Compare the SD-WAN Market

Comparison of BT Leased Lines vs BT Broadband

BT Leased Line vs BT Business Broadband

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The Internet is an integral tool for all businesses as the enabler to collaboration and Cloud-based applications. With high speed FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) with bandwidth of up to 900Mbps is available, many businesses to wonder why they need to spend on a leased line service which is considerable more expensive. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between BT leased lines and Broadband to help you understand whether the additional expense is needed based on your requirements.

BT leased lines are dedicated high-speed internet connections that provide a direct link between your business premises and BT (ISP - Internet Service Provider). Leased line circuits are not connected to the shared Broadband network which makes the service exclusive to your organization resulting in consistent performance and reliability.

Below: BT Leased Lines vs BT Business Broadband comparison matrix.

Feature BT Leased Lines BT Business Broadband
Connection Type Dedicated to each customer Shared Broadband infrastructure 
Speed Up to 10 Gbps (symmetrical) 80Mbps/20Mbps for FTTC - Up to 900 Mbps FTTP (asymmetric)
Availability Nationwide (UK), Internationally vis BT Global Services  Nationwide (UK)
SLA (Service Level Agreement) 5-hour fix time, 100% target availability 24-48 hour fix time, 99.9% target availability
Latency Low (5-20ms) Higher (10-50ms)
Jitter Low Average 
Packet Loss Minimal (less than 0.1%) Varies depending on the network
Cost From £299 per month From £30 per month
Contract Length 1, 3 or 5 years 1, 2, 3 and 5 years
Scalability Highly scalable Limited scalability
Security High, dedicated connection with security options from Meraki Basic which is suited to simple needs
Best Suited For Businesses requiring high reliability, performance, and security Small businesses and home users with standard internet needs

Connection type - dedicated vs shared

A BT Leased Line is a dedicated connection because the circuit is provided as a point-to-point link between the customer and BT PoP -  i.e. between a business's premises and an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This dedicated line ensures that the full bandwidth is available exclusively to the business, without having to share the connection with other Broadband users. This results in consistently high performance, low latency, and greater reliability, which is crucial for businesses that require a stable and secure connection for critical applications.

BT Broadband is a shared connection because it utilises a shared infrastructure which provides connectivity to multiple users at the same time. As per all Broadband ISP's, Internet bandwidth is distributed among all the users connected to the same local exchange or cabinet. As a result, the performance of BT Broadband may vary depending on the number of users accessing the internet and their activities, leading to fluctuations in speed, higher latency, and potential congestion during peak times.

The key difference between a BT Leased Line and BT Broadband is that a leased line is a dedicated connection exclusively which is reserved for a single business, while broadband is a shared connection that serves multiple users simultaneously, often resulting in variable performance.

Speed - symmetrical vs asymmetrical bandwidth

Some applications require symmetrical bandwidth, which means they need equal upload and download speeds for optimal performance. These applications include:

  • Video conferencing - in order to maintain smooth and high-quality video and audio, it is necessary to have equal bandwidth for both sending and receiving data.
  • Remote desktop access - remote desktop applications require the same amount of bandwidth for both sending and receiving data to ensure seamless and responsive remote access.
  • Cloud-based applications - businesses relying on cloud services for data storage, backup, and various applications need equal bandwidth to ensure efficient access and data transfer to/from the cloud.
  • VoIP (Voice over IP) telephony - to maintain clear and uninterrupted voice calls, VoIP services require the same amount of bandwidth for both sending and receiving audio data.

There are applications that do not require symmetrical bandwidth, as they primarily focus on either downloading or uploading data. Examples include:

  • Web browsing - users typically download more data (such as images and text) than they upload when browsing the web, so faster download speeds are more important than upload speeds.
  • Streaming services - video and audio streaming services like Netflix and Spotify require higher download speeds for smooth playback, while upload speeds are less crucial.

BT Leased Lines offer symmetrical bandwidth, which is crucial for applications that require equal upload and download speeds. In contrast, BT Broadband offers asymmetrical bandwidth, which is sufficient for most home users and small businesses with standard internet needs.

Availability - SLA's (Service Level Agreements)

Leased line availability surpasses broadband for BT customers due to several factors, including better Service Level Agreements (SLAs), dedicated support teams, and improved performance across latency and jitter.

BT Leased Lines, also known as BTnet, are offered with a robust SLA compared to BT Business Broadband services. The SLA for BT Leased Lines outlines the level of service that the provider commits to deliver, such as uptime guarantees, latency, and packet loss. For BT Leased Lines, the SLA include a 100% target availability and a 4-hour fix time. In contrast, BT Broadband SLAs tend to offer longer fault resolution times (24-48 hours).

Another factor contributing to better availability for BT Leased Lines is the presence of dedicated support teams. These teams cater specifically to businesses using BT Leased Lines and are trained to handle complex issues. They are generally more responsive and efficient in resolving problems than the support teams for BT Broadband, which cater to a broader customer base - this may lead to longer response times and less specialized support for BT Broadband customers.

BT Leased Lines provide better availability than BT Broadband due to their superior SLAs, dedicated support teams, and the exclusive nature of the dedicated connection.

Security - Meraki vs standard BT Business Broadband Hub devices

Cisco Meraki BT Leased Line edge devices offer security features which differ from those of BT Business Broadband due to their target customer base and the nature of the services provided.

Meraki security features are more advanced, including integrated next-generation firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and content filtering. These features help protect the business network from potential threats, unauthorised access, and malicious activities. Additionally, the dedicated connection of BTnet ensures that the data transmitted remains within the customer's circuit, reducing the risk of security breaches.

BT Business Broadband caters to small businesses and home users with standard internet needs. Its security features are more basic compared to those of Cisco Meraki - BT Business Broadband provides standard web filtering, antivirus protection, and parental controls for content filtering. Since it operates on a shared connection, the data transmitted travels through public internet infrastructure, which exposes Internet traffic to a higher risk of security breaches compared to dedicated connections.

Why are leased lines more expensive vs Broadband?

The features we have mentioned in this article are the reason why BT leased line costs are more expensive vs Broadband. These include:

  • Dedicated bandwidth with improved latency and jitter traffic performance.
  • Symmetrical bandwidth which supports improved upload speeds vs Broadband
  • Diversity and resilience which allows leased lines to be provisioned with no single point of failure
  • Better support from dedicated leased line support teams
  • Improved fix times vs Broadband
  • BT leased lines are supplied with Meraki Wi-Fi and enhanced security options

The above points are why customers spend more on leased line circuits vs Broadband.

Scalability - how easy is it to upgrade?

BT Leased Lines offer greater scalability in terms of bandwidth tiers compared to Broadband, Ethernet products are an ideal choice for businesses with fluctuating or growing bandwidth needs. This increased scalability can be attributed to the flexibility and customization options provided by BT Leased Lines, which allow businesses to select and adjust their bandwidth capacity according to their specific requirements.

With BT Leased Lines, businesses can choose from a wide range of Ethernet bandwidth tiers, starting from 100Mbps through to 10 Gbps. This flexibility ensures that organisations can allow for future growth.

As a business expands or experiences fluctuations in bandwidth demand due to factors such as seasonal variations, increased remote workforce, or the adoption of new applications, it can easily upgrade or downgrade its leased line capacity without significant disruption or additional infrastructure investments.

Broadband provides limited options when it comes to scalability. Typically, BT Broadband offers a few predetermined packages with varying download and upload speeds.

FTTP currently offers:

  • 72Mbps/19Mbps
  • 152Mbps/29Mbps
  • 314Mbps/48Mbps
  • 500Mbps/68Mbps
  • 900Mbps/104Mbps

These packages cater primarily for small businesses or small branch-office with SD WAN or standard internet needs. As a result, businesses relying on Broadband services may find it challenging to accommodate their growing requirements or cope with fluctuations in bandwidth demand. They may also experience slower upload speeds or network congestion during peak times, which can impact overall productivity and user experience.

BT Leased Lines provide a more scalable solution for businesses, allowing them to adjust their bandwidth tiers according to their specific needs and growth plans. This flexibility is a significant advantage over Broadband, which offers limited options for scalability and may not be suitable for organizations with dynamic bandwidth requirements or plans for expansion.

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