What is a Leased Line?

A dedicated and reliable connection for business critical applications 24/7. Symmetrical, scalable, secure and with a minimum 99.9% SLA (Service Level Agreement). Future proof your investment with Gigabit capacity, protect your investment with a backup resilient connection.

What other UK Leased Line Providers won’t tell you.

For business owners, our business internet connection, such as a Fibre Ethernet leased line, is a business critical  service they rely upon constantly. Unreliable service, intermittent speeds and availability issues can leave you tearing your hair out in frustration. To help you find a business internet provider you can trust, we’ll share our experience of countless customer installations. With our expertise you can find out the truth about all UK leased line providers today!

Although we work with all the Tier 1 network and leased line providers, we don’t often talk about it. This is due in part to our customers’ network and ethernet fibre leased line services being both commercially sensitive and a security risk should we divulge their details. It is also a complex area of IT infrastructure, where one size rarely fits all and the options for Fibre Ethernet, transit, IP, backhaul and VLANs with Cloud Connect and Smart Network. Coupled with the resiliency options of leased lines makes the choices almost limitless.

What are Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 UK Leased Line Providers?

Excellent question, which as usual does not have a simplistic answer. There are Global Tier 1 providers, such as Zayo, NTT, AT&T. There are partial Global Tier 1 providers, such as Vodafone, Liberty Global and Telia. The list is not exhaustive.

In the UK I’ll refer to Tier 1 providers who provide Ethernet Fibre, not to be confused with fibre broadband, to the site or premise. UK Tier 1 leased line providers include: BT, Vodafone, Colt, Virgin Media and SSE along with providers, such as KCOM, with legacy presence in specific areas.

National Tier 2 and Tier 3 providers can be described as either having to use a Tier 1 or Tier 2 for some portion of the leased line, or they have a contractual arrangement which places them in Tier 2 or Tier 3. A Tier 2 example would be ourselves, where we have a leased line provided end-to-end by a Tier 1.

How does the Internet work?

In very simple terms what makes the Internet work is the Tier providers each have their own network, or portion of a network, which is private to them. Where they all meet, typically an Internet Exchange or IX, is how traffic from a source, such as a browser requesting a web page, is passed to the host provider, the server which hosts the website. This is either via Public Peering or Private Peering between the two or more respective providers. The London Internet Exchange, LINX, is one of the largest peering points in the world. You can find the list of public peers at their LON1 node here: LINX LON1.

Leased lines prior to around 2002 were usually low capacity, as little a 64kbps. In the UK circuit options were available for 2mbps (E1), 34mbps (E3) 45mbps (DS3) and 155mbps (STM1). Today leased line providers ordinarily supply an Ethernet leased line circuit which is at least 100mbps, however, all our customers have at least 1000mbps which is 1gbps.

Who are the Leased Line Providers?

Openreach

British Telecom is still easily the largest leased line provider, the reasons for which I’ll cover below.

British Telecommunications Plc was formed in 1984, from the GPO. In 2001, right here in Birmingham. BT was de-merged from its wireless division. Following the Communications Act 2003 BT was split, this importantly formed Openreach. BT Global, BT Wholesale, BT Business, BT Retail, BT Corporate and a whole host of other subsidiaries were formed since.

The existence of Openreach is important as BT, in its many guises, purchases network and leased line services from Openreach. Meaning BT buy the exact same service for the exact same price non-BT providers, such as ourselves. Openreach has the largest network of any of the UK leased line providers. You can get a BT circuit without buying it from the many of the BT retail businesses.

Virgin Media

Created from a patchwork of UK cable franchises, such as Birmingham Cable. In 2006 Virgin Media was formed from the acquisition of Virgin Mobile and operated as a license using the Virgin brand for the two main cable providers, Telewest and NTL. Each had acquired or amalgamated the local cable franchises.

In 2010 the NTL:Telewest Business subsidiary became Virgin Media Business, a simple rebranding of the business which continued to sell existing leased line and other services to businesses.

Libery Global acquired Virgin Media and subsidiaries for approximately £15bn in 2013. Virgin Media UK operations are ultimately controlled by Virgin Media (UK) Group Inc. in Delaware USA, so we have no idea of the ownership of Virgin Media as the law in Delaware does not require disclosure of controlling ownership.

Colt

Founded in 1992 City of London Telecommunications began by providing leased lines to Britain’s financial district after being awarded a Telecommunications Licence in 1993. The group expanded significantly in the ten years following and increased network coverage to many European cities, including Birmingham.

In 2014 Colt was acquired by Japanese Telecoms company KVH. Colt was once again acquired in 2015 by it’s earliest investor, Fidelity Investments.

Colt operates primarily in metro city zones throughout Europe with a presence, known as on-net, in around 20,000 buildings in almost 200 cities. If you’re in Birmingham, Docklands or Manchester it is very likely they will be on-net for you.

Vodafone

Vodafone acquired Cable & Wireless in 2012. C&W had a long history of network provision, laying undersea cables between British colonies since 1870, and acquiring assets following the first cable war in 1917.

Cable & Wireless was the very first UK leased line provider to offer an alternative to BT. In 1982 Mercury Communications Ltd was founded as a subsidiary of C&W. Mercury was absorbed into C&W In 1997. C&W acquired MCI Worldcom creating Cable & Wireless Global in 1999. Between 2001 and 2010 C&W bought many corporate leased line providers including Exodus, Energis and Thus.

SSE Telecoms

SSE Telecoms acquired Neos Networks in 2003 and SSE Telecoms is the telecommunications business of Scottish and Southern Energy. It had the ingenious idea of stringing fibre from SSE’s electricity pylons providing a competitive way to link cities together, without having to pay a fortune to run fibre on terra firma such as alongside railway lines, motorways and canals.

Network assets are primarily Scotland and the South of England with around 265 points-of-presence and they are on-net in 75 data centres. SSE Telecoms are an excellent choice to connect data centre assets with very high capacity interconnects, 10gbps and higher. Perfect for real-time synchronisation of large data volume SANs.

Finally . . .

There are a number of UK Leased Line Providers, other than those listed. Many of the other Tier 1 leased line providers buy a portion of their circuits from Openreach, typically the first mile or last mile of the route from the served site to the providers Point of Presence.

Serviceteam IT can supply circuits from all the above providers, at wholesale rates, and link circuits from different carriers together.

What are Cloud Connectivity Providers?

How do I connect my private network to my cloud?

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!