Businesses are fortunate to have a fairly wide range of options when it comes to choosing a dedicated internet access solution. Of course, each potential service poses its own particular set of technological challenges, key features and costs. As in many other areas of the information technology sector, traditional higher-priced dedicated internet access services have recently been challenged by lower cost, technologically innovative alternatives which are gaining serious ground in the UK market.
The gold standard of business connectivity has for many years been the dedicated leased line. A leased line (also known as an E1, E3, Frame Relay or OC line), is a permanent connection established between two distinct geographical points, such as two offices of the same company, or a bank and a remote financial institution. This connection is not shared with any other users on the telecommunications company’s network, and as such it guarantees stable bandwidth and excellent data security. It is an ‘always on’ proposition and is one of the most reliable ways for a business to either transfer data or access the internet. Leased lines can be configured to handle a variety of different transfer speeds, and usually feature excellent support and Service Level Agreements (SLA) from the provider. A leased line can also be part of a Wide Area Network access solution, which allows a Local Area Network (LAN) to connect to other LAN’s and the internet at large.
Unfortunately, the costs associated with leased lines are some of the most expensive in the industry. The installation lead-in times, cost of installation and the maintenance and access fees imposed upon the line subscriber can be daunting for many small businesses. The distance between the business, the provider, and the sites that are to be linked together also play a significant role in increasing the price of a leased line. These factors, combined with recent innovations in connectivity technology, have allowed for several viable leased line alternatives to make their way to the fore.
Digital Subscriber Lines (also known as DSL, ADSL, SDSL, and ADSL Max) have long been avoided by companies seeking quick and reliable internet access and data transfer. Originally positioned as a consumer technology, DSL is based on a switching data connection technology that shares its bandwidth with a host of other customers accessing the provider’s network. However, Bonded ADSL uses multiple DSL circuits working together as one in order to get around many of the traffic congestion issues typically associated with this type of connection. Bonded ADSL is now offered with the robust SLA that businesses require, as well as excellent transfer speeds. Installation is also quicker and more flexible than that of a leased line. In addition, costs are significantly lower when compared to standard leased lines. The recent infrastructure upgrades made as a result of Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) and the emergence of next generation ADSL services such as Annex M DSL means that bonded DSL will continue to improve in terms of bandwidth and availability.
Ethernet circuits are another less expensive option for those who seek a high bandwidth corporate connectivity solution. These Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are built over Ethernet links forged from point-to-point on either a city, regional or national scale. The primary advantage of a VPN is that it enables a company to offer the same level of broadband connectivity to as many offices and remote workers as necessary, as well as provide access to geographically-specific resources from anywhere within the network – including internet access. Bandwidth over this type of connection can be scaled up to a very high level, and it mimics a LAN in terms of functionality. The single connection point design also decreases connection and installation costs.
You can access the full white paper ‘Compare DSL, Leased Line and Ethernet – Dedicated Internet Access Buyer’s Guide’ here