Leased internet lines are a very popular choice for SME’s who want a reliable and superfast internet connection for their offices. They are, in many ways, far superior to broadband connections, especially when your company relies on the internet very heavily.
With a leased line, you can achieve connectivity speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is incredibly fast. At this speed, you could download a 2 and a half hour long movie in just a matter of seconds!
Leased lines can be deployed in one of two ways. You can either have fibre-optic cables run under the ground and installed directly in your office, or you can install a wireless antenna on the roof of your building.
For the former, you would need to dig up roads in order to lay the cable from the nearest source, which can be a pain and quite expensive, especially when using a wireless antenna will provide roughly the same connectivity speeds.
So what are the pro’s and cons of each method? Who would benefit most from a fibre connection and who would find a wireless connection more beneficial? Let’s analyse our options, beginning with fibre.
What is Fibre?
Fibre-optic leased lines, or fibre to the premises (FTTP), are where a fibre-optic cable connects your office to the supply point of your internet provider via an underground cable. Each fibre-optic cable is very thin, roughly the size of a human hair, and reflects light, making for a faster internet connection.
If you want to have fibre installed, you would need to contact your internet service provider (ISP) who would source fibre-optic cables from local suppliers to get your office connected up.
This process would involve the digging up of roads so that the cable can be laid, thus making the connection.
What is Wireless?
A wireless leased line provides all the benefits of a traditional leased line service, with much faster installation times.
Installing a wireless leased line does not involve any digging or laying cables. Instead, you have an antenna mounted on top of your building which uses radio and microwave technology to provide your business with a superfast internet connection.
Another benefit of using wireless connectivity is that you don’t have to reach out to your ISP and request a cable. Instead they can just install the antenna directly.
Fibre vs Wireless - Which is best for you?
Now that we’ve learnt what Fibre and Wireless actually mean, it’s time to find out which one is best for your business.
Let’s start with comparing the similarities and differences between the two.
Whilst the technologies and the installation methods may differ, the results of each are the same. No matter how you get your leased internet line, you will still end up with:
You can generally expect to pay a lot more for the installation of a fibre line to your building, than you would for a wireless connection.
Provided you have a line of sight (LOS) the only costs you will pay for wireless connection are for the quick and easy installation, and the monthly cost with your ISP after that.
In contrast, a fibre installation can be very expensive. First you will (more often than not) need to get permission from your local council to dig up roads and lay down the cables, and then you will have to pay for the installation costs, which can often involve paying 3rd party contractors who will be qualified to conduct roadworks.
Now you may be thinking at this point “Why bother with fibre when it’s so expensive?” However you might consider that if there is no LOS for your wireless antenna, you will have to pay to get this tech installed, which most companies cannot afford to do on their own. It is most common for this technology to be installed as part of a community effort, which could take weeks or even months to complete. If this is the case, you are usually best off going with fibre.
Another scenario in which companies may choose fibre over wireless is if they move into a building that already has a fibre line, which will simply require your ISP to connect and activate, saving you the cost of installation.
Another big difference between fibre and wireless leased lines is how scalable they are and how much capacity each line holds.
Where a fibre connection can give you almost unlimited gigabytes on each cable, a wireless antenna will usually be limited to roughly 20 Gbps.
This means that if you have a wireless connection and you want a 70Gbps line, you will have to have 4 antennas installed on the roof of your building, which could become much more costly than having a fibre line installed.
If you choose to have a fibre line installed to your building, you can generally expect to wait between 30 and 90 days for this to be completed. Digging up roads and laying down potentially very long cables can be a very long and difficult process in itself, however you also need to consider that your ISP will need to get permission from your local authority before any work starts, which can often take a lot longer than the actual installation.
On the flipside, if you choose to go with a wireless connection you could expect to be sorted in as little as 1 week. This is because the only manual labour involved with this is installing the antenna, assuming you are within the LOS.
Can I combine Fibre an Wireless?
The short answer here is yes, you can.
This is not common practice though and is usually only done when a company needs to move into a new office in a matter of weeks, so they get a wireless connection installed off the bat so that it is ready for them to use whilst they are in the process of having a fibre connection installed.
It is however incredibly rare that an office move occurs this quickly as this process generally involves a huge amount of planning and administrative work, so is often planned several months, and sometimes over a year in advance.