You’ve probably heard a lot about fibre broadband and how it can boost your connection speeds for smoother streaming and faster downloads. It’s also available to around 95% of homes and businesses in the UK, so chances are you’ll be able to upgrade. Before diving into a new broadband deal, it’s always a good idea to check up on the fibre availability in your area. You can use an online fibre broadband checker to see whether your home or business is eligible.
In most cases, yes. Fibre broadband is now available to the majority of the country, so it’s extremely likely that your area is included. However, you might be meaning to ask ‘can I get cable broadband in my area?’, which is a slightly different question.
Cable broadband (also known as Full Fibre) is a specific kind of fibre optic broadband that offers a substantial upgrade on your standard broadband packages. It’s not as widely available as normal fibre broadband, but is considered the best option for anyone looking for high-speed connections.
The reason for this speed is that cable broadband uses fibre optic cables all the way to the house, making it a ‘Fibre to the Home’ (FTTP) connection that is sometimes referred to as ‘full fibre’. The alternative is a ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ (FTTC) connection that uses copper wiring from the street-level cabinet to the home, making it slightly slower.
For the majority of suppliers, fibre optic will mean FTTC connections, which reach impressive superfast speeds and are likely more than sufficient for most households. If you are in the market for ultrafast broadband, you will need to look at a smaller selection of suppliers, with Virgin Media offering the widest, albeit still limited, coverage.
The alternatives to fibre broadband are ADSL (also known as standard broadband) and mobile Wi-Fi, and comparative to these in terms of speed, reliability and price, fibre will almost always be the most logical choice.
Nearly all homes have access to fibre these days, but there are several reasons why you may not be able to upgrade. These include:
You live in a remote area where fibre optic cabling is unavailable or the landscape makes it difficult to install
You live too far from the street cabinet and fibre optic cabling cannot be run directly to your house
You live in an older property with wiring that cannot support fibre optic
You live in a high-demand area for fibre, and your closest cabinet cannot accommodate additional connections
If fibre is currently unavailable where you live, then you can probably expect it to arrive in the next few years. Providers are in constant competition to provide the best services and value to customers, and this means that fibre is becoming more and more available in all areas of the UK.
If you’re unable to get fibre because of the high demand in your area, then stay on top of the updates to see how this changes. The local exchanges are often upgraded to allow for more and more connections, so you might be able to get your hands on fibre sooner than expected.
It’s actually a lot easier than you might expect. All you need to do is contact your provider (or a new one if you’re planning on switching) and sign up to a fibre package. If you’ve not used a fibre connection before, then your supplier may send an engineer to your home to install the right equipment for your socket. Depending on your broadband deal, you may need to pay for this.
Once you’ve got the correct socket you’re ready to get up and running. Just plug in your new router and your fibre service will be ready to use.
If you’ve checked up on the fibre availability in your area, the next question that comes up is: what exactly is fibre? As you probably already know, fibre refers to a higher speed connection than standard ADSL broadband. This is because it makes use of state-of-the-art fibre optic cables that are able to transmit data at much higher speeds than traditional copper wiring.
Upgrading to fibre can greatly improve your connection speeds, making it a good choice for households with heavy internet usage. If you live in a busy household that likes to share large files, play online video games or stream movies in HD, then you’re likely to benefit from an upgrade.
Another point to note is that fibre packages tend to be only slightly more expensive than the standard ADSL offering. For a small investment each month you can get much higher speeds, meaning it’s a worthwhile choice for most households.
If there’s fibre broadband availability in your area then you’ll probably notice that there are two different options. These are referred to as Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Home (FTTH).
To reiterate, FTTC connections use the high-speed fibre optic cables to deliver data as far as the street-level cabinet, before switching to copper wiring to make the last leg of the journey to your home. FTTH, on the other hand, uses fibre optic cabling all the way to your home. FTTH connections tend to be faster than FTTC.
Of course, you’ll have to check up on fibre optic availability in your area first to see if this is a possibility for your home. Once you know that, you can take your pick of most of the providers on the market today, as nearly all of them offer fibre packages. Here’s a summary of what’s offered by some of the biggest providers:
BT: BT is the most popular provider in the UK and offers a range of fibre broadband packages.
Sky: You’ll find a range of different high-speed fibre packages with Sky. If you’re also looking for a TV subscription, there are options to bundle this up with a fibre package and get better deals.
EE Broadband: There is a range of different fibre deals available with EE, and these are offered at discounted prices for EE mobile customers.
Plusnet: Like many other networks on the market today, Plusnet offers several fibre packages at different speeds. Plusnet has won awards in customer service, making it a good choice for those looking for excellent support.
TalkTalk: TalkTalk offers several different fibre packages at different speeds to suit your usage requirements. TalkTalk promotes value for money deals.
Post Office Broadband: The Post Office has both ADSL and fibre options available, at a range of different speeds to suit your needs and budget.
Virgin Media: If you’re after the highest speeds on the market, then take a look at the fibre package offerings at Virgin Media.
Vodafone: All of Vodafone’s internet packages are fibre, so you can take your pick. It’s also known for its high-quality routers and good customer service.
John Lewis Broadband: John Lewis provides access to excellent customer service and highly reliable broadband service.