transmissions in these other phone lines can induce currents in your line, and this can result in transmission errors.
As well as a leased line using fibre-optic cable, it comes with higher-grade hardware, which is again more reliable.
Costs of a leased line
Once you’ve determined that a leased line is a good fit for your business, there’s cost to consider, and this is usually calculated using the following factors:
Multiple sites using the same provider may prove more expensive as the price is driven by the distance the provider is from each site. When gathering quotes, take this into account.
Be aware rural locations will have fewer suppliers and possibly less competitive rates. However, in city centres, there should be better deals; look for a supplier that works with a wide range of potential networks.
More bandwidth costs more. Check with suppliers, they may have deals on certain speeds; ask for a variation of speeds on your quotation.
Generally, leased lines are provided using fibre optical cable, but new technologies are changing this: EFM (Ethernet in the First Mile) and GEA (General Ethernet Access) are newer options which provide the same service at a smaller cost.
Before committing to a supplier, be clear about these key points:
- Ensure you’re receiving an SLA as part of your service.
- Ensure you are receiving an uncontended service.
Leased lines can provide an unbeatable level of internet connectivity, although it may not always be necessary for your business.
When opting for a leased line, make sure the solution you are being offered is bespoke to your business. And if you need help, there are independent telecoms suppliers who can look around for you and find the best quote from a variety of suppliers.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Nolan Braterman of Frontier Voice and Data who have been providing businesses with working, flexible, bespoke and price competitive communications solutions for more than thirty years. FVD is an independent supplier and carries a comprehensive, business grade suite of products to suit any type or size of company.
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