A leased line is a private, dedicated internet connection that you don't share with anyone else. That means that your bandwidth is guaranteed and never slows down at peak times. Naturally, these services cost more than a typical broadband connection, so it's vital that you make the right choice of provider.
Always read the small print when comparing different service providers to ensure you are getting the same level of service for your money. You should look out for the following ten points.
1. Target service availability
Anything less than 100% means your business will be expected to be without the Internet for a period of time. 99.9% equates to 8.8 hours expected down time per year. When you factor in the cost of labour, loss of sales/orders and decline in credibility, that can have a serious impact on revenue.
2. Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Always read the small print to ensure you’re fully covered, both for problems with the circuit and the network. Check that the SLA covers all of the solution, especially if some components are being provided by other providers, and understand the impact of this on the SLA.
3. Claiming against the SLA
How much is paid out? Can you claim the moment a fault is reported, or do you have to wait a certain number of hours? The longer your claim time, the more damage is done to your business. It could also mean the provider’s engineering resources are stretched.
Always check for up-front connection costs and any hidden fees. Look out for any differences in the price when paying either monthly or quarterly. Some providers charge significantly more to pay monthly than annually.
You shouldn’t have any one else sharing your bandwidth. Check the small print to ensure the circuit and any Internet traffic is ‘uncontended’ from the customer’s site all the way out to the Internet and that this is confirmed in writing.
6. Room to grow
Can you change your bandwidth easily? Be aware of the costs and timescales of flexing bandwidth - can you raise it to accommodate growth or lower it to save money in quieter periods? How long does it take to flex?
7. Installation and delivery
Be aware of who installs and delivers the service. Some providers use third parties and this can impact performance and response times. Check your SLA for the applicable payments for delayed delivery.
This is the time between the original request for data and when the data actually starts to transfer. Poor latency means applications will be less responsive and users accessing websites you host will experience slow loading times. Confident suppliers will quote real-time latency stats online.
9. Symmetric and asymmetric access
Make sure your traffic profile fits your type of Internet usage. If you upload more content than you download, your leased line should accommodate this so you aren’t paying for inbound usage you don’t need.
10. Added extras
What are you getting free of charge? A router, online usage reporting and protection against security threats are examples. What is the specification of the router provided?