Fibre broadband

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Fibre optic broadband is the latest advancement in broadband technology, promising fast speeds and robust connections. But what exactly is it, do you need it and how widely available is it? 

What are the different broadband options in the UK?

There are basically three types of broadband available:

ADSL delivers internet connectivity down the copper wires used by your existing phone line. ADSL speeds therefore vary according to how far you live from your local telephone exchange.

Cable uses a mix of fibre optic and coaxial cables. It’s faster than ADSL, but not yet available everywhere in Britain.

Fibre optic
With fibre optic broadband, information is carried as pulses of light down microscopically thin ‘pipes’ of glass or plastic, before being turned into internet data that your computer can relay to you.

There are two: fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).

FTTC is the most common, with fibre optic cables running to a ‘cabinet’ – the green boxes on street corners that house the telecoms connections to each home. From the cabinet, copper telephone wires take over to get the information to your home. FTTC can be fast, with providers like Sky and Plusnet delivering up to 76 Mbps. But that last leg from the cabinet to the home can slow things up. As such, speeds will vary based on how far you live from the cabinet, and on the quality of your copper wires.

FTTP also known as FTTH, or fibre-to-the-home, is usually faster because it uses fibre optic cables all the way to your property. This gets around the limitations of copper wires completely.

How fast is fibre optic broadband?

Advertised speeds usually start at 38 Mbps, but some providers now offer packages with much faster download speeds, up to 300Mbps, in fact. We’ve rounded up some of the fastest broadband deals available at the moment.

What does ‘up to’ speeds mean on the Broadband packages?

The ‘up to’ speed is usually the maximum speed you’ll be able to achieve. As ADSL is delivered along copper wire, the speed can vary very dramatically depending on how far from the telephone exchange you live. With fibre optic broadband the speed shouldn’t deviate so much, particularly if you have FTTP broadband. FTTC may be slower than the ‘up to’ speed as you’ll still be using copper from the cabinet to your house.


How do I know if I need fibre optic broadband?

Essentially, if you have multiple internet users, devices or you want to use any sort of streaming service, such as movies, music or television, or you play games online, fibre optic broadband can improve the quality. 

Why is fibre optic more reliable?

Because fibre optic broadband is made of glass, there’s no electricity involved. This means it’s protected against interference from power lines or high-voltage electrical equipment, plus it’s immune to corrosion. As a result, you can expect clearer and more reliable communications.

When will fibre optic broadband be available across the UK?

The government’s Broadband Delivery UK initiative aims to provide superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by December 2017. And even in those areas (mostly rural) where it won’t be available, the government and BT have proposed a deal that could see a new Universal Service Obligation (USO), with the aim of ensuring that everyone can request a broadband download speed of at least 10Mbps by 2020.

How can I find out whether I can get fibre optic broadband?

A simple online broadband checker can tell you if fibre broadband has reached your street. These tools also tend to feature a fibre optic speed checker – just type ‘can I get fibre optic broadband?’ into your search engine. You can also check fibre optic availability where you live by comparing broadband offers with us. 

How do I find the right fibre optic broadband option for me?

When you compare broadband offers, think carefully about what you want from your superfast connection. You might want to look for the cheapest fibre broadband you can find, but there are other things to watch out for too: download and upload speeds, data limits, installation and connection fees, charges for wireless routers and line rental, and contract tie-in periods.


Should I get unlimited data or a data limit?

Unlimited data means that you can use as much data as you like each month without being charged extra. The advantage of a limit on a capped deal is that it will usually be cheaper. However, only opt for this if you’re sure that you will stay within it. Exceeding your limit could see you hit with additional charges or your speed reduced to a crawl.

Take a look at a few things you might do online, along with how much data they use, here.

Can I cancel my broadband package at any time?

Whichever broadband package you opt for, make sure you’re comfortable with the overall cost for the whole contract period. Cancellation fees usually apply if you want to switch early, and they can be high.

Comparing fibre optic broadband deals

There’s a really simple way to compare deals and the good news is, you’re in the right place. Start a quote with us and we’ll help to make comparing fibre optic broadband deals really easy. All you need to do is tell us your postcode and we’ll show you all the deals you can take advantage of. Try it today to see what you could save.