10gb Leased Line - Insider's Guide to Availability, Costs and Installation

It's not just broadband that's getting faster. Increasingly, a minority of digitally-savvy UK businesses are ordering 10gb leased lines. Here are the key things you need to know about these connections.

They're Still Rare

1gb is currently on its way to overtake 100mb as the default speed choice for UK leased line buyers.

10 gigabits per second connection speeds are still rare - just used for linking large offices to other large offices, large offices to the Internet, and data centres to other data centres.

These high-bandwidth connections are currently far more popular with service providers such as ISPs, mobile networks and giant organisations rather than typical organisations.

10gb Leased Lines Are Geographically Available Throughout Most of The UK

There are some exceptions, obviously. Generally, if you look outside the window and all you can see is grass/mud and you see more farm animals than Starbucks, don't hold your breath.

However, 10Gbps leased lines are generally available within a 25km radial distance of Openreach (BT) exchanges, provided the real path isn't more than about 40km. That means, these connections are widely available, though you generally can't get online pricing for them at the time of writing.

25km is 15.53 miles - quite a distance. So you don't even have to be particular close to an Openreach node to be able to order a 10Gb leased line.

Internet service providers such as ourselves can order what are known as Ethernet Access Direct (EAD) 10000 circuits from Openreach, with the other end of the circuit being handed-off to us at one of our data centres. There, we would typically add Internet access or link the circuit to others you might have, to form a WAN (wide area network).

BT's Openreach subsidiary isn't the only one providing 10Gbps circuits. Throughout much of the UK, Virgin Media can provide them too. We work with both Openreach and Virgin Media, to ensure we can compare wholesale prices for both options.

Bear in mind that you're not just limited to buying (i.e. at retail) from BT and Virgin. Their retail arms can order 10Gbps circuits, but so can ISPs such as ourselves.

How much does a 10gb leased line cost?

That depends on where you are. As a broad guide, the circuit itself costs two to three times as much as a 1Gbps circuit. The cost of Internet access isn't quite linear but it's not far off, so 10Gbps of unmetered Internet access costs about 10x as much as 1Gbps of unmetered Internet access.

Although people tend to think of a 'leased line' as a fat symmetrical Internet connection, it's usually two elements - a connection linking you to your ISP, and on top of that, unmetered Internet access.

For low-bandwidth circuits, the Internet access costs are often bundled into the price. For 10Gbps or 100Gbps connections, that tends not to be the case, as frankly, it costs your provider quite a bit of money to deliver 10Gbps or 100Gbps of Internet access.

If you'd like a quote, we'd suggest using the pricing tool above, selecting 1Gbps, leave your contact details then call us up on 020 7847 4510 and say 'actually, I'd really like a 10Gbps leased line to that address!' That way, we have the full address, the right postcode and the contact details we'll need to get back to you. Also, our system checks you can get the speed you've selected before asking for contact details, so it's a good way to check you're within standard coverage areas.

Unfortunately, we can't provide you with instant pricing, as we need to get a quote from our suppliers first, and they don't provide us with high-bandwidth circuit prices via their APIs currently.

Is a 10gbps leased line a fibre-optic circuit?

Yes. In due course, it may be possible to create connections that offer 10gbps over copper wiring over reasonable distances - hundreds of metres - but at the time of writing that's a long way off.

This need for fibre has big implications for the circuit installation. Except for a few thousand high-occupancy buildings in London, if you want a wired connection of the high speeds we've mentioned, someone is almost going to have to do civil engineering work to deliver your connection - blowing fibre along existing ducts, or creating new ducts.

As a result, the installation time for 10gb leased lines is typically 90+ working days.

What else do I need to know?

You've got to think about your LAN. Let's say we deliver a 10Gbps leased line to your site. Can your existing firewall cope with filtering 10Gbps of traffic? Does your existing network switch have 10Gbps ports?

It's worth considering whether you really need a typical 10gbps leased line with Internet access, or whether what you really need is a point-to-point circuit, without Internet break-out.

Another point you need to consider is resilience. If you're paying for a 10Gpbs circuit, it'a extremely likely that what you're doing is so business-critical that you'll need a backup connection too. Not necessarily 10Gbps's worth of connectivity, but probably at least 1Gbps to tide you over any downtime.

That backup circuit should typically be from a different underlying carrier to the primary circuit, or at least terminate at a different POP, so most faults won't drag down both the primary and secondary circuits simultaneously. Carrier-independent ISPs such as ourselves can set you up with connections from multiple underlying carriers.

Also, bear in mind that many online speed tests can't cope with speeds of over 1Gbps.

Why 10Gbps Leased Line Costs Are Likely to Fall

In 2019, most talk about gigabit broadband was just that - talk. More about press releases than fibre in the ground.

However, in the early 2020's, we're likely to see a slow roll-out of 1Gbps broadband connections through UK business-districts and high-density urban areas.

Historically, digging up pavements and roads to lay fibre-optic broadband networks was ruinously expensive and a terrible investment. NTL lost so much money it sought chapter-11 bankruptcy-protection. Telewest shareholders lost 98.5% of their equity following a debt-for-equity swap. Colt - which built its network in sensible business-rich areas like the City of London - lost hundreds of millions.

But Venture Capitalists have short memories and BT has taken on board suggestions from politicians of all parties that it should invest more in fibre (or face Ofcom divesting it of its golden goose, Openreach).

Complaints about slow broadband speeds from 'left behind' areas, and politicians forever keen on popular, easy-to-explain policies inevitably leads to a series of Government subsidises for gigabit broadband rollouts.

This will lead to 1Gbps leased line prices falling, as backhaul costs are driven down, causing firms to upgrade their ambitions. 1Gbps will become the new 100Mbps. 10Gbps will become the new 1Gbps. And most businesses will retire their own email servers in favour of hosted versions offered by Microsoft (Office 365's hosted Exchange), Google (GSuite - GMail with your own domain name) and others (e.g. AWS WorkMail).

From 2023, the 3rd generation of 5G will arrive, offering multi-Gigabit speeds - at a high cost per gigabit. However, this will help reset business people's expectations in terms of speeds. They won't want slower Internet at work than they get at home or when using their mobile. Gradually, 10Gb connections will no longer seem particularly extravagant.

The 10Gbps leased line installation process

Once you order the circuit, your leased line provider will order a more basic connection (without Internet, without kit, without monitoring) from its wholesale supplier(s). These suppliers are known as carriers. They will conduct a survey, to figure out what needs to happen to physically connect your site to their customer - your ISP. If it turns out this will be more complicated than expected, they may refuse to proceed unless the leased line provider pays them extra - so called Excess Construction Charges. These occur in a substantial minority of cases, and will usually get passed on to you. Like your ISP, you have the option of paying up for the order to go ahead or saying 'forget it, I'm not willing to pay that.'

The carrier may need to request a wayleave from your landlord and permission from the local authority for any digging up of the road/pavement that may be required. After they have been granted any necessary permissions, they will schedule any civil engineering work required, tested the circuit themselves. Your leased line provider is likely to want to test the circuit themselves too.

Unless you order a 'wires only' service, your leased line provider will typically loan you a pre-configured high-capacity router. This will need to be plugged in at your location.

Typically, you will plug that router into your firewall, or into a network switch.

Have another question about 10Gbps leased lines?

If so, give us a call on 020 7847 4510 and we'll do our best to help.