Understanding Ethernet First Mile and Why It Matters To Your Business

Updated: March 6th, 2024

Unlocking the Benefits and Advantages of Ethernet First Mile (EFM) for Your Business

Reliable broadband is the beating heart of business in the digital age. It’s essential for allowing an ever-growing amount of data to be carried over networks to enable better communication and collaboration across devices, locations, even borders. Ethernet First Mile is an often overlooked component of business broadband, with companies more focussed on the emergence of fully fibre-optic connections. But Ethernet First Mile can actually provide many of the benefits of fibre connections, but at a much cheaper, more effective rate (or at least provide a stop gap until full-fibre is available in your area).

In this guide, we’ll help you understand what Ethernet First Mile is, and why it’s something to consider if you want a fast, cost-effective broadband connection.

What is Ethernet First Mile?

Ethernet First Mile (EFM) is the connection between your business’s premises and the street cabinet that carries the broadband connection into an area. With regular broadband, your connection will run into this exchange, and you’ll share capacity with every other business that runs its broadband through the same cabinet. Using Ethernet First Mile, you get a dedicated broadband line for your business, providing an uncontended internet connection specifically for your premises. And, because you’re the only one with access to this connection, you can achieve the same levels of connectivity as fibre broadband, while still using copper wires, which can make it much more cost effective.

EFM has become much more popular in recent years, largely due to the increasing reliance businesses have on broadband connections and data transfers in order to operate. For businesses, a major benefit of EFM is that it provides “symmetrical” bandwidth, which means that the upload and download speeds are the same. This is important for businesses, but something that is lacking in regular broadband, which tends to favour faster downloads speeds as these connections are aimed more at consumers who are streaming content and downloading videos from Netflix. But for businesses, which send files and data, the increased upload speeds are essential and ensure every type of communication can be achieved as efficiently as possible.

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When would you use Ethernet First Mile?

Currently, just over 50% of areas in the UK have access to a full fibre connection. While this percentage is growing all the time, in the meantime, it leaves a lot of businesses without access to an internet connection that meets their requirements. That’s why Ethernet First Mile is so useful. It offers businesses the chance to have their own dedicated line, with reasonable speeds in both directions, so they can move data effectively and stay productive.

Businesses can also benefit from a lot of the advantages offered by full fibre with Ethernet First Mile, like not having to worry about competing with people and businesses using the same lines for bandwidth. Plus, Ethernet First Mile connections are usually cheaper than fibre connections, because they’re still running on the old copper wires.

Benefits of Ethernet First Mile

For a business looking to establish an ultra fast, low latency broadband connection, EFM can be a great solution if investing in full fibre broadband isn’t realistic (or if these connections aren’t yet available in the area)

Some of the benefits of Ethernet First Mile include:

It’s cheaper

Investing in EFM can be up to 50% cheaper than opting for a fibre connection to your premises. This allows you to free up funds to invest in other areas of the business.

You get a dedicated broadband connection

Your business will be the only one that can access your EFM line so you won’t be competing with other companies for bandwidth. This helps ensure your bandwidth remains consistent throughout the day – even during peak times – reducing the risks of latency and delays.

Business grade connectivity

If your business is reliant on its broadband connection to operate, losing connections (even for a short time) can be highly disruptive. EFM is a business grade level of connection, which means you’ll have a strong SLA with your provider that not only ensures you get a consistent, high bandwidth data connection, but provides reassurance that they’ll quickly restore services if something does go wrong.

More security

Data security is everything when you’re dealing with sensitive commercial and personal information. The costs of leaving this data vulnerable can be huge, not just in fines for breaching rules like GDPR, but also in the loss of reputation you could suffer in the long-term. EFM creates a stronger level of security because it provides a private connection to the internet. This means your data never touches the “public” internet, removing the vulnerabilities.

Learn how Ethernet First Mile or dedicated business broadband could benefit your business and provide a faster, more reliable internet connection. Get in touch with us here

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Using Ethernet First Mile as a VOIP connection

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is a highly effective tool that puts all your voice, text, video and data messaging into one internet based platform. With the PSTN switch off just around the corner in 2025, VOIP is already becoming the go-to alternative for businesses seeking a streamlined, efficient communication system that connects employees and customers regardless of where they are.

One thing to consider with VOIP, is that while it’s highly efficient, it relies on the transfer of data provided by your broadband connection. During peak hours, when bandwidth is reduced on regular broadband due to the increased number of users and activity, your VOIP system could struggle. EFM removes this hurdle by putting your VOIP system on a dedicated internet line that only your business can access. EFM also carries the increased upload speeds you need to send calls, files and data reliably over the internet.

Ethernet First Mile Vs Fibre Connections

What is Fibre to the Cabinet and how is it different from EFM?

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) is a form of internet connection that uses fibre optic cables to carry connections from a telephone exchange to a roadside cabinet. From here, the standard copper wiring is used to deliver the connection to premises in the local area.

This is different from Ethernet First Mile because the connections are not private to your premises. If you’re using FTTC, your connection will share the bandwidth of everyone else using the same wires, making it far less reliable for businesses that need consistent connection speeds. Whereas with EFM, your connection and speeds aren’t affected by anyone else whatsoever, because you have dedicated line running from your property to the cabinet.

In terms of price, FTTC doesn’t often prove to be a cost-effective solution when compared to other options like Ethernet First Mile, which offer far more advantages. Annual rental prices currently range from around £50 to £210 per year, depending on the speeds you need.

Ethernet First Mile vs leased lines

What is a leased line and is it different to EFM?

Leased lines give businesses access to equally-impressive upload and download speeds and are ideal for data-hungry companies that need to receive and share large files constantly. Much like Ethernet First Mile, leased lines give businesses their own private line, so they don’t need to compete with anyone else for bandwidth. The term “leased” is in reference to the internet service provider (ISP) directly renting the line to a business.

Because of this, leased lines are considered to be very reliable and use the exact same technology as fibre broadband, passing data along fibre optic cables. Because leased lines are dedicated lines between the business and the ISP, Ethernet First Mile can be classed as a leased line, along with Full Fibre connections, despite the differing technology. Depending on the type of leased line connection you need, prices can range from £90 per month to over £800 per month for the fastest fibre connections.

Get the most out of your business’s connections

Whether you’re looking for Ethernet First Mile, Leased Line Service, Business Broadband or are looking for a reliable VOIP phone system, you’ll find what you’re looking for with Elite Group. We help small, medium and large companies build an IT and communication infrastructure that lets them work how they want, with all the cloud, connectivity and unified communication systems. If you’re looking to upgrade your existing IT systems, contact one of our team to talk about what you’re looking for and how we can help.