Dedicated Line vs. VPN – What’s the Difference?
Optimizing the internet experience is a multi-billion dollar industry, and while many aspects of your browsing can be improved, the most relevant ones are speed and privacy. When these aspects are brought up, VPNs and dedicated lines are mentioned as the best solutions. That, however, doesn’t make them the same.
Dedicated line internet is a form of internet connection, whereas a VPN encrypts the connection you already have. The main feature of a dedicated line is constant high-speed connectivity with a set bandwidth that remains available at all times. VPNs, on the other hand, help keep you anonymous.
In this article, you will learn more about both the services and find out the advantages and the disadvantages of each so you can draw your own conclusion regarding which service you want.
Dedicated Line Internet: A Brief Overview
When you browse the internet at home, you may have noticed that the speed varies depending on the time of the day or various other factors. Furthermore, the service can get extremely slow, especially if you are connected to the internet over WiFi. This is not because of issues with your WiFi router but because you are accessing broadband internet.
Broadband internet emerged as a solution to lower the cost of the internet as the telecommunication providers’ union decided to segment their services by price-point and attempt to reach a wider subscriber base.
This lower cost internet service provides bandwidth to a particular connection point, like a home, and all the users share the bandwidth. The distribution of bandwidth is not based on equality but is on a need-to-use basis.
This can pose problems for many people who use the internet for work or business. If one runs a suicide prevention hotline over internet-calling, it is risky to have the internet speed decrease because a user is nearly browsing Netflix. That is why most organizations and businesses that rely on time-sensitive internet connectivity opt for a dedicated line connection.
The dedicated line connection is a service provided by internet service providers to high-value customers who pay a premium to access the internet at a predetermined speed 24/7. Unlike broadband internet or your typical WiFi connection, a dedicated internet line does not change in bandwidth regardless of how much or how little you use the service.
Dedicated line services aren’t the only ones provided by ISPs because the service has its drawbacks and advantages despite being a premium one. Below we will go over these to decide how fit the service is for your needs.
Pros of Dedicated Line Internet
Below are some of the advantages you get for paying a premium and subscribing to dedicated line internet.
Dedicated line internet can come at different bandwidth tiers, but it is not worth it for the internet service providers to give dedicated lines at lower speeds. Therefore, if you get a dedicated line, chances are you will enjoy access and high speeds and receive benefits like short download time, faster uploads, no buffering on your streaming, and quick file transfers.
Many businesses use dedicated internet lines because of their internet calling needs. It would not be great to have a conference call where the video is choppy, and the speakers can’t be understood. With a dedicated line, you have fast communication and smooth connectivity. As a result, your internet calls are just like regular phone calls on a sunny day.
You may not need as much bandwidth as a dedicated line provides, but knowing that no matter the conditions, you will be able to get the same quality of the internet every time you connect brings peace of mind. As a business owner, you don’t have to worry about how the lack of internet or slower speeds may impact your bottom line.
Even if you do not own a business and use the internet more frequently for time-sensitive projects, you don’t have to correct the possibility that the internet speed will be down when you have an assignment due.
Many students have started using the internet for higher education. Even Harvard is teaching online. With such a high fee, it would be a shame to miss out on an online exam or perform poorly because of the common internet cable for the area being affected. Instead of asking all the users of WiFi to stop using their devices so you can have more bandwidth, you will have reliable high-speed access to the internet.
Priority Customer Service
When you are a customer who pays a premium, your internet service provider doesn’t let you wait in a queue when you need customer service. Whether you need assistance over the phone or are at the customer care center, your issue will be given priority.
That said, this is not a guarantee, and the customer care policies vary from provider to provider. Make sure you ask the ISP’s sales specialist if there are any perks for getting tech support. In many instances, you have a dedicated customer care representative alongside a dedicated line.
Cons of Dedicated Line Internet
Below are some of the drawbacks of using an internet service with a dedicated connection.
Dedicated line internet is priced relatively high when compared to regular internet access. From broadband WiFi connections to mobile data, the minimum cost to connect can be ten times lower than a dedicated line of the same bandwidth. For even businesses, this can be an expense that can’t be justified unless there is a need for the company to have high speeds at all times.
While this drawback is common between regular internet access and a dedicated line, it is worth mentioning because, in comparison to a VPN, this stands out. When you connect to the internet using a dedicated line, every HTTP:// page you visit is visible to your Internet Service Provider. Furthermore, any ‘secure’ site you visit, the provider knows the domain of. This happens because the connection is not encrypted.
When you type the address of a website and hit ‘enter,’ you generate a request. These requests are not encrypted and appear as readable website visits to your Internet Service Provider. The key difference here is that if you visit a specific post on a website that has an HTTP:// prefix, your internet service provider can see the page itself, whereas, with an HTTPS:// prefix, the service provider is less likely to see the page but can see the domain name of the site.
Either way, this leads to a lack of privacy and expands how your browsing activity can be used for marketing and even nefarious purposes.
How to fight this drawback: If this has alarmed you, rest assured that subscribing to a dedicated line internet is not contingent on having your connection unencrypted. You can add encryption to your connection by simply opting for a high-end VPN like ExpressVPN.
VPN: A Brief Overview
VPN services have recently become popular as more people get introduced to the concept due to need-based subscriptions. Those who unblock sites with VPN know it as a web-unblocker, and those who use it to secure their data see it as a privacy tool. But what is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a connection achieved by virtual tunneling from your device to a remote server of your choosing. The remote server acts as your internet provider from where you browse the internet. It is worth mentioning that since remote servers are available in multiple countries, a VPN user may appear to be in a different location than one’s true location.
As your Internet Service Provider can see which websites you visit without a VPN, you must understand how VPNs tackle this issue. When you connect to a VPN, your internet service provider just gives you the connection to the remote server, and that server acts as your proxy for generating web-visit requests.
Since you are anonymous to the remote server, your browsing activity is not connected to you. Since the internet service provider that can identify you (your own provider) can’t see the sites you visit, your browsing activity is relatively anonymous.
While the above description may paint a picture of privacy and reliability, the fact remains that most of the world does not use VPNs. And before you decide whether a VPN is right for you, it is recommended that you understand the pros and cons of using one.
Pros of Using a VPN
Below are some of the key advantages of using a VPN.
Hide Your Online Activity From Your ISP
As mentioned earlier, your internet service provider has access to all the domain visit requests and some of the page visit requests generated over your dedicated line. This can be a privacy concern for many internet users. Besides the ability to see every site you visit, your ISP can accurately model your consumption habits.
Furthermore, not all ISPs are bound by consumer protection regulations. While Internet service providers in the United States have been directed by the FTC not to sell their customers’ browsing activity data to advertising data aggregators, the fact that they have this data is a concern for many.
With a VPN, you do not have to trust the ISP with your browsing history because an encrypted tunnel is used to visit websites. While ISPs may reverse-engineer certain visitors from the specific blacklisted URLs, the odds of you visiting websites on such watchlists are slim, and your general activity remains relatively safe.
Hide Your Online Activity From Hackers
What is mentioned regarding ISPs having access to your domain visit request also stands true for hackers if you use a WiFi router. Your dedicated line is not always plugged into a laptop. Most often, the line is plugged into a router from where you get wireless internet.
The router saves your domain list requests as well, and anyone who can connect to it can find this unencrypted data. Hackers can even see the time at which you made specific visits. From physical router theft to a hybrid approach that leverages brute force connection, there are many ways to get this data, and the only way to protect yourself is by using a VPN.
A VPN encrypts your website visit data, and what’s stored on your WiFi does not correspond to your website visits. As a result, you can be at peace regarding your privacy.
Hide Your Location From Webmasters
Do you know that your IP address can be used to find out where you are? An IP address has a format and structure that allows certain online browsers to narrow down an internet user to a block accurately. Any website you visit has access to your IP address.
While one website owner knowing you visited his page may not be alarming. But since all webmasters know your IP address, a service collecting your IP address from all websites and piecing it together can reverse engineer your entire web history.
It may seem like this is far-fetched, yet with artificial intelligence, this is precisely what big advertising firms are doing. These advertisers pay webmasters, especially in foreign countries, to give their users’ IP addresses to the firm.
The firm then feeds the addresses to artificial intelligence programs that model the users’ consumption behavior. If any IP address data comes with email (as people sign up to specific websites), the consumption behavior is used for email advertising. At best, it is annoying, and at worst, it is a severe breach of privacy outside the US jurisdiction.
VPNs are handy here as they connect to remote servers before making website visits. Therefore, the IP address that webmasters get upon your visit is a proxy IP, and your IP is safe. As a result, you do not risk your data being leaked to an advertiser.
Change Your Location for Geo-Restricted Services
Streaming has become a multi-billion dollar business, and content production houses are licensing content to multiple competing services. As a result, geo-restricted licensing deals happen, and services honoring them cannot show certain content in certain countries.
Examples of this would be Netflix not having the rights to show most of its Japanese content library anywhere else in the world except Japan.
This does not just apply to streaming services. Certain apps are banned in specific countries, which creates an uneven marketplace for apps and games. For instance, China bans most of the American social media apps on its soil. America recently came close to banning TikTok.
When you use a VPN, your phone’s location is masked as a server of your choosing. For instance, if you use one of ExpressVPN’s 94 countries to connect to the internet, you would have access to that country’s Play Store, AppStore, and Steam.
You would then download games at a different price or get access to apps you would not have in your current location. The internet is getting increasingly localized, and in such a world, it comes in handy to be able to change your location whether you are browsing in a different country’s tinder space or getting games at one-third of their US cost.
Cons of Using a VPN
Because of non-uniformity and technological limitations, VPNs pose certain disadvantages for users. Here are the ones you should know about.
A VPN May Leak Your Real IP
Not all VPNs are built alike, and most people getting to know about VPNs opt for a free service. Free VPNs rely on Point to Point Tunneling Protocol, which is obsolete and can easily lead to a WebRTC leak. When your real IP address gets leaked, the disadvantages of using unencrypted connections apply. Webmasters can still sell your information.
This is the main disadvantage of using a VPN, especially if you are unaware of its effectiveness. Because from the consumer’s point of view, all VPNs look-alike, it can be hard to find out which ones leak their real IP addresses and which ones are secure.
While relying on paid VPNs like ExpressVPN is one solution, some of the paid VPNs are also subpar. A way to make sure your VPN is secure and doesn’t leak your identity, test it with geo-restricted services like Tinder or Netflix.
If you can use these services without any error, then chances are you are sufficiently masted. But if Netflix stops you from creating a foreign account, the chances are that the website can see your real IP address.
How to fight this drawback: To make sure your WebRTC leak is not causing your real IP address to be identified by webmasters, do a WebRTC leak test every time you connect to the internet.
Some Services May Not Work
When you use a VPN to subscribe to view a specific country’s Netflix, you view content that Netflix does not have the right to show you. As a result, Netflix is liable if it does not actively block you from seeing its content.
This leads Netflix and similar services to use their research and development dollars to detect when their websites and apps are being accessed via a VPN. Whenever the service notices that you connect via VPN, it blocks your access or stops you from using the service without interruption. Cheaper VPNs can’t afford to improve their service just to bypass a single website’s VPN blocker, so their users are often left disappointed.
How to fight this drawback: Unfortunately, no VPN service will always get past detection, so your only solution is relying on a service that has a history of improving upon getting detected. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have previously been blocked by Netflix but managed to improve and can connect to the platform.
It seems likely that if in the future, these VPNs get blocked by Netflix, Tinder, HBOMax, and similar services, they will take the challenge to keep hundreds of thousands of their paying members happy.
Which One Should You Use?
Now that you have learned about dedicated line internet and VPNs, it is time to discuss which one is right for you. By now, you may have gleaned that neither service works towards the same end. While dedicated lines help you achieve stability of speed and reliability of access, VPNs help encrypt your browsing activity.
You should use a VPN if you are concerned about your privacy and your online identity’s anonymity. On the other hand, if your primary concern is your connection’s speed and stability, you should use a dedicated internet connection.
However, the services aren’t complimentary. It is worth remembering that when you have a dedicated line, your website visit requests go through your service provider, who makes sure you have a consistent speed.
On the other hand, when you connect to the internet via a proxy, your connection to a proxy is high-speed thanks to the dedicated line, but from there, the speed depends on the remote IP you are connected to. So usually, users opt for one or the other.
Who Should Use a Dedicated Internet Line?
If you doubt whether or not a dedicated line is right for you, check to see whether any of the following descriptions accurately match you.
You Are in a Time-Sensitive Internet-Connected Line of Work
Whether you are a call center agent working online from a remote office or a CEO of a corporation that provides services over the internet, you need a dedicated line to keep the speeds up and your connectivity unaffected by others browsing the internet.
You Download Large Amounts of Data
If you are a data scientist working with massive amounts of data, a lot of your work happens on the cloud. Still, whenever you need to download the data, be it for offline munging or visualization, you can sap the bandwidth of your connection. It is, therefore, ideal that you get yourself a dedicated line.
You Can Afford a Premium Service at a High Price
One does not need to use a dedicated connection solely for work-related tasks. Some people love to stream HD content at any time of the day, and others live in areas where a regular internet connection does not give the right speed. If you can afford to pay a higher price for a dedicated line, you can enjoy better speed.
Privacy Is Not That Big of a Concern
When you browse the internet for personal reasons, you may not want your ISP to know what you are up to. However, if all you do online is take calls for work, then the fact that your ISP can see your website visits may not matter as much.
Who Should Use a VPN?
If you are unsure about getting yourself a premium VPN, look below for descriptors of users for whom it would be ideal.
You Want to Hide Your Browsing Activity and Location
If you do not trust your ISP with the unencrypted data that chronicles your website visits, you can opt for a VPN service. A reliable provider will encrypt your data so your ISP can’t access it.
The websites you visit have access to your location data unless you mask it with a proxy IP address provided by a remote server that you connect to via ISP. You want to use restricted services.
If a service is geo-restricted and is available only in a specific country, you can use a proxy IP address located in that country to appear as if you are there. That will unlock the content and/or features otherwise unavailable to you at your current location.
How to Get High Speed and Privacy
When you connect to the internet with a dedicated ISP, you have bandwidth assigned just to you. However, your connection is unencrypted. But if you encrypt it via a VPN, the VPN doesn’t give you dedicated bandwidth, and your internet browsing gets slower, which defeats the purpose of having a dedicated connection.
So instead of using a dedicated line to connect to a shared-bandwidth VPN, you will need to get a dedicated VPN in addition to a dedicated internet line. This way, your internet provider will give you a set bandwidth, which you will use to connect to a VPN that will provide you with a dedicated server that will encrypt your online activity.
That means you will be paying a premium on your internet connection and your VPN, but if privacy and speed are that important, then that’s the choice to make, so you don’t have to trade one for the other.
A dedicated line connection can help you achieve reliable connectivity and high speeds at all times, thanks to a dedicated bandwidth that isn’t impacted by other users’ needs. This is great if you use the internet for work or time-sensitive online assignments.
On the other hand, a VPN gives you the ability to change your location and hide your browsing activity from ISPs and webmaster. To get the best of both worlds, it is recommended that you not only get a dedicated line from your ISP but also invest in a dedicated proxy server offered by your VPN provider.