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What is Fibre Broadband?


Not to be confused with full fibre, fibre broadband is the most widely available and accessible type of broadband in the UK.

Although not as fast as full fibre, fibre broadband it’s generally thought to be suitable for most standard households wanting an internet connection.

Fibre broadband key points: -

  • Fibre broadband is also commonly referred to as 'Fibre to the Cabinet' (FTTC) or ‘superfast broadband’.
  • It is the most common type of home broadband in the UK, replacing the much slower standard ADSL connection.
  • Fibre broadband uses a blend of fibre optic and copper telephone cables to deliver an internet connection.
  • Similar to ADSL, fibre broadband requires an active phone line to work.

How does fibre broadband work?

Fibre broadband involves running fibre optic cables from the telephone exchange to the green cabinets you often see on pavements and street corners. Then, from the cabinet to your home, standard copper telephone cables are used to complete the connection.

It is important to be aware that, if the copper has degraded, or if you live a fair distance from the roadside cabinet, your connection will be slower and less reliable than advertised speeds. How fast your connection will be can also be affected by the number of people in your street who rely on that green box for their broadband. The more people who use the internet at the same time, the more you are sharing the speed with everyone else.

Average download speeds with fibre broadband are usually between 36Mbps and 67Mbps

Which providers offer fibre broadband?

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who operate on the BT Openreach network offer fibre broadband packages. This includes BT, EE, PlusNet, Sky, Vodafone, and TalkTalk, amongst others.

How fast is fibre broadband?

Speeds with fibre broadband will vary depending on the package you opt for, but generally speaking, the average maximum download speeds offered by ISPs are as follows: 38Mbps, 52Mbps and 67Mbps. Upload rates will be between 2Mbps, 10Mbps, and 20Mbps.

The BT Openreach network has also deployed a faster fibre broadband experience called G. Fast, which can provide download speeds of up to 350Mbps and upload rates of 50Mbps. However, availability of G. Fast is extremely limited, and you must live within a minimum distance from the exchange in order for it to work.

For example, if you live within 100 metres of the cabinet and there aren’t too many others in the street using the same network, then these download and upload speeds are mostly achievable during non-peak hours.

But it's important to remember that neither the download or upload speed of a fibre connection is guaranteed and that the actual speed you’ll get will depend heavily on your distance from the cabinet, the quality of the line, and how many others are using that same cabinet to access their internet connection.

When signing up to a fibre broadband deal, your new provider should be able to tell you what your actual speeds will be.

What is fibre broadband good for?

Whether you need a fibre broadband connection or not depends on your personal circumstances, including what online activities you use the internet for, how many people you live with, and how heavy their internet usage is.

To help calculate the broadband speed you'll need, it's a good idea to allocate at least 10Mbps of bandwidth for each person in your household.

Pros and Cons of Fibre broadband

Although the most widely available type of broadband, fibre broadband still has its pros and cons.


Faster than ADSL

Because the connection between the telephone exchange and the cabinet is made by fibre optic cables, a fibre connection will provide you with faster speeds than an ADSL line, which relies solely on a connection made with copper telephone wires.

Highly available

With around a 96% availability rate, fibre broadband is one of the most accessible types of broadband in the UK.


Slower than full fibre broadband

Although Superfast broadband is much faster than ADSL, it's still much slower when compared with full fibre.

Busy network can slow you down

A busy network

If you have standard fibre broadband and your home is located a significant distance from the cabinet, or you are sharing the network with a lot of other users, the broadband speeds you get could become slowed.

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