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Business Connectivity - When to Move From Broadband to a Leased Line

Published on 13 January 14
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Business broadband packages are improving significantly at the moment as work to rollout superfast connectivity continues across the UK, with many organisations no longer stranded in the no-man's-land of sluggish data speeds.

For many British companies a modern broadband connection will adequately serve their needs and provide a suitable platform for growth over the coming years. But there are other businesses which will be in a position to benefit from a leased line service which goes above and beyond the capabilities of FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) or FTTP (fibre to the premises) bundles offered by some providers. So when should you switch from broadband to a leased line service and what are the advantages of doing so? Here is a look at the battle between these two technologies and the signs that your company is ready to make the move.
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Speed Constraints

Broadband speeds are creeping upwards and where once the limit for downstream data rates was 24Mbps or under in the days of ADSL dominance, the emergence of fibre technologies is putting fixed line connections on track to eventually bring the national average up by a significant degree. Single line FTTC offers up to 80Mbps, while FTTP can deliver 330Mbps or faster, depending on the location of the business and the type of service in which it invests its cash.

However, many organizations will find that even these speeds are inadequate. On-site networks have been delivering gigabit data transfer rates for some time, and when a business is spread across several sites in differing geographic positions, the lack of similar speeds when transferring information between sites could be a bit of a bottleneck.

For companies that are finding that the speed of their broadband is not up to scratch, a leased line may be the way forward, especially if you intend to connect two or more sites not only to the internet, but to one another.

Download speeds on a leased line service can range from between 2Mbps and 10Gbps or more, depending on the provider and the type of solution you require. And unlike most broadband connections, leased lines offer symmetrical speeds, which means that the download data rate is equal to that of the upload equivalent. Information will fly in both directions at the same pace and so there will be no disadvantage for one particular location thanks to a parity of performance.
Connectivity Consistency

While your business may be happy in theory with the download and upload speeds offered by a typical broadband connection, you may want to move to a leased line solution if the reality of a service does not live up to the marketing hype. Broadband providers have to advertise their services as running at up to a certain speed, but there are all sorts of factors which impact the real world performance that your business will experience from day to day. Basic land line solutions are contended by multiple parties at the local telephone exchange, which means that during periods of peak usage you will find that speeds will be a fraction of their advertised potential maximum. For businesses operating throughout the day with a need for consistently fast connectivity, this simply might not be good enough.

Leased lines, on the other hand, are dedicated and uncontended, meaning that your company and no other will be granted sole access to the service, so you are not bumping into traffic generated by third parties while you are attempting to use the connection in busy periods.

Consistency of speed is not just a reason to opt for a leased line, but also the resilience of the connection as a whole, since for larger companies that may be operating nationally or globally the tolerance for downtime will be minimal and extended outages will seriously damage operational integrity across the organization. Bog standard business broadband may not be particularly well equipped to offer robust connectivity over protracted periods, with issues, faults and other foibles getting in the way of the service with few guarantees that solutions will be found quickly.

Leased line providers should be able to offer a much more durable approach, with backup options and contingencies in place to ensure that even in the worst case scenario, your company is not left out of the loop for any longer than necessary. You should even be able to sign up to a service level agreement which does include guarantees protecting your business should something go wrong, even if near total up time is assured by the provider.

So in order to determine whether or not your business can reasonably get by without a leased line connection, you need to assess just how resilient your current package is and whether business continuity is a vital asset or something that can be brushed over.
Flexible Costs

There is no disguising the fact that leased line broadband is innately more expensive than a standard fixed line service, because of course it is more dedicated, durable and desirable, requiring increased resources and management on the part of the provider. For small businesses based on a single site with a handful of employees, it may not be practical to invest in a leased line service, although this is not always the case and there are situations in which sole traders will be compelled to take advantage of this type of connection instead of a common FTTC or FTTP platform.

But the most important thing to remember is that the price of the leased line will generally scale to meet the kinds of connectivity that your company will require. Everything from the symmetric connection speed to the bandwidth allocated and the position of your company relative to the local telephone exchange will be used to determine the amount you pay, with certain elements helping to keep costs down.

Working out when to move from broadband to a leased line will no doubt require some financial analysis and assessment, allowing you to make the decision which is right for your business at the time. Even if you come to the conclusion that a leased line may not be the best option today, this type of service will still be available a little further into the future when your company may be growing and expanding at a rate that necessitates the upgrade for a faster, more flexible and more resilient alternative.

The only way to know whether your company would benefit from a leased line is to actually take the time to check up on your circumstances and assess where the competitive advantages could be gained if you do decide to migrate away from unspecialised broadband.
This blog is listed under Networks & IT Infrastructure and Telecommunications Community

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