Leased Line ISP – Why Your Business Needs One, and How To Pick The Right One For Your Business

A leased line ISP provides symmetric, dedicated Internet connections.

Most ISPs provide contended asymmetric connections, using ADSL or cable. These are fine for consumers, but they're often inadequate for business. Here's why…

Most ADSL Connections offer only a pitiful upload speed, e.g. 0.8Mbps. That's a mere fraction of the download speed that is promoted in the ads for ADSL.

Businesses often need more upstream bandwidth than consumers, as businesses need to send large files and spreadsheets to customers and suppliers, upload files to their web site, and let staff access corporate files and emails from home. Many businesses also use Voice-over-IP to reduce their phone bills. All of these applications grind to a halt if there's not enough upstream bandwidth.

Leased line ISPs will provide you with far more upstream bandwidth than consumer ISPs do. For example if you get a 10Mbps connection from a leased line ISP, you'll get 10Mbps downstream AND upstream.

A leased line ISP provides a dedicated connection that is reserved just for your business. Your connection won't slow down markedly at peak times when other customers of your ISP are using their connections to the max.

If your Internet connection at home goes down it's an irritant. If your Internet connection at work goes down it's far more serious: You can't read your customers' emails. You can't send them email. Any business processes that depend on online checks grind to a halt. For example, you can't credit-check your new customers, or order from many of your suppliers. For this reason, it's vital that your internet connection can be fixed fast whenever there's a problem.

Leased Line ISPs know that businesses can't afford to be without Internet access. So they usually provide extended hours of support, and buy data circuits from carriers that provide them with Service Level Agreements, target fix times and clear fault escalation paths.

Leased line ISPs don't usually own the fibre-optic cable or copper phone lines over which your connection runs. Even if you buy from the big-name ISPs, your usually dealing with the retail division. The actual physical cable or copper will be leased from a wholesale division that doesn't deal with the general public. It will deal with the 'physical stuff': conducting a site survey, getting the required permissions from building owners, digging up the pavement to lay cable, connecting your building to the network, running cable up through your building's risers, testing that the connection works and so on.

Your leased line ISP will provide the 'customer-facing' services: marketing, selling, solution design, equipment configuration, installation subsidy, first-line customer support and service monitoring.

You can often get better value services from a value-added-reseller than from the retail divisions of the big name ISPs. In both cases, you'll get the same underlying circuits. Many VARs are often carrier agnostic. They won't force you to buy all the underlying circuits from one carrier. So, you may save money by picking and choosing different carriers at different sites, based on price. Secondly, VARs may be able to offer better resilience, by combining circuits from several different carriers.

Leased line ISPs tend to have far fewer customers than the large consumer-centric ISPs. So they tend to have a closer relationship with their customers, as you tend to deal with the same small team of people whenever you have a problem. In contrast, the big-name consumer ISPs have such large teams that you may never speak to the same customer support person twice.

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