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When is getting a leased line appropriate?

A leased line is used to link two locations together. Leased lines offer many benefits and can be configured to offer different services, so it is important to have a clear idea of the intended use or uses if a business is to get the most of a leased-line contract.

A leased line is a dedicated high-speed connection and so 100% of the contracted bandwidth is available to the customer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is priced on a flat-rate basis that depends on the contracted speed and, usually, the distance of the connection.

The more communications traffic the leased line carries, the more cost-effective the leased-line service becomes.

Apart from lightning-fast speeds, another of the big benefits of a leased line is that the connection can be configured to give priority to applications that require a guaranteed amount of bandwidth to work reliably, such as videoconferencing or Internet telephony. Consumer-grade Internet connections cannot offer guaranteed bandwidth to critical applications as they lack a feature called Quality of Service (QoS).

A leased-line is therefore ideally suited to the type of customer who needs to support very bandwidth-intensive services and QoS-critical applications on a round-the-clock basis.

Conversely, it wouldn't make economic sense for a residential user or a small business to contract a leased line if they only want to surf the web. That's because, even if the users spend eight or ten hours of each day sitting in front of their PCs, their internet usage is intermittent and mainly consists of low-bandwidth applications - checking emails or Facebook which requires very little bandwidth, for example.

That means the average bandwidth consumed during the day would be much less than the leased line can provide. At night, or at other times when the user or users are not actively using the internet, the leased line would effectively be sitting idle in this case. But the customer pays the same price for the leased line irrespective of how much or how little bandwidth is actually used.

A leased-line is therefore best suited to a business that can make full use of the leased-line connection round the clock. For example, a business may choose a leased-line connection to host its website and also to provide internet access for an internal Network of office workers. Network usage during the day will come from the office workers surfing the web and the traffic created by visitors to its website. Leased lines are particularly useful for Voice over Internet protocols and for enabling Virtual Private Networks in the home.

Outside of office hours, the average bandwidth used will drop as the only data traffic on the leased line will be that due to its website visitors. Nevertheless, as the leased line is being utilised at night, the service becomes more cost-effective.

If a leased-line connection cannot be fully utilised by existing applications, businesses have the opportunity to dream up new ways to put the spare capacity to work. For example, at night time, the IT department could configure the Network to back-up all the data to a remote server hosted by the colocation provider where the leased line terminates.

Using the unused night-time capacity for data backups is a highly-cost effective way for a business to add a disaster recovery capability and so ensure that its precious data can be recovery if a computer disaster strikes.

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