Leased Line Alternatives - What To Do If You Can't Afford a Leased Line

If you'd like a leased line, but can't afford even a cheap one, you may be in luck. There are quite a few leased line alternatives.

Leased Line Alternative #1: ADSL

ADSL is asymmetric. Unlike a leased line, the upload speed doesn't match the download speed.

Secondly, ADSL is usually contended, rather than dedicated. This means that your connection might slow down at peak times when lots of other users are trying to use their connections at the same time as you.

It is possible to get dedicated ADSL connections. These can be seen as being similar to leased lines, with the exception that their upstream speeds are slower than their download speeds.

ADSL comes in a variety of variants. Which ones are available to you will depend on the equipment that's been installed in your local telephone exchange.

ADSL Variant Max. Download Speed Max. Upload Speed Availability
ADSL 8Mbps 1Mbps 5500 Exchanges
ADSL2+ 24 Mbps 1.3 Mbps 2700 Exchanges
ADSL2+M 20 Mbps? 2.5Mbps 2700 Exchanges

Don't bet on seeing these speeds. These are best case scenarios, seldom achievable unless you actually live at the telephone exchange. The further away you are from your local telephone exchange, the lower will be the actual speeds you'll see.

ADSL providers will be able to provide you with an estimate of the speeds you are likely to get.

Leased Line Alternative #2: FTTC

FTTC is sometimes referred to as 'Fibre Broadband.' You might think of it as ADSL on steroids.

FTTC Variant Max. Download Speed Max. Upload Speed Availability
FTTC 40Mbps 10Mbps 21m homes (out of around 28m)
FTTC2 80 Mbps 20 Mbps 21m homes (out of around 28m)

It's much better than ADSL... if you can get it.

The problem is that it's only available when both the local telephone exchange AND the cabinet nearest to you have BOTH been enabled. Lots of exchanges are enabled. But lots of cabinets haven't been.

Generously-minded people might say that the roll-out has been designed with the needs of residential customers in mind. Cynics might say that there's a suspiciously low level of availability in business districts, almost as if certain companies didn't want to give businesses a cheaper alternative to leased lines. So the likelihood of FTTC or FTTC2 being available to business premises is far, far lower than the above figures would suggest.

Like ADSL the speeds above are 'up to' speeds. The actual speeds you would see would depend on how close you are to your local cabinet.

Leased Line Alternative #3: SDSL

SDSL is the symmetric sibling of ADSL. As with ADSL, the maximum speed will depend on how close you are to your local telephone exchange. Like ADSL, SDSL comes in both contended and uncontended options.

Around 900 of the UK's 5500 telephone exchanges have been SDSL-enabled.  In most areas, it was offered at speeds of 0.5Mbps, 1Mbps and 2Mbps. Some alternative providers offered speeds of 4Mb or even 8Mb. Though, as we'll see in a second, there's now a better option.

Around 1000 of the UK's 5500 telephone exchanges can get a product called EFM which can usually provide 10Mbps of dedicated symmetric connectivity. Most SDSL providers have stopped pushing dedicated SDSL, as EFM is more widely available, it offers higher speeds and it delivers a more reliable connection.

Our free leased line cost checker finds out whether EFM is available where you are. It doesn't mention this (as we don't want to confuse visitors with unnecessary acronyms). However, if you run a quote, and give us a call, we'll tell you whether the leased line's price is based on copper EFM circuit(s) or a fibre-optic circuit.

Leased Line Alternative #4: Satellite Broadband

If you're seeking a leased line alternative because leased lines aren't available in your rural location, satellite broadband may be an option. The downsides are...

  • horribly high latency (delay in data reaching you)
  • high costs
  • you'll need a satellite dish

We really wouldn't recommend satellite broadband, unless you have no alternative.

You May Not Need An Alternative

Don't assume a leased line would be too expensive.

Leased line prices have fallen, and they may be a lot cheaper than you'd expect.

Take a few seconds to request a quote using our free leased line pricing tool.

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