Also known as fibre broadband or superfast fibre broadband, superfast broadband uses fibre optic cabling to deliver online content into homes and workplaces. It does this at speeds far superior to the traditional Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) connections, also known as standard broadband. The latter rely on copper telephone wires to transfer data, but copper is an inefficient data conductor and delivers comparatively slow internet services.
A decade ago, fibre broadband was considerably more expensive than standard broadband. But with coverage growing and provider prices dropping, superfast fibre broadband is becoming the standard offering from internet service providers (ISPs).
There are two types of superfast broadband: Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).
FTTC superfast broadband involves fibre optic cables extending from the local telephone exchange to green or grey street cabinets on the pavement near your home. From here, a standard copper telephone wire leads into your property, throttling end-user data speeds.
Also known as full fibre, FTTP broadband continues those fibre cables from the local exchange directly into your home. This avoids data slowing down on the last leg of its journey, and delivers the fastest broadband speeds currently available. However, this tends to be referred to as ultrafast broadband, rather than superfast.
Superfast broadband speeds start at 24 megabytes per second (Mbps), all the way up to 300Mbps. Standard broadband only extends up to 24Mbps, and often struggles to achieve half that speed.
These are some of the reasons to consider a superfast connection over a standard one:
Superfast broadband supports streaming and downloading faster than ever before. Uploading media files won’t paralyse downloads for other people on separate devices, and buffering is unlikely to be an issue even if two people are viewing video on-demand simultaneously.
Since superfast broadband uses fibre-optic cables, it’s less likely that your internet connection will drop out, ensuring files are uploaded or downloaded quickly in one sitting.
Superfast connections can simultaneously support connections for PCs and tablets, smart speakers and smart TVs, all without slowing down. An ADSL connection may deliver frustratingly slow web browsing speeds if a smart TV is on, a cloud-controlled home heating system is operating in the background and a smartphone is transmitting game data.
Generally not, thanks to affordable ISP deals. Costs can be further reduced with bundles that include telephone services, entertainment packages and even mobile phone contracts. Affordable superfast and full fibre broadband deals are available to view here on Money.co.uk.
Virgin Media uses an exclusive cable network which eliminates the traditional need for a copper phone line. However, this means there are limitations on its coverage compared to standard landlines, which can be installed in pretty much any property in the United Kingdom. Other ISPs including EE and Sky are starting to offer SOGEA services, which effectively strip out the landline requirement from broadband connections.
It’s worth noting that an obligation to have a phone line doesn’t mean you need to have a telephone plugged into the master socket, pay for calls, or use the line for anything else.
There are many superfast broadband providers to choose from. To compare superfast broadband providers in your area, enter your postcode and current provider in the Money.co.uk fibre broadband deals checker.
Leading ISPs in this sector include:
According to Ofcom, 95% of UK properties can currently access superfast broadband. Start the process by checking if it’s available in your area. You may even be able to obtain no contract broadband at superfast speeds, though this tends to work out more expensive over the course of a year unless there may be long periods where connectivity isn’t needed.
You may be unable to get superfast where and when you’re looking for it, for a variety of reasons. These could include properties in remote areas with no fibre optic infrastructure, or a private dwelling positioned too far away from the nearest street cabinet. The UK Government has committed to giving every home gigabit-capable connectivity by 2025, and although this pledge is unlikely to be met, the vast majority of homes should have superfast connections by then.
Superfast broadband is defined as a connection up to 300Mbps, with ultrafast broadband extending between 300Mbps and 1000Mbps – better known as one gigabit per second, or 1Gbps. This may be beneficial if more than one person in your home is an avid gamer, or where several people tend to be streaming HD or 4K media content simultaneously. It’s advisable for households with multiple smart TVs or the latest games consoles, preventing people from experiencing compromised connectivity.
These are the UK’s main ultrafast broadband providers:
To begin with, check if your property has access to ultrafast broadband by using a postcode checker. Compile a list of ISPs offering broadband services, and then determine whether superfast or ultrafast is better for your household’s specific connectivity requirements.
Last updated: 14 December 2020