Fiber broadband is much faster and more reliable than standard ADSL broadband, which means it may be worth considering if you live in a large household. Here we tell you everything you need to know.

What is high speed fiber?

Fiber or broadband optic fiber is one of three types of broadband technology widely available in the UK and as the name suggests is provided in whole or in part by fiber optic cables. Instead of using the standard copper wires used for the usual broadband connections, it uses plastic or glass cables.

The other two types of broadband you will come across are:

  • ADSL: Asymmetric digital subscriber line broadband is the most common and cheapest type of broadband connection. It is also the slowest and is routed by standard copper wires that carry your telephone line.
  • Cable: it is less widely available than ADSL but offers faster download speeds. It is delivered via fiber optic and coaxial cables and usually offered by Virgin Media.

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How does fiber broadband work?

Data can travel over fiber optic cables at the speed of light, which means it won’t slow down over distances and you’ll get a more reliable internet connection.

There are different ways to get high speed fiber optic to your home. These include:

  • Fiber to Cabinet (FTTC): this is the most common connection and it increases basic broadband speeds by connecting fiber optic cables to the green cabinet on your street. This is then connected to your home or business with copper wires at slower speeds. For this reason, you will always need a phone line, although most plans come with a landline anyway.
  • Fiber to premises (FTTP): This is also known as Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and this is where the fiber optic cables are routed directly to your property. Because there are no copper wires, it can offer super-fast speeds, but it is the most expensive and least widely available option.

Can I benefit from fiber broadband in my region?

Fiber optic broadband is now available for 95% of UK properties according to telecommunications regulator Ofcom, which means most of us can get super-fast broadband.

However, if you want your entire connection to be fiber optic cable – known as full fiber broadband – your options will be considerably more limited. Towns and villages tend to be better served than rural areas.

There are two main fiber optic broadband networks in the UK: the Openreach network and Virgin Media. The majority of broadband providers use the Openreach network, so if you want to see what’s available in your area, you can enter your zip code on the Openreach Fiber Broadband Checker.

Virgin Media uses its own fiber network.

What fiber broadband can I get in London?

As the nation’s capital, London is home to some of the fastest broadband speeds on our coast thanks to wide all-fiber coverage. It also has one of the widest choices of broadband service providers available.

Some broadband service providers such as Community Fiber, for example, are exclusively available in London.

Here’s a look at the best broadband rates available in London, sorted by download speed:

What speeds does fiber broadband offer?

According to Ofcom, lightning-fast FTTC fiber optic connections offer download speeds of at least 30 Mbps (megabits per second), while lightning-fast FTTP connections offer download speeds of at least 300 Mbps. In comparison, standard broadband speeds are around 11 Mbps.

Note that since most broadband providers use the Openreach network, they all offer similar speeds. Virgin Media, however, has its own cable network and can currently offer faster download speeds, averaging around 516 Mbps.

Do I need fiber broadband?

Using “ultra-fast” or “ultra-fast” fiber broadband allows you to:

  • download at faster speeds
  • make high quality video calls
  • easy access to online TV and music streaming services
  • have several people using the broadband connection at the same time in your home without significant slowdown

However, whether fiber broadband is right for you will depend on your internet usage and the number of people living in your home.

You might want to take this into account if, for example, you live in a large household and stream a lot of movies through Netflix and Amazon, regularly watch catch-up services like BBC iPlayer, or regularly play and download video games.

But if none of the above applies to you, you might find that standard broadband is sufficient.

How to install fiber optic broadband?

If you want to install high speed fiber, you will need to compare broadband offers in the same way as you would with standard broadband, filtering the results by monthly cost or fastest speed.

To get the best fiber broadband agreement for you, also consider the length of the contract as well as whether you want an unlimited plan which means you don’t have to worry about download limits.

Once you’ve found the right deal, depending on what you already have in your home, an engineer may need to come in and install new equipment, such as a modem and / or router.

Your supplier can tell you more about this. If you do not have a telephone line or cable TV line, this will also need to be installed, along with jacks for the connections.

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