Top 7 differences between Broadband and Leased Lines

In today’s digital age, internet connectivity is a vital resource for businesses. As more business activity is conducted online, the need for a reliable service is paramount. While there are a whole host of options, when it comes to internet for your business, your first consideration should be whether you need a broadband service or a leased line. In this article we’ll help you understand the top 7 differences between broadband and leased lines with a breakdown of the main benefits and shortcomings of each, so you can be confident you have the right service for your business.

Broadband

You are probably already familiar with broadband – it’s likely the service you have at home and in the workplace – but there are different types available. Most broadband services, at present, use a combination of copper and fibre. This works by carrying internet from the local exchange to your nearest street cabinet and then to your building. However a move to full fibre and the cessation of copper lines is in progress with an aim to increase speeds and modernise the network. The benefit of broadband is that it’s affordable and quick to install but, because the connection is shared with neighbouring buildings, you are competing for bandwidth. As such, it’s possible to see internet speeds suffer during peak times.

The different types of broadband service available in the UK and their features are laid out in the table below.

Broadband comparison table

Leased Line

A leased line is a dedicated fibre internet line that runs directly from the exchange to your building  bypassing older infrastructure and other premises in the area. The line is all yours so competing for bandwidth is not a concern. There are no restrictions on where a leased line can be installed so they can be especially beneficial for businesses in more remote areas that are unable to get regular broadband. Leased lines can be pricey but they offer superfast speeds and greater reliability which is essential for some businesses.

The difference

While leased lines and broadband both provide an internet connection, there are differences in the delivery and service offered by each. 

1. Cost

As a premium product, leased lines are, naturally, more expensive than broadband. Typically, a broadband service would cost in the region of £30-£80 per month whereas a leased line would set you back a couple of hundred a month, on average. There can also be installation costs to take into account with a leased line, especially if a survey identifies that additional construction will be required. The majority of the time this will be factored into your monthly costs but if there are significant excess charges, these will be passed onto you unless absorbed by your provider in return for a contract commitment.

2. Contract

Depending on the provider, broadband contracts are often more flexible in terms of length, ranging from 1 month to 5 years. Leased lines are usually 36 months as standard. Shorter leased line contracts are possible but come with large installation costs so are probably not suitable if you intend to move premises or have a short lease.

3. Speed

Leased lines are significantly faster than regular broadband, reaching speeds of up to 10Gbps. Broadband typically offer speeds of between 20-200Mbps (for reference, 1Mbps is equivalent to 0.001Gbps). Leased lines also use synchronous speeds which means that the download and upload speeds are the same. Broadband services usually offer download speeds that are higher than the upload speeds, for example 80/20Mbps where 80 is the download and 20 is the upload. For businesses that move large amounts of data around, having the synchronous speeds offered by a leased line is useful but a small office is unlikely to need this level of service. You can check your internet speed at fast.com.

4. Bandwidth

If you have a broadband connection, you will be sharing the bandwidth with neighbouring properties. Even if you have FTTP where the line from the street cabinet runs directly to your premises, the line that then runs from the cabinet to the exchange covers other connections as well. At times of heavy traffic you may see drops in your internet speed. A leased line, on the other hand, is a dedicated connection that bypasses these broadband lines. The bandwidth is solely for your use so you don’t have to contend with other users at peak times.

5. Support

Leased lines come with a certain level of service guaranteed which, if not met, can be compensated. This means that faults on the line will be prioritised and fixed within a set number of hours. Providers don’t tend to offer service level agreements for broadband services. If they do, the resolution time is usually much longer than for a leased line. It stands to reason that if you are a large business that relies on your internet connection and are paying for a premium product like a leased line, you can expect a higher level of service when it comes to fixing issues.

Leased line circuits are also usually monitored which means if there is an issue the provider can start troubleshooting straight away. If you don’t have a managed broadband service, it can be harder to diagnose an issue and it will be up to you to notify your provider if something goes wrong.

6. Data

Traditionally, the capacity offered by copper phone lines was much lower than the newer fibre optic cables. In a bid to prevent users from being able to dominate the bandwidth by making large data transfers, providers enforced a fair usage policy. Fair usage breaches could result in slowed connections, additional charges, or service termination.

With the increased capacity and speeds offered by fibre, most providers no longer need to impose fair usage policies and modern broadband packages such as FTTP are unlimited.

Leased lines as a whole have no such limits and you are free to use them as much as you like.

7. Timeframe

Broadband services are usually installed within 2-4 weeks whereas leased lines can take anywhere from 2-12 months to put in. If you need an internet connection fast, leased lines are not the way to go. In some cases, the infrastructure may already be in place which greatly speeds up the process. If not, there could be multiple engineer visits required to assess the premises and build the line path.

So, which to choose – broadband or leased line?

If you are a small office carrying out normal business activities like sending and receiving emails, creating documents and browsing online, and your work can withstand potential dips in service, a broadband service is probably more than sufficient. A leased line would be overkill and unlikely to be worth the expense. If full fibre broadband is available to you, this is the ideal service. You’ll have a fast and reliable connection for a reasonable cost.

If a sturdy internet connection is vital to keep your business running and a lack of connectivity would lose you money, a leased line is definitely worth considering. For many businesses, the service is worth the expense and as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re still unsure and would like a personalised assessment of your business internet needs, contact us today. We can advise you on the options and work with you to come up with an effective solution.