Should I Choose A Leased Line?

It’s well known that a leased line is often a very expensive option when compared with other connection types. However, an old adage tends to apply here: you get what you pay for.

Why choose a leased line? You should choose a leased line for the following:

  • Superfast Speeds
  • Unparalleled Reliability
  • The Best SLAs

To reveal exactly why a leased line is the best connection type, I’ve created this blog post as an in-depth comparison. I’ll be comparing leased lines with three other business-grade connections: FTTC, FTTP, and EFM. I’ll also discuss whether or not your business actually needs a leased line.

Speeds of a Leased Line

One reason to choose a leased line is if you’re wanting super fast guaranteed speeds. In the table below, you can see leased line speeds compared with the speeds available with other business-grade connections.

Business-Grade Connections Speed Comparison

Maximum Speeds
Leased Line10Gbps (Symmetric)
FTTC80Mbps Down/20Mbps Up
FTTP1Gbps Down/220Mbps Up
EFM35Mbps (Symmetric)

As expected, leased lines offer far greater speeds than any other business-grade connection. One of the best reasons to choose a leased line is the ability to choose your own speeds – and actually get those speeds, as speeds are guaranteed!

The speeds available on a leased line range from 20Mbps to 10Gbps. You choose the speeds that you require and those are the speeds that you get. Depending on the bearer that you choose, you’ll be able to increase your speeds in the future as your demand increases. For smaller businesses, 20Mbps will more than suffice, particularly when you consider that these speeds are guaranteed. Your connection isn’t shared with anybody, so even at peak times you won’t notice your broadband slowing down or dropping.

With a leased line, you choose your own speeds. You can increase your speeds in the future depending on the bearer that you choose.

Speeds on a leased line are symmetric. If you’re unsure what this means, it means your download and upload speed will be the same. The majority of connections are asymmetric, which means the upload and download speed is different. Usually, the upload speed will be much slower than the download speed. This can pose a big problem if the work you do depends on good upload speeds, such as regularly uploading videos to YouTube and uploading files to cloud storage.

FTTC and FTTP are both contended services. This means that one connection into the exchange is shared amongst several businesses in your area. Traditionally, the contention ratio on business-grade services was around 20:1, meaning 20 businesses essentially shared the same line. Now, contention happens at a national level and isn’t so significant. But contention can still have a big impact, especially on slower connections. If multiple businesses are using the internet at the same time, capacity will be lower. This means the bandwidth available to your business will be lower, which may mean you can’t do what you need to because of slow internet.

EFM is perhaps the best alternative to a leased line, because it offers guaranteed symmetric speeds. Ethernet first mile (EFM) uses copper bonded pairs to to provide good speeds to your property. The drawback of this technology is relatively slow speeds compared to those you would get on a full-fibre connection. Due to the use of copper lines, EFM can only reliably reach speeds of 20Mbps. On the upside, these speeds are normally guaranteed and might be more than enough for your business.

Reliability of a Leased Line

There’s business-grade connections and then there’s leased lines. The two are worlds apart in many ways, even when it comes to reliability. When comparing leased lines and other business-grade connections, it’s easy to see why businesses can rely on leased lines.

Business-Grade Connections Reliability Comparison

Leased Line99.9% Guarantee
FTTCNo Guarantee
FTTP99% Target Uptime
EFM99.95% Guarantee

As you would expect, a leased line is one of the most reliable connections available. While I’ve said 99.9% guaranteed, several providers sell leased lines with a 100% guaranteed uptime if you take up their resilience services too. If a reliable connection is a must for your business, you simply cannot get better than a leased line. A leased line uses fibre optic cable, which is particularly resilient to breakages and interference. In addition, hardware of the highest quality is used to establish the connection at both the exchange and in your property. This results in unprecedented uptime. It goes without mentioning that, in the unlikely occurrence of something going wrong with your line, providers offer incredible fix time targets. Every supplier I looked at as part of researching this blog post offered a target fix time of 7 hours or better. Some providers offered a target fix time of only 4 hours!

FTTC packages don’t usually include uptime guarantees. While FTTC is considered to be a business-grade connection, is it really a connection you can rely on if it could drop at any time? According to a study conducted by Beaming, day-to-day operations grind to a halt completely at 38% of companies when their connection fails. Additionally, 13% of firms start losing money immediately in the event of an outage. Could your business and its staff still work productively if your connection dropped? If the answer’s no, you really cannot rely on an FTTC connection.

Day-to-day operations grind to a halt completely at 38% of companies when their connection fails.

Most providers offer an SLA with their FTTP connections, although usually on their more expensive packages. FTTP connections tend to have a target uptime of 99%, so for most businesses FTTP would be reliable enough. As with a leased line, a fibre to the premises connection is full fibre. Full fibre connections always tend to be more reliable than connections involving copper, as FTTC does.

Ethernet First Mile connections are usually available with a 99.95% uptime guarantee. For a connection that relies on copper lines to provide connectivity to your property, this is substantial. So why can such an impressive uptime be guaranteed? EFM offers impressive circuit resilience as if one of the copper pairs fails, the circuit can continue without it and you’ll still have your connection. So while EFM still uses copper, uptime can be guaranteed as other pairs will continue to provide a connection even when one fails.


An SLA is a service level agreement. In regards to internet connections, SLAs will normally cover things such as uptime and performance. If your package has an SLA, this is a reassurance that you have a connection your business can rely on. However, most providers offer money back if they fail to offer the service that they promise as part of their SLA.

Business-Grade Connections SLA Comparison

Does connection have SLA?
Leased LineYes

Unsurprisingly, all leased lines come with a service level agreement. Depending on the provider that you choose, this SLA will usually promise 99.9% – 100% uptime. Additionally, it will likely contain a performance guarantee that assures you will always have certain speeds available on your connection. All leased line SLAs are pretty similar, so no matter the provider you choose you should have a suitable agreement in place. Before signing up with a supplier, you should take the time to read through the SLA and ensure it offers the protection that your business needs.

Every Leased Line SLA stated a target fix time of 7 hours or less. In the unlikely occurrence of your connection dropping, you’ll be up and running again in quickly.

As part of my research for this blog post, I couldn’t find any providers offering an SLA with their FTTC packages. If you need a reliable connection for your business, this immediately raises some concerns. With no uptime or fix time guarantees, FTTC really isn’t a connection that a business can rely on long-term. In the event of an outage, who knows how long you could be left without your connection?

FTTP connections typically come with SLAs. The SLA that you get with FTTP will contain uptime and fix time targets. Note that I say targets here and not guarantees. The SLA that comes with FTTP packages is nowhere near as good as the one that comes with a leased line. For example, I found FTTP SLAs promising a fix time of 2 days. With a leased line, the maximum I’ve seen is 7 hours. While FTTP connections tend to be fairly reliable, if your connection drops you could be waiting a while for it to be fixed.

The SLA you get with EFM is often comparable to that you would get with a leased line. As part of researching this post, I looked at numerous suppliers and most had SLAs with fix times of around 7 – 10 hours. The SLAs also contained assurances of brilliant uptime as we saw in the last point.

Do You Need A Leased Line?

Are you asking yourself whether or not your business actually needs a leased line? To answer that question, there are several smaller questions that also need answering. The answers to these questions will determine whether or not your business needs a leased line:

  • How many employees does your business have?
  • Is an internet connection essential for your day-to-day operation?
  • Does your business use cloud services such as VoIP?
  • How much data are you downloading and uploading on a daily basis?

You know your business better than anyone, so it’s up to you to answer the questions above. However, I can tell you that a leased line would be the best option for you if:

  • You have a very big office and lots of employees that will be using the internet at the same time
  • You will be downloading and uploading lots of data the vast majority of the time
  • You use cloud service that your business depends on to operate, such as a VoIP phone system or cloud-based billing software
  • Your business wouldn’t be able to operate at all if you lost your internet connection suddenly

If any of the above applies to you, a leased line is certainly a viable option when choosing an internet connection for your business. A leased line does cost more than any other of the business-grade connections I’ve mentioned, but, to use an old adage once again, you get what you pay for. If you need reliable internet all of the time and your business couldn’t operate without your connection, you need to pay extra for an ultra-reliable, super fast connection.

Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell has been the Operations manager at telecoms and MSP Optionbox for more than 4 years. He has played a crucial role in the company, from marketing to helpdesk, and ensures that the IT requirements of over 300 clients are continuously met. With his innate passion for technology and troubleshooting and a particular interest in Apple products, Jack now delivers the most comprehensive tech guides to make your life easier. You can connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

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