Dedicated line: A cost-effective solution for businesses
How dedicated lines are used
A dedicated line is a fixed-bandwidth data connection that is typically used by businesses to link two locations together.
They can be used to provide a fast, reliable connection to the Internet, to link a company's different offices together, and to carry phone calls. They can also be used to link data centres together so that businesses can replicate business-critical data to a backup site for Disaster Recovery purposes.
As the name suggests, dedicated lines are reserved solely for the use of one business, ensuring that the bandwidth available doesn't drop at peak times, when other clients of the same ISP are trying to use their own connections simultaneously.
The price of a dedicated line has fallen by over 90% over the last few decades and it is continuing to fall. This means that most UK businesses with more than a dozen employees can afford a dedicated circuit.
Dedicated lines: The business benefits
High-speed dedicated lines offer significant business benefits, particularly if you use them to carry Internet traffic:
- Improved staff productivity, from eliminating slow Internet connections - When your Internet access is slow, your staff are forced to wait longer than necessary for web sites to load or for files to download. While ADSL is a great option for consumers at home, offices often have dozens or hundreds of staff sharing a single connection, which causes the speed of ADSL connections to drop to painfully slow levels. Dedicated lines can deliver higher speeds than ADSL. For example 100Mbit/s upstream & downstream is common. That's far more than ADSL can deliver in most locations (12Mbit/s downstream, 1Mbit/s upstream).
- Share IT Resources Across Multiple Sites - Many organisations use dedicated lines to link their office Local Area Networks together to form a Wide Area Network. This allows IT resources to be shared between sites, so that you only need one email server for all sites, instead of one server at each site. Similarly you can share file servers, SANs, PBXs, Tape drives etc. This saves you money (you need fewer of each type of resource), and it simplifies your IT - making it easier to manage.
- A more reliable Internet connection - If your ADSL connection goes down, it could be down for days. That's days in which your company can't read emails from your customers. That's days where you can't email your customers or suppliers. Dedicated connections typically come with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that gives you assurances that any fault will be fixed in hours, rather than days, with financial penalties paid if the connection is down for any longer.
- Faster uploads - All the adverts for Internet access focus on the download speed. Seldom to they mention the upload speed. And that's because it is often paltry in comparison. The average upload speed of ADSL is a meagre 0.8Mbps or so. This is fine for most consumers, but it's often inadequate for businesses who need more upstream bandwidth i) to allow several members of staff to use 'remote desktop protocol' simultaneously ii) to allow servers at Head Office site to serve data to users in other offices, homeworkers and Internet users iv) to allow the site to stream video or to use video conferencing v) to backup data to a Disaster Recovery site.
- Cost Savings from deploying VoIP - Traditionally businesses would give each office its own in-house telephone exchange (called a PBX), and connect that to the phone system using expensive ISDN circuits. But it's now possible to connect your PBX to the phone network using a dedicated line instead. This is often cheaper than ISDN, both in terms of the circuit rental costs per Mb/s of bandwdith, and in terms of how much you pay for external calls. It's possible to use dedicated circuits to connect your offices together so one PBX serves multiple sites, and calls within the company are free, as they travel over your dedicated connections without touching the public telephone network.
- Unmetered connectivity - Most dedicated circuits are entirely unmetered. That means that you can use them to the full, day and night, 24x7. There's no 'monthly usage quota,' to worry aboout and no 'fair usage' policy that will trigger your connection to be slowed down if you use your connection too much.
A dedicated line provides dedicated bandwidth to businesses
Key elements that determine how much a dedicated line will cost
The price of a dedicated line depends on three main factors: the location being conncted, the amount of bandwidth required and the length of the contract being signed.
The location of the office plays a major role in determining the cost of the line, as this affects how difficult it will be to connect the office to the pre-existing telecoms networks. If the business base already has fibre-optic leased lines running into the building, connecting a dedicated line could be simple. However, if the supplier your ISP will use isn't in your building, installing a leased line could involve more civil engineering works, and consequently take longer (and possibly cost more).
The amount of bandwidth required by a business will also impact cost levels, as those requiring high levels of bandwidth may need to use a fibre connection, while those seeking lower levels of bandwidth may be able to take advantage of Ethernet First Mile over copper, which is available at around one in five telephone exchanges, and which can sometimes be a cheaper way of delivering a dedicated connection than using fibre-optic cable.
The contract length can greatly affect the cost of a dedicated circuit as such connections are quite expensive to install. As most businesses are loathed to spend thousands of pounds in installation fees, leased line providers tend to absorb these installation charges, then recoup this outlay over the life of the contract. The vast majority of businesses sign three to five year contracts to avoid being charged an installation fee. Businesses that are looking to sign a shorter contract can do so, but typically they will have to pay a 4-figure installation charge and a higher monthly fee for the privilege.
The best way to find out how much a dedicated line will cost you is to check what technologies & carriers are available at your postcode. Doing this used to take days, but we've automated the process, and created a free tool that provides a near-instant price for a dedicated line to your location, based on wholesale quotes from all the major UK carriers.