Questions you should ask your potential leased line provider before you order.
How will you assist me to get it installed?
You really need to view the installation of your fibre optic leased line as project. There are various queries to handle, appointments for surveys of your premises to be present for and engineer visits to be aware of. You need your chosen provider to have a team dedicated to managing installations whilst, keeping a close eye on how things are progressing and clearly communicating updates to you as soon as they have them. There’s also often a lot of industry jargon involved, and you will rely on this team to explain things to you in plain English so you know what is happening every step of the way.
How will you support me?
Where is the support team based, and what hours do they work? How will you raise issues to them? Whilst a provider will not necessarily help you setup all the computers, switches and wireless access points in your office network, will they at least hold a handover call to help you plug your gateway or main switch into the termination equipment on site and ensure that your connection is up and working?
How resilient is a leased line service?
Fibre optic services are extremely reliable. Unlike copper based broadband services, they aren’t susceptible to environmental factors like electronic interference and water ingress in the network. And when they do go down, they are treated as a priority fix, usually with a five-hour target for a fix if there’s a total loss of service (versus several days for standard broadband services).
However, five hours will feel like an awfully long time if your whole business has gone offline. That’s why you should ensure that your provider includes some form of backup circuit to at least keep you online, even if it’s on a slower service. Ask whether there is a broadband backup included, and if you consider your connection as business critical ask whether they will even provide a second fibre optic leased line through a different route into the building. Another option could be to have a backhaul supplier to help make downtime even less likely.
How will backup be handled?
One final thing to check on any backup service that the provider gives you is – how do you switch over to it? The most basic way is that if your primary circuit goes down, you manually plug your equipment into the backup line. However, a much better solution is for the provider to ensure that this happens automatically, with a box on site handling the shift to the backup service within seconds of it detecting that your main circuit is down.
What visibility of the circuit will the provider have?
Ensure you know what type of service you are buying. You can purchase a fibre optic leased line as “wires only”. This has the benefit of you simply plugging in your equipment to the termination point and configure your network as you see fit. However, it will give your chosen provider very little visibility of your circuit, potentially slowing down support resolution times if you have an issue.
Alternatively, they may provide a managed router as part of the circuit, which will provide them with some visibility of your circuit that they can remotely monitor. They may even be able to set up some quality of service rules for you, allowing you to prioritise traffic that you think is important.