Full fibre alternatives: all you need to know


The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) — the copper network that has been in use since the dawn of the telephone — will be fully retired by December 31, 2025. Homes and businesses will need to transition towards a fully digital alternative that uses fibre optic cables at every stage of transmission, from the telephone exchange all the way to the end user.

In its Connected Nations autumn update, Ofcom estimated that around 37 per cent of UK properties can now access full fibre broadband. The rollout is also impacting the UK’s small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), with the report revealing that a third of small businesses think full fibre connectivity has become even more important since the start of the pandemic.

However, there’s still a way to go before all of Britain benefits from a full fibre connection. While the Government embarks on its biggest broadband upgrade in UK history, investing £5 billion in a bid to cover the nation by 2030, some rural places may take longer to connect. As we eagerly await a fully full fibre network, alternatives like ethernet leased lines can act as a suitable stopgap for businesses that want full fibre’s benefits sooner.

What are ethernet leased lines?

An ethernet leased line is a dedicated point-to-point connection between a business and its service provider that uses the same technology as full fibre broadband. As part of the service, a business leases a unique connection specific to its own location from its internet service provider (ISP), backed up with a service level agreement to ensure quality of service.

Leased lines use an uncontended network, which ensures that only the business purchasing the line has access, eliminating any sort of latency caused by other network traffic. This level of security is crucial for applications in financial trading, Cloud services and communication through video conferencing or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, where service reliability is paramount.

Having an ethernet leased line comes with a range of operational benefits such as speed and reliability, especially if a rurally-located business has experienced connectivity issues in the past or if it requires increased amounts of data. After all, a leased line internet connection offers symmetrical upload and download speeds, as opposed to asymmetrical speeds that, despite being more common, result in an inconsistent connection.

Why use an ethernet leased line?

While the benefits of a leased line are clear, particularly as a viable full fibre alternative, why should your business consider using it?

A leased line will ensure a reliable workplace experience.  As video conferencing, collaboration tools and SaaS applications all require robust connectivity and vast data allowances to perform optimally. A robust leased line service ensures a positive customer experience as it guarantees 24/7 operation with no unexpected maintenance or downtime.

Offering a greater quality of service compared to a standard internet connection, leased lines are well suited to business premises — whether that’s an entire office or a work from home (WFH) setup. Their use can be easily scaled according to business needs and growth, and it’s easy to add more lines should an office expand, or reduce them during quieter periods.

It’s understandable that consumers, and businesses, are enthusiastic about full fibre’s benefits. The rollout is coming, and pace is picking up. However, businesses that currently experience slower internet speeds and those in areas where the rollout may take a while should consider alternative options for the medium term. Ethernet leased lines are a great option for businesses, offering secure, reliable and scalable internet connectivity.

If you’d like some expert advice on the right internet connection for your business needs, get in touch with a member of the Crystaline team.