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What are leased lines and which one do I need?

Web Hosting Blog

Are you looking for a high-speed internet connection for your business? Then you might want to consider leased lines. But with several different options on the market, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. 

What is a leased line? 

A leased line is a dedicated, fixed-bandwidth data connection. It provides a reliable, high-quality internet connection with upload and download speed, uptime, and resilience. The line is “leased” from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) directly to a business, which results in service above and beyond what they provide as standard. Leased lines often have three characteristics: 


Leased lines must be symmetrical. 

This means they must have the same upload and download speed, unlike traditional asymmetrical broadband – which frequently sees lower upload speeds and high download speeds.

Symmetrical connections are ideal for companies using cloud services and need reliable, fast download and upload rates.


Leased lines are dedicated to one business and not shared with other users. 


Leased lines connect two points, for example, the ISP and your business.

Think about your internet connection at home, using it to watch Netflix. If you are the only person streaming in your area, your internet will be fast. But, if everyone in your area starts streaming Netflix, the internet connection is slower, and you might experience buffering. This is because these connections are “contended” – there is shared bandwidth. 

Leased lines are uncontended, so what others are doing in your local area will not affect your internet speed. 

What are the different leased line options?

EFM – Ethernet First Mile (EFM) 

EFM leased lines use bonded copper pairs to deliver symmetrical bandwidth speeds up to 30Mbps. It uses aggregated copper pairs to provide a resilient service because if one set fails, the other takes over. So, it is ideal for businesses that do not have a local fibre cabinet.

The speed you can achieve is dependent on your proximity to the exchange and the number of pairs you have. 

It is a dated technology, with EoFTTC and fibre orders becoming more popular.

Ethernet over FTTC (EoFTTC)

EoFTTC is similar to EFM but uses a mixture of copper and fibre. Businesses often use this type of connection because it is faster than EFM, but it is cheaper than other solutions on the market. If there is any drop-off in the connection, it is usually down to the copper used in the solution. 

FTTC – Fibre to Cabinet (FTTC) 

FFTC technology is where the DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Module) moves from the local exchange to a street cabinet near you. By running fibre to the enabled cabinet and the remaining connection to your premises, you replace a large proportion of the copper cables to the cabinet with fibre. So you can reach higher speeds. 

Full Fibre (also known as “Fibre Ethernet” and “Ethernet Access Direct”)

Full Fibre is what CWCS offers; it is a direct, superfast ethernet connection over 100% fibre optic cables from the business premises to the ISP—delivering speeds of around 1Gbps. It is the fastest and most reliable, but it’s also the most expensive. 

How fast can I get?

The short answer is very. 

With “standard” asymmetric fibre-optic broadband, the maximum download speed is under 100Mbps. But remember, these lines are asymmetric and contended. 

But with a fibre optic leased line, which is symmetrical and uncontended, you can reach speeds of up to 10GB. You can even define how much speed you need from your leased line, allowing you to create a solution that suits your business needs and your budget. 

Take a printing business, for example, they use cloud to store large graphic files for their customers to review. Because standard broadband services are usually asymmetrical, their upload speed is nowhere near as fast as the download speed, so the business wastes large chunks of time waiting for the files to upload. With fibre optic leased lines, they can choose an upload speed that suits them, so they won’t have to wait for long periods while the files upload.

Do I need a leased line? 

You might be thinking, ‘well, my internet is already pretty fast, so a leased line probably isn’t right for me,’ but speed is only one of the benefits of installing a leased line. 

Other reasons why you might need a leased line are: 

Speed-sensitive data transfer needs

Suppose fast data transfers are essential to your day-to-day operations; you might need to consider a leased line. This includes financial services firms that need up-to-date intelligence or eCommerce businesses that need quick reaction times on customer interactions.

If you use software as a service (SaaS) and cloud applications 

Most businesses nowadays use SaaS and cloud-based applications as standard. CRM systems, including SalesforceZoho and Hubspot, are entirely cloud-based, as well as many of the accounts and billing software on the market. 

A reliable and speedy internet connection is essential for any business handling sensitive or critical data that needs monitoring in real-time.  

If you use VoIP services 

VoIP services typically need a solid and stable internet connection – which is what a leased line guarantees. Most fibre business broadband can handle a VoIP call, but you need something more reliable when you have several concurrent calls. The high-speed, reliable and symmetrical connection that leased lines provide is the perfect solution as it has a consistently high-quality connection. 

How to pick a leased line provider for your business.

 So you’ve decided you need a leased line for your business; what’s next? Well, first, you need to find a provider. As with everything service you purchase, you need to find the right one for you. 

Here are some basic questions that you can ask potential providers: 

How will you help with the installation? 

Getting a leased line installed is a huge commitment, and you need to be ready for the process. Your chosen provider will conduct several surveys of your premises, including engineer visits and questioning. So you need to pick someone you have a good relationship with who will explain the entire process to you in a way that you understand and will cause minimal disruption. 

How will you support me? 

This goes hand-in-hand with the question above. You need to know where the support team is based and if they can do out-of-hours work on your site. It’s also good to pick someone who can help you understand your business requirements and recommend the best product at the reasonable leased line cost. You also need to understand how to raise a ticket with them if an issue arises and their average response time. 

What is the plan if there is an issue? 

Dedicated fibre optic services are very reliable. Unlike any copper-based solution, they aren’t exposed to any environmental factors, including water in the network or electronic interference. But, this doesn’t mean that they don’t go down sometimes. 

Leased lines going down are usually categorised as a priority fix, which means they should be fixed in a few hours rather than a few days. But a few hours feels like a long time when your online store is down. To combat this, you should ensure that your provider includes a backup circuit to keep you online -even if it’s on a slower service.

 If your connection is business-critical, you might need to ask for a second fibre optic leased line which uses a different route. Another option is to have a backhaul supplier to reduce the risk of downtime. 

You also need to know how to switch to the backup solution when required. The simplest way is to manually plug your equipment into the backup line if your primary circuit goes down. But, a more helpful method is for your provider to guarantee that this happens automatically, with a box on-site handling the shift to the backup service within seconds of detecting that your main circuit is down.

How we can help 

If you are ready to get a leased line or if you have more questions, get in touch with our team. We’re always prepared to help.