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What is GEA?

GEA stands for Generic Ethernet Access and is also known as Ethernet over Fibre to the Cabinet (EoFTTC). GEA connects your business to the nearest access cabinet via traditional copper telephone wires, after which it transfers to the fibre network. GEA is an entry-level leased line option, and is cheaper than either EFM or Fibre Leased Lines, with much lower installation costs. It’s a good option for small businesses that have recently outgrown traditional business broadband, and where the need is not so much for extra speed, but for symmetrical bandwidth alongside better resilience and more business-friendly service guarantees.

As well as price, GEA’s advantage over other leased line technologies is that it’s quick to install. You can have a GEA line up and running in as little as 13 working days.

What’s the difference between broadband and a leased line connection?

Despite limited speed, GEA offers a number of clear business benefits over standard ADSL or FTTC broadband.

  • It’s uncontended. Your business is the only one using the line, so the speed doesn’t slow down at peak times. This compares favourably with a standard broadband connection, where there will be many other users on the line, often leading to much lower speeds than advertised.
  • It’s symmetrical. With a GEA leased line, you get the same speed in both directions. That means if your GEA service advertises speeds of up to 20Mbps, that means 20Mbps upstream as well as 20Mbps downstream. Traditional broadband tends to prioritise download speeds, but many modern business applications – like VoIP and video calls – need fast upload speeds too.
  • It’s guaranteed. With GEA, as with Fibre Leased Lines and EFM, you’ll get service guarantees detailed in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). For example, you’re likely to get an uptime guarantee of 99% or above, and fix times that are measured in hours rather than days. That’s essential for businesses that depend on online services. GEA SLAs do tend to be a little less meticulous than those offered with EFM, which helps to explain the lower price of GEA.
  • It’s reliable. The copper network is not as reliable as fibre, and your data travels on a copper telephone wire between your premises and the access cabinet. But GEA technology is more reliable than standard FTTC broadband, because it uses extra copper circuits. If one fails, the other will keep working, albeit reducing overall speeds until the fault is fixed.

How does GEA/EoFTTC work?

GEA uses the copper phone network in the first mile. The ‘mile’ here is not a precise measurement of distance – it means twisted copper pairs take data from your premises to the access cabinet (also known as the street cabinet). After that, it’s fibre all the way to the exchange, and then to the provider’s core network. EFM also covers the first mile with copper pairs, but also uses copper all the way to the exchange.

GEA lines are quick to install with lead times between 13 and 25 working days, depending on the last mile supplier.

How does GEA/EoFTTC work?

Speeds range between 1Mbps and up to 20Mbps. They can’t exceed 20Mbps so GEA is marginally less flexible than EFM, which can use extra circuits to boost speeds up to 35Mbps.

It’s worth noting though that, thanks to the latency of the copper wire, the actual speed you get with GEA will depend on your distance from the cabinet.

How fast is GEA/EoFTTC?

Speeds range between 1Mbps and up to 20Mbps. They can’t exceed 20Mbps so GEA is marginally less flexible than EFM, which can use extra circuits to boost speeds up to 35Mbps.

It’s worth noting though that, thanks to the latency of the copper wire, the actual speed you get with GEA will depend on your distance from the cabinet.

What are the downsides of GEA/EoFTTC?

GEA is slower than other leased line options, but also less expensive. And because GEA utilises the FTTC network, it’s not universally available. Some businesses in remote or rural areas have no choice but to install an EFM leased line because they don’t have a local fibre cabinet.

Do you need GEA?

GEA is a managed service, backed by an SLA, that offers symmetrical speeds and a higher level of resilience than standard broadband services. If your small business is sending more information to the cloud, adopting IP-based communications (like VoIP and video) and hosting services, it will benefit from the step up in business connectivity that GEA represents.

  • If you need symmetrical speeds for cloud services or communications, GEA is an excellent and cost-effective option for growing businesses.
  • If you are frustrated with broadband that slows down at peak times, GEA’s uncontended internet access can help you maintain productivity levels at any time of day or night.
  • If you’re doing more online, GEA’s service guarantees will minimise costly downtime and disruption.

What’s the difference between GEA and EFM?

In most respects, the use cases for GEA are the same as those for EFM. EFM is marginally faster, and often comes with a slightly more stringent SLA. Thanks to a top speed of up to 35Mbps, it’s also a little more scalable for growing businesses.

On the other hand, GEA is a lot cheaper and quicker to install than EFM, and monthly costs are a little lower too.

In other words, there isn’t too much between them. EFM and GEA are both excellent options for small businesses and branch offices that have outgrown standard broadband and want an extra layer of resilience. Your choice may come down to availability. GEA is available wherever the FTTC network is. EFM is available everywhere.

If you’re not sure which option is right for you, get in touch on 0161 6946000 and we’ll be happy to analyse your business needs and suggest the most appropriate leased line solution.