Leased Lines - A superfast, dedicated and reliable internet connection for your business

Need high-speed internet for your business? Here we look at leased lines: what they are, how they work and how you can get one.

If you already know the basics and want to see what kind of leased line Plan IT Support can provide for your organisation, head over to our online tool. Make sure you have the post code of your office handy!

What is a leased line?

A leased line is a dedicated data connection to the internet, with a fixed-bandwidth and high reliability. Leased lines have guaranteed speeds, so if your organisation depends on its connection to the internet, then a leased line is definitely something you should look into. Costs for leased lines are usually more (often much more) than a normal internet connection, and install times can also be much longer, but the advantages in connection speed, reliability and the support packages available should far outweigh this.

A leased line is uncontended and symmetrical. What does this mean? Well, your everyday internet connection, like the one you use at home, is shared with the rest of the local geographic area, such as your street or your block of flats. You may have noticed that your internet speeds may slow down in the evening when everyone is at home watching Netflix or streaming games. It’s because during peak times you are contending for bandwidth with your neighbours. This is why your domestic internet speed can fluctuate wildly.

Speaking of internet speeds, have you noticed how your upload rate is often much, much slower than your download rate? Most domestic internet connections are asymmetrical. That is, the upload and download speeds are not the same.

Like I said, a leased line is uncontended and symmetrical. You have an unshared connection to your internet service provider (ISP), and the upload rate is exactly the same as your download rate. It’s like a direct line to your internet provider. In fact, that’s exactly what it is!

A symmetrical connection can be very important to businesses for a number or reasons. A slow upload rate can be a bottleneck in cloud services, especially if you are sending as well as receiving large files. VoIP services and video communication like Zoom or Teams are also sending (uploading) lots of data, as well as receiving.

How fast is my internet connection with a leased line?

The untechnical answer here is “very”. Depending on the infrastructure available in your area, your business can get speeds of up to 1Gbps, and some lucky parts of the country can reach 10Gbps. 1Gbps is over fifty times faster than your average 30Mbps domestic internet connection. 10Gbps is pretty much warp speed.

Leased lines make use of fibre optic technology, and since we’re talking about the speed of light here, the only limit to the speed of your internet connection here is the capability of the technology at either end of the fibre optic cables, and the limits set by your provider. Obviously, the more you pay, the faster you can go.

If you’re lucky, your business has access to a Full Fibre, or Fibre Ethernet leased line. This means the connection is pure fibre optics, from the ISP all the way to your office. This is the fastest, most reliable form of leased line.

Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) is cheaper and slower than Full Fibre, and means there is a fibre connection to your local exchange, but then traditional copper cables from the exchange to your business. For smaller businesses or businesses that do not depend on superfast connections, this is a perfectly serviceable option.

Ethernet over FTTC (or EoFTTC) is a solution for businesses that have access to fibre in their local cabinet, but uses copper from the street cabinet to the premises. This is even cheaper than EFM, and is still a great solution for businesses that crave reliability but aren’t as dependent on high-speeds.

Fibre optic leased lines are often described using a line speed and a bearer. This looks like two numbers separated with a slash, such as 50/100. Here, 50 is the line speed and 100 is the bearer. Your upload and download speeds in this example would be 50Mbps.

The bearer is the maximum speed that line can accommodate. If your line speed is 50Mbps but your bearer is 100, then if your business demands change in the future, then in this example you can upgrade your leased line speed to 100Mbps (for a higher fee, naturally). The most common bearer speeds are 100Mbps and 1Gbps, with 10Gbps starting to show up more frequently.

How do I get a leased line?

If you don’t own the building your business operates in, you may need wayleave. This is permission from your landlord or building management to run the cables necessary for the connection. Your ISP will probably provide a wayleave form for you to hand to whoever manages your building. Wayleave can often take a while to agree – be sure to start the wayleave process as soon as possible.

Other than that, you are limited only by what kind of connection is available in your area. This will be discussed with you at the very beginning of the sales process. The install process can take anywhere between a few weeks and a few months, especially if cables need to be laid between your local cabinet and your office building.

Our online tool will tell you what kind of leased line is available in your area, will tell you what kind of speeds to expect, and also how much you should expect to pay.