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Fibre Optic Broadband Guide: Deals, providers and availability

Fibre optic broadband is a superfast internet service that is available in most highly populated areas of the UK. This guide will help you find out if you can get fibre optic broadband in your area, how fast it is likely to be and how to compare fibre optic deals from providers including Sky and Virgin Media.

By on May 23, 2013 at 08:40 AM
Fibre Optic Broadband Guide: Deals, providers and availability

Fibre optic internet is faster and more stable than traditional ADSL broadband, and it's ideal for large households with lots of people needing to get online at the same time. If you're considering a fibre optic broadband deal with superfast speeds, here's what you need to know.

What is fibre optic broadband?

Fibre optic internet runs via special glass cables under the ground. It doesn't require the copper wires used for your landline, like standard ADSL broadband, so it's faster and more stable. Currently, the 'up to' speeds for fibre optic broadband max out at around 100Mbps, but BT and Openreach have tapped into a new 300Mbps connection that should be available from selected internet service providers soon.

How fast is fibre optic broadband?

Fibre internet is considered 'superfast', because it gives you better speeds than standard ADSL broadband. Here's what that means in actual terms:

 Different _download _times

Who provides fibre optic broadband in the UK?

The current main suppliers are Virgin Media and BT; however there are other firms who provide the service based on BT's network infrastructure including TalkTalk, Plusnet and Sky. Both Virgin Media and BT continue to expand their reach in the UK.


If there is a particular Fibre optic broadband provider you are keen on switching to, you can use our provider check to see if their deals are available in your area.



Can I get fibre optic broadband?

Use our postcode checker tool to see if a superfast fibre optic broadband deal is available in your area.

If not, don't worry - give our friendly Switching Advisors a call, and they'll recommend the fastest possible service available in your local area. It's free to call and you won't miss out on a great deal if you ask the experts what's around.

Fibre Optic broadband - the technical stuff

Fibre optic broadband is the future of high-speed internet. Just as ADSL broadband internet was an enormous step forward compared to the original 56k dial-up connections, fibre optic broadband has been a massive leap in the evolution of how we get online.

Standard ADSL broadband is limited to 24Mbps but fibre connections in the UK can provide users with lightning-fast speeds reaching 100Mbps, a figure which may be tripled by the end of 2013. Faster speeds and faster downloads mean that we can consume and share more information online than ever before. Thanks to fibre optic broadband, the future of the internet is both bright and speedy.

The anatomy of fibre optic cables

 Anatomy _fibre _cables

How does it work?

Fibre optic broadband works by sending information as pulses of light through individual optical fibres.  Compared to ADSL which transmits down copper wires, fibre optics have less interference, keep the signal strength over much greater distances and operate at a higher frequency range. Higher frequency means greater bandwidth, and greater bandwidth means faster connection speeds.

Pros and cons of fibre

     Pros _cons _fibre

Different types of fibre optic broadband

Not all fibre optic broadband is created equal. A fibre optic customer may receive their service on a mixture of fibre optic and copper wires in three different configurations: FTTC, FTTP and FTTH.

Different _fibre _types

FTTC: In many cases in the UK, fibre optic cables only extend as far as the street (to large cabinets that sit on the pavement, linking your house to the exchange). Connections to the actual building are then standard copper wires. This is referred to as FTTC (Fibre-To-The-Cabinet).

FTTP: If there is a further fibre connection to the building itself, it is known as FTTP (Fibre-To-The-Premises), but in a shared building, internal wiring may mean that individual apartments still rely on copper wires to deliver that signal up to their home.

FTTH: This is Fibre-To-The-Home and means that there is a fast fibre connection all the way from the exchange to the customer's front door / living room.

As you might expect, the 'pure fibre' FTTH and the 'almost pure fibre' FTTP are the fastest types of connection, but also the least supported. The slightly slower 'hybrid fibre' connection of FTTC makes up around 80 per cent of all fibre connections in the UK 

The future of fibre

The speeds will keep going up. BT plans to boost its current FTTC offering from 40Mbps to 80Mbps, and FTTP from 100Mbps to 330Mbps (on demand for now) which would make the firm the fastest broadband provider in the UK;

In the future, fibre-like speeds could be delivered to rural areas via FTTA or- Fibre-Through-The-Air. No, this doesn't mean running a very long lead to the nearest satellite. FTTA mixes various platforms such as antennas, modems, radios and CPEs (equipment that you have at home, such as routers) and merges all of their signals into one. This is similar to a single fibre combining wavelengths to boost capacity. The solution could be great for rural areas, as the signals are not weakened due to complex geography (forests, hills, mountains).

A great example of a FTTA scheme is a France-based project powered by Bluwan, which aims to provide "multi-gigabit wireless solutions with fibre-like speeds and capacity".