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Leased Line Services Explained
Leased lines interconnect business locations with dedicated private voice and data bandwidth.

By: John Shepler

A leased line is a private telecommunications line that connects two locations. It may be used for telephone service, data transfer, audio or video transport.

What is a Leased Line?
Most often, the term leased line is used to describe an exclusive point to point connection from one business location to another. An example of this is a PBX tie line. This is most often a T1 line that connects two PBX telephone systems together. One system might be at corporate headquarters, the other in a branch office.

A more exotic use of a T1 leased line is as a radio station studio to transmitter link. An unchannelized T1 line has enough bandwidth to carry AM, FM stereo, or HD Radio audio plus control signals for the transmission equipment. A T1 STL replaces a point to point microwave digital or analog link.

Leased data lines are used by businesses to connect point of sale, accounting and inventory systems from retail locations and warehouses to company headquarters. Most often these are T1 leased lines, the most cost effective bandwidth for many companies. A T1 line gives you 1.5 Mbps. You can also get fractional T1 service if you don't need even this much bandwidth.

Higher Bandwidth Leased Lines
T3 leased lines provide higher bandwidths of 45 Mbps in both directions. A T3 line can transfer large amounts of data, such as engineering drawings, medical records including radiology images, and full motion video. A T3 leased line might connect two data centers for overnight backups and disaster recovery.

There is almost no limit to the bandwidth of leased lines once your building is wired for fiber optic service. You don't need to lease all of the capacity of the fiber optic connection. In fact, in lieu of a leased T3 line you might lease and equivalent bandwidth DS3 service on an OC3 fiber optic circuit. The DS3 bandwidth is still reserved for your exclusive use and is not accessible by other parties.

A full OC3 line can provide up to 155 Mbps of voice, data or video bandwidth. Acompeting service would be a leased Fast Ethernet service at 100 Mbps. Other possibilities are OC12 at 622 Mbps, Gigabit Ethernet, and OC48 fiber optic service at 2.5 Gbps.

Loop and Port Charges
A T1 dedicated Internet service is something of a hybrid between public and private line services. In this case, you have a private leased line between your business location and the carrier's nearest point of presence. That's generally at the phone company's local office. There you connect with a carrier's Internet port at 1.5 Mbps. The Internet, of course, is a public network. But you are still leasing an exclusive amount of bandwidth access to the Internet. That's different than shared services, such as DSL, where there is no bandwidth guarantee.

How Lines Are Leased
Business telecommunications lines, such as T1 and T3 leased lines, are leased on a contractual basis. Terms are typically 1,2, or 3 years. Billing is monthly. Committing to a longer lease period usually gets you better terms and has the advantage of protecting you from potential price increases during the lease period. Most often, leased lines include an SLA or Service Level Agreement that spells out the availability guarantee of your service and compensation you'd receive for more than minimal rare outages.

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