For many people, having a fast and reliable internet connection is crucial – especially for those who stream and play games online a lot. Opting for a fibre-optic broadband package is just one of the ways to make sure your home broadband has the best speed for your needs.
Fibre broadband is a type of broadband that uses fibre-optic cables to provide high-speed broadband. This is because fibre cables can transfer data much better and faster than copper, meaning it can provide really fast broadband speeds – much faster than traditional ADSL. This is ideal broadband for film and TV fanatics and avid online gamers.
Many of us are used to standard ADSL broadband, which uses copper telephone cables to connect homes to broadband. With this type of connection, you’re likely to only get broadband speeds of around 11Mbps – enough to carry out basic internet tasks.
There are two different ways fibre can be delivered to your home:
This is the most common type of fibre broadband and works by having fibre cables run from the broadband exchange to the green cabinet on your street. However, the rest of the distance to your home uses traditional copper. This is the type of fibre broadband that providers like BT, EE, Plusnet and Sky offer and you can expect speeds of around 30 – 70Mbps.
This is the fastest broadband you can get in the UK (also known as fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) and this is achieved by running fibre-optic cables directly from the local cabinet and straight to the home. Because it doesn’t use copper at all, speeds are much higher and it’s also more reliable. However, it’s not widely available so you may struggle to get FTTH in your area.
Virgin Media is probably the exception to this rule as it is available to around 60% of the UK and offers FTTH broadband to most of its customers with speeds up to 360Mbps.
Whether you need fibre broadband or not will largely depend on the type of internet user you are. If you only use the internet occasionally to carry out basic tasks like browsing the web, sending emails and using online banking, standard ADSL broadband should be enough for you.
Fibre-optic broadband is more suited to heavy internet users and large households with multiple devices that require a connection.
You can find out more about choosing the right broadband for your needs here.
The majority of people in the UK should be able to get fibre broadband – Ofcom states that fibre broadband is currently available to 95% of the UK.
In January 2020, Ofcom also proposed new, flexible regulation to help “fuel a full-fibre future” for the whole of the UK, so it’s likely we will see fibre even more widely accessible in the years to come.
You can find out whether fibre is available in your area using this handy postcode checker.
It may be that your home already has a fibre connection set up. If that’s the case all you need is for your provider to send you the equipment to get connected. Usually all you need to do is plug in your router and you’re good to go.
If not, you may need an engineer to install a new line or set up the connection to your home. Your broadband provider will be able to organise this with you for a convenient time.
If you’ve been shopping around for the best fibre broadband deal, you are likely to have come across the terms ‘superfast’ and ‘ultrafast’. These words are basically used to describe broadband speed. Superfast broadband covers speeds between 30 and 300Mbps. So, if your current connection speed is 50Mbps, you have superfast broadband. Ultrafast is used to describe broadband speeds of 300Mbps and up (though many providers label their 100Mbps+ products as ‘ultrafast’). Hyperfast is a relatively new term and describes broadband speeds of 1000Mbps (or 1Gbps) and over.
Typically, fibre broadband is more expensive than standard ADSL broadband, but you do get a lot more for your buck. There are also a lot of budget providers that offer cheap fibre broadband packages to suit most budgets.
Here are just some of the providers offering affordable fibre packages:
This budget provider specialises in offering cheap broadband for its customers. Currently its fibre-optic broadband packages offer speeds of either 36Mbps or 66Mbps. As it stands, its fibre packages are likely to be the cheapest around.
Like Plusnet, TalkTalk offers fibre broadband at competitive prices and is one of the cheapest providers around. Its fibre speeds range from 38Mbps to 145Mbps. Its Ultra Fibre-Optic Internet (UFO) can provide speeds of around 900Mbps but it isn’t widely available just yet.
Again, Direct Save offers low-cost fibre broadband with two speeds available – 35Mbps and 63Mbps. It also offers FTTH which can give you speeds up to 300Mbps, although it’s not widely available across the UK.
In addition to the budget providers mentioned above, there are many more brands offering great fibre speeds – although they may not be as cheap as the likes of Plusnet and TalkTalk.
This popular brand offers everything from ‘superfast’ to ‘ultrafast’ broadband. With BT Superfast Broadband you can choose from three packages: BT Fibre Essential (36Mbps), BT Fibre 1 (50Mbps) and BT Fibre 2 (67Mbps). BT’s range of Ultrafast Broadband deals have speeds ranging between 152 and 314Mbps.
Sky currently has two fibre deals available in its portfolio. With Sky Broadband Superfast you can get speeds of 59Mbps and with its Ultrafast Fibre Broadband you can get average speeds of 145Mbps.
A lot of the top broadband providers give you the opportunity to bundle in TV and phone services with your broadband package – it’s usually cheaper to do it this way. The main TV services available are:
Virgin Media TV
YouView (provided by Plusnet)
You can also bundle in any landline call plans to your broadband package with a lot of broadband providers. For example, with TalkTalk you can add a ‘calling boost’ to your deal. Some of the extras you can add include: Unlimited UK Calls, Mobile Minutes Boost, Voicemail Plus and International Max.
With superfast and ultrafast fibre broadband you can bring seamless and reliable connectivity to your household. It offers the fastest speeds in the UK and is ideal if you are a heavy internet user.
You can get it quite cheap if you do your research – many budget providers are offering fibre broadband deals for as little as £20 a month. Also, it’s not only faster, but it’s capable of hosting more devices without slowing down – meaning you can get the best out of all of your connected devices.
The broadband speed you can get will heavily depend on the type of broadband connection you choose. Here are just some of the options available.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), also known as standard broadband is the most common broadband connection in the UK. It uses the same copper wires that connect your home telephone lines and transfers data from your provider to your home. On average you can expect speeds up to 11Mbps (or 16Mbps in some scenarios).
More suited for rural areas, bonded broadband provides a reliable broadband service by combining at least two standard phone lines to create a fast internet connection.
Cable broadband connects your home to a fibre cabinet in your area using coaxial cables instead of copper wires like ADSL. It offers much faster broadband with speeds starting at 36Mbps and exceeding 300Mbps with some providers.
With mobile broadband you access the internet using a wireless router, dongle or data-only SIM card. It relies on 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks, using the same signal that your phone will use for the internet.
Again, this type of connection is ideal if you live in a rural location where you can’t get fixed-line basic broadband. It offers speeds similar to ADSL broadband, but you will need to have a satellite dish installed in your home.
Virgin Media runs its own fibre-based cable broadband network, and is best known for offering some of the best broadband speeds in the UK, offering a vast range of speedy offerings.
|Deal name||Avg speed|
|Virgin Media M50 Fibre||54Mbps|
|Virgin Media M100 Fibre||108Mbps|
|Virgin Media M200 Fibre||213Mbps|
|Virgin Media M350 Fibre||362Mbps|
|Virgin Media M600 Fibre||600Mbps|
|Virgin Media Gig1 Fibre||1Gbps|
Limited broadband is cheaper than unlimited, but you are restricted to the amount of data you can use.
If you like to regularly download files, stream online content and use video calling services like Zoom or Skype, you could find yourself going over your limit and end up paying extra. If you use your broadband that often, it might be wise to save money with a limited broadband package.
Yes. In most instances you will need a new fibre router when you take out your broadband package. Your provider will likely send this to you ahead of your activation date.
Checking your broadband speed is really easy. All you need to do is load up the Uswitch broadband speed test, put in your details, and you will then find out what your current broadband speed is.
A lot of providers will include line rental as standard with a fibre broadband package. But, there are companies out there that do offer broadband-only, such as Gigaclear and Hyperoptic.