hSo Guide to Leased Lines

The Basics of Leased Lines

What is a Leased Line?

It's a data connection that's typically used to provide reliable, high-speed connectivity to offices and data centres. The connection may link a site to the Internet or to another site. Large organisations often use leased lines to connect sites to their organisation's wide area network.

Leased line connections are dedicated, symmetrical and unmetered. They are usually faster and more reliable than broadband and come with business-class support.

Benefits of a Leased Line

More bandwidth than broadband – Leased lines can deliver up to 10 Gbps of connectivity to most UK business sites. Speeds of 100Mbps, 300Mbps, 500Mbps and 1Gbps are common.

Consistent speeds – Bandwidth is reserved exclusively for your use, so your connection's throughput doesn't fall when your ISP’s other customers use their connections.

Fast upload speeds – Leased line connection speeds are symmetrical, meaning you get the same high speed upstream as you get downstream. This is ideal for VoIP, remote desktop sessions, online data backup, video conferencing, server hosting and sending large files.

Unlimited data transfer – You can use your connection flat out, all the time. There are no extra charges for exceeding some arbitrary monthly quota. No-one's going to slow down your connection if you exceed an unspecified ‘fair usage’ limit.

Business-class support – When you ring up for support, you won’t have to wait ages while being told by a recorded message that ‘Your call is important to us!’ Instead, you should receive responsive, proactive support 24/7 from technically knowledgeable professionals.

Fast fault fixes – If your leased line goes down due to a physical fault, the problem is likely to be fixed in hours, not days.

Better reliability than broadband – Your connection will most likely be based on fibreoptic circuits, not copper ones that are more vulnerable to electro-magnetic interference.

Leased Line Drawbacks

Cost – Leased lines are far more expensive than broadband connections.

Longer contracts – Three year contracts are standard. Shorter contracts are available but tend to require the payment of substantial installation charges.

Longer installation times – 30-65 working days or more, versus 10-15 for broadband.

Make the Most of Your Leased Line

  • Use your leased line to carry phone calls - If you’ve got an on-site PBX, you can connect it to he wider phone network using SIP trunks, letting your calls travel over your leased line. If you’re using ISDN, switching to SIP can save your organisation a lot of money – in lower call charges and reduced ISDN circuit rental fees. If your PBX is old or many of your staff work from home occasionally, you may prefer to bin your current PBX and switch to a Cloud PBX service. These offer a broad range of enterpriseclass features, such as apps for iPhones and Android devices, to organisations of all sizes. Check that the leased line supplier can prioritise VoIP traffic on your line to protect call quality.
  • Use your leased line for online backup - There’s really no excuse for not keeping backups of your business-critical data off-site. Online backup makes it easy. Your data is automatically backed up to a hosted repository. If your original data is lost or corrupted, you can instantly start restoring the lost data from offsite disk-based backups without needing to wait for tapes to be retrieved. Prices have fallen massively. Most organisations can now afford to backup terabytes of data.
  • Use your leased line to privately connect to Public Clouds you heavily rely on - If your organisation relies on hosted services offered by AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Salesforce or Microsoft, it may be worth getting a dedicated connection to these clouds. These direct connections cut network latency and bypass Internet congestion, making the relevant services appear more responsive. There are also potential security benefits.
  • Use your leased line to support remote working - Your leased line will probably provide more than enough bandwidth for you to allow lots of your staff to simultaneously connect to their work computers from home via a VPN. This ‘remote desktop’ approach helps protect your organisation’s data – as confidential files stay on the work computers, with only screen shots and keystrokes being seen by the employee owned devices. Staff don’t need additional software licences as they just use the software already installed on their work computers. If you pick an SSL VPN, staff may be able to log on using their existing web browsers, without needing to install VPN software.

The Cost of Leased Lines

That will largely depend on the factors below.

To get a custom quote for your own location, call us on 020 7847 4510.

Location The closer you are to existing telecoms networks, the cheaper your leased line is likely to be. This is because it’s cheaper to run cables through existing telecoms ducts than to dig up pavements and roads to lay new ducts.
Bandwidth requirement The more bandwidth you want, the more your leased line will cost. As a rough rule of thumb, if you increase the bandwidth ten-fold, the cost will double.
Contract length The shorter the contract, the higher the installation fee. Some leased line providers offer free installation on contracts of three years or more.
Carrier preferences In any given location, some wholesale connectivity suppliers (carriers) will be cheaper than others. If you express a preference for using or avoiding a particular carrier’s network, this may impact the pricing.
Resilience requirements A backup connection can help you stay connected even if your main leased line goes down. The cost of these secondary connections varies widely, depending on which options you pick.
Internet access requirements Internet access tends to be included in most leased line quotes. However, if you get a connection faster than 1Gbps, Internet access may be charged for separately.

The Leased Line Installation Process

If you order from hSo, here is what happens next...

  1. Initial checks – We check the contract is correct, credit check your organisation, add you to our digital customer records, check pricing is still valid, and check that the solution is technically deliverable and appropriate to meet your requirements.
  2. Service Delivery contacts you – Your order is assigned to a project manager who will manage the installation and be your point of contact throughout the installation process. He or she will ask you to confirm the full delivery address (including precisely where in the building the leased line needs to go). You’ll be asked to confirm that power and rackspace are available, and to provide contact details of people who can arrange access to the site.
  3. Circuit(s) ordered by hSo – Once we have the information we require, your project manager will order connectivity from one or more wholesale suppliers, known as carriers.
  4. Carrier proposes ‘site survey’ date – Typically this will be within 10-14 working days. hSo tells you the proposed date. You can ask for a different date but this may cause delay.
  5. Carrier may contact landlord to seek a wayleave agreement – These agreements grant the carrier permission to install and maintain cables/equipment on the landlord’s property. Wavleaves aren’t always required and sometimes they may already be in place. Wayleave negotiations may occur before or after the site survey.

    Landlords often take their time responding. Some request detailed route plans and ask for changes to the proposed work. The longest delays in installing leased lines are always due to landlord obstruction. In multi-story buildings, the landlord may need to ask affected tenants for permission.

  6. Carrier conducts site survey – For fibre leased lines, there will need to be a boots-on-the-ground physical site visit where someone literally walks the route from their network’s nearest ‘distribution point’ to your site. They will follow the route to the point where you want the leased line to terminate in your building. For EFM/EoFTTC services there is unlikely to be a physical visit, just a desk-based exercise, as there’s no fibre cable to install. If the survey finds that connecting your site will be trickier than expected, you may be asked to pay Excess Construction Charges (ECCs) to cover the extra work involved. You can refuse, opting instead not to press ahead with connecting that site via that carrier.
  7. Carrier may contact the local authority – If the carrier needs to dig up the road or a material amount of pavement, it may need to get approval first from the local council.
  8. hSo configures managed router, sends it to your site contact – Unless you’ve chosen to order a ‘wires only’ service, we send the named site contact the router to plug in.
  9. Carrier schedules the installation work and carries it out – This may literally involve digging a trench, putting a fibre cable in it, and filling/covering the trench. Sometimes, the cable may arrive via existing ducts. The cable needs to get up to the relevant floor and the relevant termination point. This work may occur in separate stages.
  10. Carrier tests the circuit – Mainly checking throughput, packet loss and latency. This is so they can identify and fix any issues before the service is handed over to us.
  11. Your contact plugs in a router – Typically, a pre-configured ‘managed router’ we provide. Alternatively, if you have opted for a ‘wires only’ service, you provide and configure the router, using RADIUS details we supply.
  12. hSo tests the circuit – We check the connection for ourselves, often remotely.
  13. Your leased line is ‘live’ – Responsibility for your circuit passes from Service Delivery to our Customer Service Centre. If we provide a managed router, service monitoring begins. The Service Level Agreement comes into force. We begin billing you for the ongoing service.

If you order elsewhere...

Leased line providers often quote 30-65 working days. Many factors could delay installation, so we strongly recommend you order at least 90 working days (4 calendar months) before you need the leased line. When you order, your leased line provider will arrange for a survey. Only once the survey is complete will your leased line provider be in a good position to give indicative timescales.

Most leased lines are based on fibre-optic circuits that take around 65 working days to install. That’s an average, based on many orders. Some installations take longer, others are quicker.

The ’30 working days’ figure tends to apply mainly to slow leased lines based on copper circuits. These aren’t as widely available as fibre ones and the maximum speeds are far lower. Very rarely, fibre leased lines are delivered in 30 working days. Don’t bet on being that lucky!

Factors that may speed up your leased line installation

  • Relevant carrier’s fibre is already in the building – Your leased line provider’s supplier has already installed spare fibre into your building’s main communications room.
  • Carrier has already been granted a wayleave – It already has permission to install, access and maintain equipment in your building, or doesn’t require permission.
  • You own the building – There’s no landlord to delay things.

Factors that may slow down your leased line installation

...But Another Supplier Promises They Can Install My Leased Line Faster!

There will always be salesmen who will tell you what you want to hear. They know that by the time your ‘promised’ delivery date is missed, you’ll already have signed the contract and it will be too late to order afresh from a more honest supplier.

How to Get Your Leased Line Quicker

  1. Chase your colleagues to sign off the order in good time – Make sure anyone that has to approve the order knows that leased lines can take 90 working days to install. If your organisation is considering an office move, those involved in lease negotiations should be told that they need to give senior IT staff advanced notice of any move. Chase the order internally, highlighting the urgency.
  2. Offer to pay for a survey – If you’re not ready to order the leased line, but know where you want it to go, how much bandwidth you want, and you can arrange access to the site, consider paying for a survey. If you order the exact same leased line subsequently, the survey fee may be refunded. This approach might speed up installation by a week or two.
  3. Get a copper-based connection – If you need 20Mbps of connectivity or less, EFM or EoFTTC might do. These services can sometimes be installed in as little as 6 weeks (30 working days). You could use them as a stop-gap to tide you over until a faster fibre-based leased line has been installed, then use the slower copper-based service as a backup.
  4. Provide requested information rapidly – Including where precisely the leased line will terminate (the demarcation point), plus contact details for arranging access to the site.
  5. Agree to the site survey date and installation date offered – If the proposed date is slightly inconvenient, be slightly inconvenienced, rather than delay the survey/installation.
  6. Pressure your landlord, if it drags its feet – If your leased line provider says your landlord is causing delay, have someone senior at your organisation exert pressure on them to play ball – signing off a wayleave agreement, agreeing to the proposed fibre route etc.
  7. Prove you really need to queue jump and be willing to pay to do so – In very rare cases, it may be possible to have your order expedited. You have to show that the delay isn’t your fault and prove that the delay is likely to result in a significant loss of revenue, financial liability, litigation, significant damage to your brand/reputation, or serious health & safety risks. The request to expedite may need to come from a director of your leased line provider. There is no guarantee that this request will be accepted. If it is, you may be askedto pay a four-figure fee! Even if your installation date can be brought forward, there is no guarantee that your deadline will be met. Order in good time to avoid these hassles!

Leased Line Backup Connection Options

You should strongly consider getting a backup connection, so that if your leased line goes down, you are not left without connectivity. Here are the key options...

  1. FTTP broadband - Fibre to the Premises. In mid 2022, this is available to around a third of UK addresses, with coverage growing by about 1% per annum.
  2. FTTC broadband – Fibre to the Cabinet, contended. This is a popular option. It is cheap, widely available, quick to install, and for many businesses it will do. The key question is whether the speeds on offer, particularly upstream, will be adequate to meet your needs.
  3. EoFTTC – Ethernet over FTTC. Fibre to the Cabinet, uncontended. This creates a dedicated connection offering speeds of up to 20Mbps in both directions.
  4. EFM over copper – Ethernet First Mile over copper. This offers up to 20Mbps (typically far less in practice) within the service areas of 3000 of the UK’s 5600 telephone exchanges, and up to 35Mbps (again, less in practice) in the service areas of 800 telephone exchanges. Some lower-bandwidth leased lines use this technology instead of fibre-optic cabling. It uses multiple pairs of copper wires, so is more resilient than FTTC broadband or EoFTTC.
  5. Fibre leased line from a second carrier – For example, one leased line is provisioned over local circuits provided by BT’s infrastructure subsidiary Openreach and another circuit is delivered using Virgin Media’s network. Carrier-independent ISPs such as hSo can order both circuits at wholesale prices, creating a single resilient service underpinned by multiple networks. You receive one bill, there’s one support number and you get one IP address range.
  6. Fibre leased line from the same carrier, via a different path – Some carriers offer resilient options, where one leased line circuit goes via one route, and a second leased line circuit takes a different, more diverse path – one that’s separate in some places and that passes through different hardware for part of the route. Diversely routed connections aren’t necessarily 100% separate. There may be some areas of overlap.
  7. ADSL2+ – Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line 2. Now that FTTC is widely available, we’d suggest you order that instead of ADSL2+, if possible. If you do decide to get ADSL2+, consider getting the Annex M variant that offers slightly higher upload speeds.
  8. Other – There may be other alternatives: mobile networks, wireless broadband and satellite. We wouldn’t recommend any of these, unless you’re out of options. Mobile network signals struggle to penetrate most comms rooms and server rooms – as these rooms tend to be located within buildings and filled with metal racks. Even if a mobile signal is available, the data transfer charges are likely to be ruinously high. Wireless (non-mobile) broadband is only available to a small proportion of UK postcodes. It tends to require the installation of an external antenna on the building and a direct line of sight to the wireless ISP’s network. Satellite is widely available, but latency (transmission delay) is extremely high – typically around 800ms - and the connections don’t work well when there is heavy rain, sleet or snow.

Picking the Right Backup Connection

  • Get something in the way of a backup connection. Even if it’s just FTTC broadband.
  • Your secondary connection probably doesn’t need to be a like-for-like alternative to your primary leased line. 94% of physical faults on leased lines are fixed within 5 hours, so you may just need a connection that can tide you over 5-6 hours of downtime. Perhaps you can get away with a backup connection that’s slower, asymmetrical or contended, to cut costs?
  • Look at your current connection’s usage patterns to see how much bandwidth you need. Pay particular attention to the upstream requirement. This may narrow down your options.
  • If you have a 50Mbps leased line or something slower, FTTC might be an adequate backup. If you have a 100Mbps leased line, FTTC, EoFTTC or EFM might be acceptable backup options. If your leased line is faster than 100Mbps, you should consider getting a second leased line as a backup. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be as fast as the primary leased line.
  • If you need 200Mbps of connectivity to your office, one approach would be to get two 100Mbps circuits instead of one 200Mbps connection. The two circuits would be set up in an active/active configuration, so both could be used simultaneously. If your primary ased line is a 1Gbps circuit, a 100Mbps leased line might be sufficient as a backup.
  • If you’ve left ordering your fibre leased line a bit late, a copper-based backup connection (FTTC/EoFTTC/EFM over copper) might be worth getting not merely for the sake of resilience, but also to tide you over until your fibre leased line service is live.
  • When ordering two fibre circuits for resilience purposes, a carrier-independent leased line provider has two options. They could get two circuits, each from a separate carrier. Or they could get two diversely routed circuits from a single carrier.
  • The most resilient option is to have two separate circuits from two separate carriers, with traffic flowing over two separate physical networks. This is possible in much of the UK. Even where it’s not, your leased line provider can get two circuits from separate carriers. This may create a substantial amount of route diversity, though probably not full diversity, as both carriers may rely on Openreach infrastructure to link your site to the closest part of their networks.
  • Your leased line provider may be able to create a resilient service using diversely-routed circuits from a single carrier. This creates two largely separate paths to your ISP – where no single cable, equipment or nodal failure is likely to bring down both lines simultaneously. This doesn’t necessarily mean the two routes taken are 100% separate.

Renewing, Upgrading, Transferring and Moving Leased Lines


Prices for new leased lines tend to fall over time. When your leased line comes up for renewal, it’s a great opportunity to cut your bill or get more bandwidth for your money.

The cost of your existing line won’t fall automatically. You need to sign a new contract first. The extent of any saving may depend on whether you’re open to having a new physical circuit installed. If so, you may get better pricing than if you keep your current circuit in place.


A leased line has two speeds associated with it: the Committed Data Rate (CDR) and the Bearer Speed. The latter indicates the maximum capacity of the link – typically 100Mbps or 1Gbps. Upgrades that merely increase the CDR, leaving the bearer speed untouched, tend to be quick – think 3-4 weeks - unless your leased line provider changes the underlying circuit provider.

Changes to the bearer speed will require a new circuit or new equipment, so these take longer. If your leased line is delivered using EFM, you may already be at – or close to – the limits of what your connection can deliver, so upgrading may require a switch to full-fibre. Prices for different CDRs on a given bearer circuit aren’t wildly different, so you may be able to afford far more bandwidth than you would expect.

Transferring an existing carrier circuit between different lease line providers

This isn’t possible. It ought to be possible, but in practice it’s not, unfortunately. Transferring leased lines between different end-users (changing the bill payer) The old customer, the new customer and the leased line provider just need to agree to the original contract being novated, i.e. for the obligations of the contract to be transferred from one party to another.

Moving a leased line (from one location to another)

If your leased line is just moving a short distance, a ‘shift’ may be possible, for a one-off fee. Most moves involve greater distances, precluding a shift, so a new circuit is ordered at the new site, and once it goes live, the circuit at the old site is cancelled. If the old circuit is still under contract, your leased line provider may prefer to get the new circuit from the same underlying provider, to reduce contractual penalties. There will be a one-off fee. In addition, the monthly charge may change.

Why Buy Your Leased Line from hSo?

Carrier independence – We compare prices from multiple carriers, to ensure you get a great deal. We can also combine different carriers’ circuits to create resilient solutions.

Fast responses – We can give you pricing in seconds, thanks to our sophisticated systems that retrieve real-time prices from our suppliers using APIs.

Business focus – We’ve always been focused on serving businesses. We’re not a consumer-focused ISP to which business customers are merely an afterthought.

Accountability – You’ll get a clear escalation path. Unresolved faults are automatically escalated to members of hSo’s senior management team to ensure timely incident resolution, in accordance with our Service Level Agreements.

Advanced network – We have our own resilient network, linking our major data centres using resilient links. Our network can apply appropriate Classes of Service to different types of traffic. It’s a dual-stack network, supporting IPv4 and IPv6.

Resilience (core network) – We have multiple data centres, multiple circuits linking them, multiple Internet transit providers and multiple telecoms carriers. Should a link in the core network go down, Fast Reroute ensures almost instantaneous automatic re-routing of your traffic over an alternative path.

Resilience (local) – We can provide backup circuits so that if your primary connection were to go down, your business would still be connected. Backup options may include ADSL2+, FTTC, EFM (copper), fibre leased lines from alternative carriers, and resilient connections from single carriers. The options available will depend on your location.

VoIP-ready network – Our network was designed from the start to carry both data and voice traffic. It carries millions of minutes of phone calls each year and uses Class of Service options to ensure good call quality by minimising latency, jitter and packet loss.

Range of complementary services – We can provide managed firewalls, VPNs, WANs, SDWANs, SIP trunking, cloud PBX services, collocation, Public Cloud connectivity, online backup and cloud hosting.

Over 20 Years of experience – We’ve been providing leased lines for over two decades.

Trusted – Our customers include the NHS, Daily Mirror (Reach Plc) and the Salvation Army.

Blue-chip backers – Our shareholders include Aviva Investors, Legal & General Property and Ericsson.

Legal Notice

© Copyright 2014-2022 HighSpeed Office Limited, trading as hSo. All rights reserved.

No part of this guide may be published online without the explicit written consent of hSo.

This free guide is designed to provide only general guidance on Leased Lines.

Whilst HighSpeed Office Limited, trading as hSo (“hSo”) makes all reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy of the information in this guide, hSo accepts no liability to you or anyone else for any action taken in reliance on this guide.

The guide is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and before making any decision or taking any action in reliance on the information contained in the guide, an appropriate professional advisor should be consulted.

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