A strong and reliable internet connection is without doubt the most important factor when it comes to an effective and productive workplace. Well, maybe a close second if you include the trusty office kettle!
There’s a range of different providers and package deals available on the market when it comes to professional specification business internet connections, but these can fundamentally be broken down into two offerings – Wireless and Fibre Leased Line connections.
With some businesses still getting slow connections speeds of 2Mbps or lower, it’s essential to make sure you choose the right option to drive the growth of your business – in terms of both performance and overall costs.
So, first things first, what’s the difference between a wireless and a fixed leased line connection?
What is a Fibre Leased Line?
Also known as a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) connection, a Fibre Leased Line is the older of the two solutions. Fibre leased lines are still extremely capable of delivering high speed internet through using a fibre optic cable to deliver your connection. This runs from your office location to your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) supply point via an underground cable.
Most newer offices or offices in central locations are usually already serviced by a fibre optic cable, however if this is not the case then a new cable must be laid directly to your office.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Fibre Leased Line
The main benefit of choosing a fibre-based solution for your business internet connection is reliability and speed. With an effectively configured setup you can reach download speeds of up to 10Gbps, which is more than enough to run an effective small business operation accessing emails and documents stored in the cloud. It is also fast enough to run internet based telephone solutions too.
Your bandwidth is uncontended when choosing a fibre leased line, which in short means that your internet connection is fully dedicated and not shared with other users. Therefore, you won’t experience annoying dips in your connection speed at peak times of the day.
Fibre leased line options nearly always include symmetrical upload and download speeds, meaning that the data transfer is just as fast regardless of whether you’re uploading or downloading files. Shared and home internet connections can be much more focused on download times, whereas file and document uploads are much more important when it comes to commercial and business internet use.
The main disadvantage with a fibre internet connection is the time and effort you’ll likely need to make when getting this up and running, including any downtime within the period until your new internet connection is ready to go.
Your ISP will need to arrange the physical work of digging up the road and connecting you to their nearest existing supply point. Not only is this costly, but there can also be negotiations with local council planning departments and other stakeholders in the process. All in all, this can take up to 90 days and in some cases longer if there’s disputes around your intended plan.
Once this is done though, you’re usually now on the straight and narrow in terms of the high-speed internet connection your business needs!
What is a Wireless Leased Line?
Wireless Leased Lines are another effective way to provide fast and reliable internet connectivity for your business, using a rooftop antenna to directly connect you to the network – which is provided by your ISP. When this is fitted and installed, your wireless antenna is then linked to others in the area so that a point-to-point internet signal is directed to your business premises.
Once the Line of Site (LOS) between your new antenna and others locally is established, you are then provided with an internet connection which is just as fast as your average fibre optic cable solution.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Wireless Leased Line
The overall benefits of using a Wireless Leased Line for your business internet are fundamentally similar, in that you’re provided with a fast and reliable connection for your daily business operations. So for example, large files such as print quality images or brochure documents can be downloaded in a matter of seconds.
A wireless leased line is also easy to increase your connection speeds or bandwidth, with your ISP carrying out works directly to your antenna. In most cases it’s also possible to implement changes remotely, over the phone too.
A wireless installation is a much quicker task when compared to laying fibre optic cables, saving on both setup costs and the associated downtime for your business. The main task for your wireless installation is attaching the required antenna to the roof of your business property.
This can take up to 25 days depending on the position the antenna needs to be, so that it’s in the line of site of other antennas in the area.
The main disadvantage with a wireless leased line connection, compared to fibre optic cables, is that you are dependent on your Line of Site. You can experience difficulties if it’s hard for your business to connect to other wireless antennas in your local area and your LOS is interrupted – although your Internet Service Provider will be able to check this for you in advance.
We recently worked with a wireless leased line client who was losing signal at the same time daily. On closer inspection, the problem was identified as large ships on the river Mersey, carrying lots of metal shipping containers!
Although it’s possible to add more antennas, this has additional costs compared to the one-off installation of a fibre leased line solution.
Whilst we appreciate this may not be a factor or all businesses, the point here is that a wide range of factors can have an impact on your ability to receive a signal, including tall buildings, trees and even other satellites in the sky. Therefore it really is best practice to have a full conversation with your IPS in order to make sure your considering all the variables which could impact this once live.
Does a Wireless or Fibre Leased Line Cost More Money?
Although there are a wide range of variables you must consider when answering this question, the answer in most cases is to go for a wireless leased line over a fibre optic cable. This usually saves money if you’re setting up a new internet connection.
The only real costs associated with a wireless leased line are the initial setup costs (which are much lower), moving on to your ongoing monthly fees from your ISP. The other factor here is whether you can get a signal so do check in advance!
Alternatively, if you go for a fibre leased line option, there can be significant costs associated with the physical work of laying your new cables. This can also have several considerations to factor in, so you can work out the specific cost for you. This includes things like the length of the cable which needs to be laid and the surrounding landscape.
That said it’s worth checking if your new office has a fibre optic cable in place before you move. If this is the case, you can usually swap providers without undertaking the physical work associated with laying fibre optic cables.
A Blended Approach to your Business Connectivity
Although this article focuses on the difference between a wireless leased line and fibre internet connection, for the best results you should always be using both. This is because taking a blended approach to your internet connections means that you add an extra layer of resilience to your overall connectivity infrastructure.
If you’re extremely reliant on your internet connection for your business operations, then this is the approach we would recommend for you. Say for example there are road works going on in your street and your cable gets damaged, it’s a quick and easy process to move over to your wireless internet and maintain your connection.
Although this may have higher overall costs that a single connection solution, the prices of avoiding downtime within your business can be priceless, particularly at busy times of the day.
What About Mobile Broadband?
5G Mobile broadband connections are a fantastic addition to your overall connectivity strategy, particularly in times with increased remote and flexible working across several locations. This is because your mobile router can be carried around on your person, or with staff, making sure they are always connected.
However, they should be considered as an addition to either your wireless leased line or fibre optic broadband connections rather than a replacement. The price for increased mobility is connection times and reliability, so you want to think of this as essential tool when travelling, working from home or in the rare instances that your main internet connection is down.
If you have a question about the best leased line option for your business, please contact a member of our expert connectivity team.