What Is a Leased Line in Networking?

Businesses use leased lines to connect two or more locations

NETWORK WITH EARTH IN BACKGROUND
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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; it is a reserved circuit between two points. The leased line is always active and available for a fixed monthly fee.

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

Individuals can theoretically rent leased lines for high-speed internet access, but their high cost deters most people, and far more affordable home options are available with 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. They can be found in some apartment buildings and hotels.

Using a Virtual Private Network is an alternative technology to using a leased line. VPNs allow an organization to create a virtual and secure connection between locations as well as between those locations and remote clients such as employees.

Broadband Internet Services

For consumers who are looking for internet access, a leased line is usually 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. In general, the farther from a populated area you live, the fewer broadband options are available.

Broadband options available to consumers include:

  • Digital Subscriber Lines: 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 the 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 expensive if you have high data usage, this option is faster 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. The speed is not as fast as other services, but it is still much faster than dial-up service.