If you're looking to upgrade your internet connection, fibre
optic broadband could be the perfect solution. For starters, it's a
heck of a lot faster than standard ADSL, and with BT and Virgin
Media now offering amazing speeds up to 100Mbps, there's never been
a better time to upgrade. But what is fibre optic, how much does it
cost and where is fibre optic available? Before you commit to a
superfast broadband bundle that's more pricey than standard
broadband, make sure you understand the pros and cons.
How fast is fibre optic broadband?
So what does a superfast fibre internet connection mean in terms
of download and streaming 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
The anatomy of fibre optic 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
Pros and cons of 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
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
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
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".