Which Connectivity? Leased Line versus Broadband Explained

This is one of the questions we are most commonly asked to answer for people looking to renew or upgrade their connectivity. So what is the difference between a Leased Line and standard Broadband and is it worth upgrading?

Often being raised as a result of the transition that small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) are making to Cloud-based services, this trend is driving demand for high-performing internet access which can handle increased data volumes consistently, yet offers an affordable solution at the same time. With so many benefits, SMBs are now finding it difficult to avoid moving to a hosted environment in some form or another, recognising that they are able to reduce costs whilst increasing productivity, customer service, efficiency and staff mobility to name just a few of their motivations.

What about cost?

When it comes to the right connectivity solution for supporting cloud-based applications, affordability is always an important factor, with ‘high-speed’ (also known as ‘Gigabit’ or ‘Leased Line’) connectivity being perceived by many SMBs as ‘out of their range’ in terms of cost.

You can of course spend as little or as much as you wish on internet access, with prices varying significantly from one product to another. The purpose of this post is to explain the difference between a standard Broadband connection versus what we are calling a Leased Line (high-speed) option, including how the price differs, what funding is available and what you can expect in terms of quality of service for both.

Broadband – The Facts

Also known as ADSL, FTTC, Fibre to the Cabinet or Fibre Broadband.

A Broadband service typically uses copper lines for either some or all of the connection to the building, which restricts the performance and reliability which can be expected. Speeds are therefore not guaranteed, which as a result provides a cheaper service. Due to advances in technology and the benefits that these offer SMBs, this option is now been more and more widely viewed as insufficient for a typical business setting:

  1. Low Cost: The cheapest way to access the Internet. You can expect to pay between £10 – £40 per month. The service providers enjoy large volumes but offer no guarantees in terms of performance and service levels which allows them to keep these prices low.
  2. Unpredictable Speed: There are many unpredictable factors with a Broadband service – all of which are pretty much out of your control as a customer. These include the distance your business is from the telephone exchange, quality of the copper in the ground, plus network congestion and contention. Each of these mean that speeds are inevitably inconsistent, which in turn impacts on employee’s productivity and customer response times, causing numerous issues.
  3. Different Upload/Download Speeds: The speed of uploading is significantly lower than the download speed. This means that some common technologies including VOIP, VPN, data backups and Cloud-based applications can perform badly, especially if this is combined with speed fluctuations. As a result, your business is limiting it’s capacity to adopt some very straight forward and common technologies which your competitors will be using to remain agile, flexible and gain an advantage over those that don’t.
  4. Service Expectations: Response times and fix times are not guaranteed and can run in to days rather than hours. Depending on the type of business you are, this loss of service could be disastrous. When multiplied across your workforce, hours can turn into days very quickly and if you’re trying to access critical cloud-based services such as your CRM System or phones, it’s crucial that you are back up and running quickly should a fault occur.

Leased Line – The Facts

Also referred to as EFM, GEA, Fibre or Ethernet. The government has recognised the positive impact that high speed connectivity offers organisations and the wider economy. As a result it has released funding for SMBs throughout the UK to claim £3,000 towards the cost of a Leased Line, making this option currently cheaper than a standard Broadband connection in many cases. More info on funding >>

A Leased Line is a private connection, providing dedicated internet access direct to a business. This is in contrast to Broadband which is a public shared connection, providing Internet access to a business or household at varying speeds and levels of performance.

These dedicated services can be delivered over Fibre or Copper, although Fibre is preferential due to achieving far greater speeds and reliability. The service provider uses compressed air to ‘blow’ fibre through pre existing ducts so that faster installs, lower costs and greater distances can be achieved. They then terminate one end of the fibre inside your business premises and connect it to a router. This router allows the service provider to proactively monitor, support and manage the Internet connection for you 24 hours a day:

  1. Guaranteed Speed and Performance: Leased Line speeds range from 10Mbps to 10Gbps so this option pretty much suits all needs and is relatively flexible so you can start low (to keep your costs down), and increase the speed as your demand increases. As a totally private connection, the speed and performance are consistent and assured. Neither will fluctuate and both are fully reliable and will meet your expectations.
  2. Equal Upload/Download Speed: This means services which demand decent and consistent upload speeds such as data backups, cloud-based CRM Systems, VPN Remote access and VOIP telephony will be completely reliable. Equal upload and download performance enables organisations to adopt cloud-based technologies to remain competitive.
  3. Short Response / Fix Times: In many cases faults are identified before you are even aware that there is an issue. This is called Proactive Service Monitoring and is enabled 24 hours a day. Once a fault has been raised there is typically a 30-60-minute engineer response time and a service restoration target of between 4 and 6 hours. In reality though, fix times are often much shorter than this.
  4. £3,000 Funding Available: At the time of writing this blog, the government is offering £3,000 funding to SMBs across the UK towards the upgrade or renewal of your connectivity to a Leased Line quality. In short this dramatically enhances your internet capacity, yet can create savings for your business in many cases.
  5. Varied Costs: As would be expected, before any funding (you may be able to claim £3,000) the cost of a Leased Line is more expensive than a standard Broadband connection. This is due to the superior assurances for quality and consistency in speed that are offered. The increase in price can vary depending on your office location and speed requirements, ranging from between £125 and £500 per month – without any funding. Check your eligibility for funding here >>

Still Unsure? 

Whilst the cost of a leased line can vary dependant upon your location, you first of all need to establish if you are eligible for government funding which would make a huge difference. The criteria is easy to meet and if you do so, there won’t be a better time to consider the upgrade than now. A Leased Lines provides the most reliable means for accessing hosted services 24/7. In contrast, Broadband costs are cheaper but taking this option can be a risky strategy if you are reliant on your internet connection.

With virtually no risk of performance problems or downtime associated with a Leased Line, it can only be expected that there is a difference in price, albeit this is just a fraction of what it was only three years ago. This is firstly because the sector is becoming more competitive with an increased choice of suppliers, and secondly, due to the government-led funding schemes which have been set up to assist with the cost of implementation.

Our advice would be – don’t discount a Leased Line until you have spoken to a specialist provider of business connectivity and have received a recommendation/quote based on where you are located, what financial grants are available and the individual requirements of your business.

Everything Voice has an experienced team on hand to provide a full break down of options (including Leased Line & Broadband) for you. They can also check whether your business is eligible for £3,000 funding. Contact us on 0330 055 3570 to find out more. 

Watch this video to find out more about ‘The Gigabit Revolution’

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