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UK SMEs are losing approximately £18.7 billion a year due to internet-related problems, according to a study published by Three. Poor download and upload speeds, along with crowded network traffic, could be to blame for businesses experiencing downtime, lessened productivity and reduced revenue.
However, a fibre optic leased line could solve many of these challenges. They give businesses a dedicated connection on a broadband line that’s entirely their own, offering them lightning-fast speeds directly to their business premises. They’re rented by businesses from phone providers or an internet service provider.
With many businesses reaping the benefits of having their own dedicated internet access, it’d be easy to assume leased lines are the answer to every business’s broadband woes, but that’s not the case. They’re not for everyone. Like all forms of broadband there are advantages and disadvantages businesses must consider when researching broadband lines – including a leased line. Is a dedicated line what you’ve been looking for? Or would you be more suited to an alternative broadband service?
A key selling point for businesses looking to utilise these lines is the incredible guaranteed speeds they can obtain. While most consumer download speeds in the UK range between 30mbps and 80mbps, leased lines can reach staggering speeds of around 10Gbps. These speeds are ideal for businesses transferring large amounts of data constantly, like video files, or those that rely heavily on internet-powered technology like cloud phone systems.
Businesses running their internet through consumer broadband lines struggle just as the average household internet connection struggles when network traffic is high. This is because countless users that rely on the same local lines eat up all the bandwidth, resulting in slower speeds and poor reliability.
Businesses running on a dedicated leased line don’t have this problem, because they run on their own private network, there’s no competition from other internet users. This means businesses are free to enjoy great speeds at any time of day, even during peak times.
Consumer broadband lines offer reasonable download speeds that suit most households. The same usually can’t be said for upload speeds, though, which fall short of their counterparts. This is because internet service providers give download speeds a higher priority for consumers, as many users spend far more time downloading than uploading. For most, this works fine. But for businesses that need quality speeds in both directions, it would be a nightmare.
Businesses that need to move large quantities of data would struggle if their upload speeds weren’t as reliable as their download speeds, with countless files stuck in limbo, potentially halting important work and progress. On top of amazing download speeds, leased lines offer the same utility in the other direction, with equally-impressive upload speed. These speeds are known as symmetric and work wonders for businesses transferring large files regularly, cutting file transfer times, helping businesses stay productive.
Asymmetric speeds, on the other hand, cover most of the consumer broadband connections in the UK and heavily favour download speeds over upload speeds. Any business that moves a lot of data regularly should always seek out internet providers with symmetric speeds – something that can be provided through leased lines.
Leased lines are known for being robust and having reliable connectivity, with little to no downtime and if downtime ever does occur, it usually doesn’t last. Most leased line downtime can be identified and repaired within four hours of reporting the issue to the service provider. That’s in comparison with standard lines, which take on average 48 hours to fix.
If your business doesn’t utilise leased lines and suffers an internet outage, over 48 hours of downtime could cause catastrophic damage to your productivity and profits. Whereas if a business runs many of its systems through the internet, it can expect a much more consistent connection with leased lines than with other less-suitable broadband connections.
For most broadband connections, the speeds you’re able to achieve will be dependent on your location. Some areas can access good speeds, others not so good at all. This is usually down to the availability of fibre lines in a given area. While full fibre is being gradually rolled out across the UK, the speed at which the service has reached many areas has been less than favourable, with thousands of homes and businesses sill stuck with outdated, slower lines and internet speeds.
But time is money in the business world, and those looking to get ahead and get onboard with faster speeds don’t want to wait for the full fibre rollout. A leased line connection offers a solution to this problem. Not only will your business not have to wait for full fibre to finally arrive, it won’t punished because of where it happens to be located. You’ll have access to all the speeds you need wherever you are. As the line is purpose-installed for your business, your location is irrelevant.
This works particularly well for businesses in urban and rural areas, which have been pushed to the back of the queue as the full fibre rollout focusses on major cities first. Currently, only 42% of urban areas have accessed to full fibre, while rural areas fall even further behind with 35%, according to Ofcom. Businesses in areas like these should consider leased lines if they don’t want to wait any longer and would rather experience the benefits of greatly improved internet speeds sooner.
The speeds carried by leased lines lend themselves to businesses that transfer data in different forms. Most modern businesses move different forms of data like emails, messaging and video calls. But the businesses that take advantage of technology like VOIP – who run phone calls and other communication systems through the internet – will hugely benefit from these lines.
Leased lines are far more expensive than other forms of business broadband, with average prices falling between £200 and £300 per month. That’s in comparison to standard business broadband, which can fall well under £100 a month, depending on the level of service.
The cost of leased lines is determined by numerous factors like location, needed speeds and the specific technical requirements of the business. If your business is looking for speeds of 1Gbps or higher, you’re looking at a monthly price of over £500 a month, depending on the provider you choose. It might sound pricey, but if your business needs consistently fast speeds and plenty of bandwidth, it’s a worthwhile investment.
However, with a leased line, you may not necessarily need the same bandwidth as a regular line. Because the line is exclusively linked to your business, there’s no competition from neighbouring users, taking up less bandwidth. So, despite the line being more expensive, you could save some cash by taking out a line with lesser bandwidth than you expected.
Leased lines can take considerably longer to install than other business broadband because it requires a bespoke line to be fitted between your business and your closest fibre box. What complicates matters further is that the installation process can last for months if more complex measures like road closures or digging are required to lay the lines. Plus, the longer the process takes, the longer a business may have to pay to facilitate the installation. But once all this unpleasantness is out of the way, businesses can get on with their work with one of the most reliable internet connections around.
Working with a knowledgeable provider will help to mitigate potential disruption and project manage the installation process, to ensure it is time efficient.
Some businesses see the stellar upload and download speeds offered by leased lines and become entranced.But smaller businesses with average data needs likely wouldn’t feel the full benefits of such a fast internet connection. For example, a company with a small office and only 5-10 members of staff wouldn’t utilise the full speeds and bandwidth capabilities offered by a leased line. Whereas a company with a large office and lots more staff members would take advantage of leased line speeds and reliability.
The same can be said for businesses with limited numbers of internet-connected devices or reliance on internet speeds. But businesses who run large portions of their company solely using the power of the internet (like VOIP phone systems) will absolutely benefit from a leased line. If your business won’t be using mass amounts of data every day, you won’t need to shell out on leased lines and should seek out a cheaper alternative. However, if you’re a fast-growing business with many members of staff and a continued reliance on internet-powered technology, you should consider leased lines.
At Elite Group, our highly experienced team is well-versed in all forms of reliable business broadband, including fibre-leased lines.If your business requires an internet boost, Elite Group is here to advise you on your next move. Get in touch today to find out more.