According to Ofcom, 96% of UK households have access to superfast broadband, delivered via fibre optic cables. When you’re shopping around for broadband, you might find the terms fibre broadband and superfast broadband used interchangeably.
With many internet service providers (ISP’s) offering fibre broadband in the United Kingdom, it can be challenging to find the best deals to suit your needs. Here at The Money Pig, we provide a handy comparison tool that you can use to discover which fibre broadband deals are available where you live. As well as using our broadband comparison tool, you can check out our guide to fibre broadband below.
How is Fibre Broadband Different to Regular Broadband?
Regular broadband is delivered via ADSL, which uses copper cables throughout the communications network.
Fibre broadband, as the name suggests, uses fibre optic cables.
Using fibre optic cabling allows ISP’s to supply faster broadband services. In turn, this leads to better user experience and the ability to stream video and music quicker and shorten the time it takes to download files.
Standard broadband services typically offer average download speeds of between 9MB – 11MB. You can view how specific providers compare using our broadband reviews.
Fibre broadband is typically internet with average download speeds of 35MB or higher. Superfast broadband is defined as internet with download speeds quicker than 30MB, hence you may see the terms superfast and fibre used interchangeably.
However, fibre broadband can encompass a broad range of different services.
Do I Even Need Fibre Broadband?
Fast internet is always attractive, but you might not necessarily need it.
If you live alone, don’t stream content, and only use the internet for reading the news and using social media sites, you don’t need fibre broadband. A slower broadband package will both save you money and suit your needs.
On the other hand, if you live in a house with your family of four, and you and your partner devour Netflix boxsets while the kids play Fortnite, you’ll need fibre broadband.
Not all Fibre Broadband is Created Equally
While fibre broadband will always be quicker than standard broadband, how fast your internet is will depend on the type of fibre connection you have.
It’s worth checking how an ISP will deliver your fibre broadband to understand the quality of the service you will receive. We outline the two types of fibre broadband delivery below:
- Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). FTTC broadband is delivered to your local internet exchange via fibre optic cables, and then from the exchange to your home via copper cables.
- Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). FTTP is delivered via fibre optic cables across the network, directly to your home. FTTP is the faster of the two types of fibre broadband.
Most households in the UK currently have FTTC. However, BT Openreach is presently undertaking an upgrade program across the country’s broadband network to make FTTP more accessible to a more significant proportion of homes.
What’s the Difference Between Different Fibre Broadband Packages?
You’re likely familiar with the term superfast broadband.
However, in addition to superfast broadband, you might find yourself finding fibre broadband packages called ultrafast and hyperfast broadband.
What does each of these terms mean?
- Superfast Broadband. Broadband with average download speeds above 30MB.
- Ultrafast Broadband. Ofcom defines ultrafast as broadband that provides average download speeds of over 300MB. However, ISP’s typically advertise ultrafast broadband at speeds over 100MB. If you’re shopping around for ultrafast fibre broadband, check the actual speed being advertised and not just the name of the package.
- Hyperfast broadband. Hyperfast broadband is the only type of fibre broadband that requires FTTP delivery. Hyperfast broadband, sometimes called Gigafast broadband, offers average download speeds of over 1GB or more. As of June 2020, only a handful of providers offer such speeds and very few locations in the UK can receive these.
From a user perspective, a faster fibre broadband connection means you can do things more quickly. You will be able to stream content smoother, potentially in better quality, and downloads of everything from videogame content to large work files will be quicker.
Can I Get Fibre Broadband?
It depends where you live.
However, with Ofcom saying 96% of UK households can get fibre broadband and superfast services, you can likely access fibre broadband. However, you may only be able to access superfast speeds, rather than ultrafast and hyperfast internet services.
Most of the UK’s broadband is delivered via FTTC, with only 12% of homes currently receiving FTTP and able to get hyperfast services if an ISP offers it in their location.
When you use our broadband comparison tool, let us know your postcode, and we’ll show you the broadband services you’re able to receive.
Why Can’t Some Households Get Fibre Broadband?
Most of the 4% of UK households that cannot receive fibre broadband are in rural areas. Upgrading cable networks to be able to deliver FTTC can be expensive. If there’s a rural location with only a handful of properties, it may not be economically viable to replace the cables.
Another obstacle to receiving fibre broadband can be communal living spaces such as blocks of flats and apartments. Internal wiring issues or the presence of one shared internet receiver can lead many who live in these locations to take out a dongle plan or another type of mobile broadband.
Even some households in built-up areas may not be able to receive fibre broadband if a location is too densely populated. There’s only so much space and capacity for fibre cabling!
Which ISP’s Offer Fibre Broadband?
The majority of UK ISP’s provide their services via the BT Openreach network, although some, such as Virgin Media, do own their network and infrastructure. Despite most ISP’s providing their services across the same network, there can be considerable differences in the speeds and quality of service provided.
Check out our broadband reviews of UK ISP’s to understand where the best value lies for you.
Can I Get Fibre Broadband Without Landline Phone Rental Costs?
Unless you live in one of the 12% of households that can receive FTTP broadband, you will need a phone line to deliver your fibre broadband services.
However, most ISP’s give you a price with the line rental included, so you shouldn’t need to worry about this when shopping around for fibre broadband deals.
Some ISP’s, such as Three, offer fibre broadband alternatives via mobile data networks. These use no cabling at all and may work out cheaper and better value depending on the speeds available where you live.
Can I Get Fibre Broadband Only Deals with No Add-Ons?
It is common for ISP’s to bundle fibre broadband with TV plans and other services. However, you can buy fibre broadband as a standalone service if this is more convenient. You may also find you can get better value purchasing different services from individual providers.