What Is a Leased Line in Networking?

A leased line, also known as a dedicated line, connects two locations for private voice and/or data telecommunication service. A leased line is not a dedicated cable; a leased line is actually a reserved circuit between two points.

Leased lines can span short or long distances. They maintain a single open circuit at all times, as opposed to traditional telephone services that reuse the same lines for many different conversations through a process called “switching.”

What Are Leased Lines Used For?

Leased lines are most commonly rented by businesses to connect branch offices of the organization. Leased lines guarantee bandwidth for network traffic between locations. For example, T1 leased lines are common and offer the same data rate as symmetric DSL (1.544 Mbps).

Individuals can theoretically also rent leased lines for high-speed Internet access, but their high cost deters most, and there are far more affordable home options available higher bandwidth than a simple dial-up phone line, including residential DSL and cable internet broadband service.

Fractional T1 lines, starting at 128 Kbps, reduce this cost somewhat and can be found in some apartment buildings and hotels.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are an alternative technology to leased lines, allowing an organization to create a virtual and secure connection between locations, and even between locations and remote clients like employees.

Broadband Internet Services

For consumers looking for internet access, a leased line is generally not a feasible option. There are fast broadband internet connections available that are much more affordable.

Access to these broadband services varies depending on location. Generally, the further from a populated area you live, the fewer broadband options will be available.

Broadband options commonly available to consumers include:

  • Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL): DSL service uses existing telephone wiring to deliver broadband service. Voice telephone service does not use all of the broadband capacity of the telephone system’s copper twisted pair of wires, and DSL utilizes that free space.
  • Cable modems: Cable service represents another pre-existing wire into many homes. The coaxial cable is used to carry the additional broadband internet signal.
  • Wireless broadband: Wireless broadband uses a radio link between the user’s location and the service provider’s facility. Range is limited, making availability more limited as well.
  • Wireless cell phone internet: Broadband service is often available using 3G and 4G cellular signals that are commonly used by smartphones. Though not as fast as DSL or cable and it can be expensive if you have high data usage, it is a faster option than dial-up for rural customers.
  • Satellite broadband: Satellite broadband service may be the only broadband service available in rural areas. The service often accompanies satellite television service and uses the same receiver for downloading. Speed, however, is not as fast as other services, but it is much faster than dial-up service.

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