Over the last few years we’ve seen broadband speeds increase and leased line costs decrease. There now seems to be an overlap between the two services. This raises the questions for many IT managers as to which service to opt for.
Well that depends on a number of things; how your businesses uses the internet, how many users you have and how critical the internet is to your operations. The final factor, which will probably have the greatest effect on the matter, is the cost differential between the services.
Before we explore these further it’s worth looking at the two types of technology.
A leased line is a network connection, rented from a service provider, that connects two locations. Often these are an organisation’s premises and a network providers data centre. Speeds can go from 2Mbps (megabit per second) to 10Gbps (gigabit per second). Traditionally provided via a fibre optical cable, although with Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) this is changing, with either Layer 2 or Layer 3 protocols. A good leased line service will be uncontended, which means it isn’t shared with anyone else.
A fibre broadband connection is a connection between two points, again usually a business premise and data centre or network node.
Maximum speeds for the three most popular technologies are:
|Fibre to the Cabinet||80Mbps||40Mbps|
|Fibre to the Premises||330Mbps||30Mbps|
Niche providers can deliver speeds up to 1Gbps. Usually a fibre broadband service is shared, or contended, with other users.
The UK Government has launched the Broadband Connection Voucher scheme. This programme offers grants of up to £3,000 for small to medium enterprises. The grant covers installation costs to deliver a higher speed Internet connection, and can be used for both leased lines and fibre broadband.
Part of the leased line cost is based upon the distance between your premises and the service providers Point of Presence (PoP – an access point to the suppliers core network). The greater the distance, the greater the costs.
As you’d imaging the more bandwidth equals more cost. What you may not know is that certain providers will make the cost of certain bandwidths more attractive. Always get a selection of speeds on your quote.
Are you based in the middle of a metropolitan city or in a remote rural location? Generally the more rural the fewer the number of suppliers, an therefore less competition fighting for your business.
There are a few new technologies that are helping drive costs down whilst keeping the same service standards. EFM (Ethernet in the First Mile), and GEA (General Ethernet Access) are two to look into.
If you use your internet connection for surfing, sending email and uploading images to your website, the chances are that fibre broadband will be a great service for you. On the other hand, if you have remote workers or offices accessing your network via the internet, access the web for business critical applications, run video conferencing services or other higher bandwidth tools a leased line may be a better option.
How many users do you have? More than 20? It maybe worth considering a leased line. Do you have employees or suppliers that access applications on your corporate network (for example email or shared storage)? A leased line will give them a better experience, and could improve productivity, when accessing your network.
What would happen if you lost internet access? Would it be a pain but you’d carry on for a couple of days? Or, would your organisation lose money? If it’s the latter a leased line is definitely the right option. A good supplier will have a very good service level agreement in place, it could end up paying you if the connection goes down.
Can the provider create a bespoke Service Level Agreement (SLA) for you? Your business is individual and that should be reflected in the service you sign up to.
Is the service really fully uncontended from your premise to the internet? A good supplier will be willing to put this in writing.
Does the supplier have the relevant networking skills to fix issues or are they simply selling another service provider’s offering? A great supplier will have the skills, usually Cisco accreditation, to resolve issues quickly if they occur.
If you contact a Tier 1 supplier the chances are that they will only provide you with the cost of their service. An independent supplier will be able to get better value by providing the costs from a variety of suppliers.