Superfast broadband for all is the future however, currently only certain areas are covered by the fibre infrastructure needed to offer speeds over 100mbps. Having access to this capability makes pages load in the blink of an eye and downloads appear in seconds. Unfortunately for some, fibre is very much a postcode lottery.
Here’s how to check whether fibre is available in your area and get an idea of the speeds you can expect before signing up for a broadband deal…
Broadband availability checker
UK networks have been carefully mapped, which allows users to check the speeds they can expect to receive. Online tools like our comparison tool make this task easy. Just enter your postcode to see a full breakdown of all the broadband packages available in your area along with predicted speeds. If fibre options are included, then you can sign up for this service.
What to expect
Not all fibre connections are created equally. The big difference is the cable that runs from the local telephone cabinet to your home. Most ISPs only offer FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) – a fibre cable runs to the local cabinet but a copper cable carries the connection into your home. Consumers with this system can expect speeds up to 76mbps -more than three times the speed of traditional copper cable broadband.
An FTTH (fibre to the home) connection is far more desirable, but you will be lucky to get this. Fibre cables carry the signal to the cabinet and then on to your home. Speeds for this type of connection can reach 120mbps but are expected to be higher in the near future. In the UK, only Virgin Media provides this service.
BT and Virgin Media are both expanding their fibre networks. Virgin is currently implementing ‘Project Lightning’ which will bring superfast fibre connections to another four million homes before 2020. You can check whether your street will be added to its network on its dedicated cablemystreet site.
Competitors BT provide fibre access to other ISPs – TalkTalk, Plusnet and Sky. BT also plans to enlarge its fibre network. Its most recent announcement promised a multimillion pound expansion to bring fibre to another two million homes.
As the respective networks expand, more homes will be able to access superfast broadband. In rural areas this may take a lot longer so if you want a quicker connection in the countryside, consider 4G. The fourth generation mobile network can offer speeds up to 20mbps – faster than a broadband connection but not equal to fibre speeds. You can connect with a simple dongle. Check 4G coverage on the Ofcom website before committing to any contract.