Compare Fibre Optic Broadband
Fibre optic broadband explained
Fibre optic broadband or cable broadband is the biggest innovation in Internet access technology since the advent of broadband.
Fibre optic technology opens up the full power of the Internet like never before, delivering download speeds many times faster than any previous technology thanks to the revolutionary nature of fibre optics.
How does fibre optic broadband work?
The principal difference with fibre optic broadband is the way in which the information is carried.
The UK’s current telephone network is limited by the physical properties of the copper wire along which data is delivered. The further your home is from your local exchange the longer the data will take to reach you. This means that for many users living in remote locations the distance to the exchange can slow their Internet connection dramatically.
Fibre optic networks transfer data over fine glass or plastic fibres. These fibres allow data to travel as discrete pulses of light rather than as electrical signals.
As light travels much faster than electrical signals, incredibly high speeds can be achieved across fibre optic networks. Users don’t experience the same drop off in speed the further away from the exchange they are.
Who discovered fibre optic technology?
The use of fibre optics in communications was first proposed as far back as the mid-1960s by two researchers at STL (Harlow).
Charles Kao and his research partner George Hockman put forward the idea that fibre optic cables transmitting light could one day replace copper wires to carry telephone signals. But, as with many scientific discoveries, it would be many years before the technology would be put to work commercially.
Then, in 1977, the age of fibre optic communication was born when the American communications operator General Telephone and Electronics installed the world’s first fibre optic network in California. At the time the technology was only used to carry phone signals but once the Internet age was born the technology could be very easily adapted to carry data rather than voice calls.
Today, fibre optic communications are very well established in many parts of the world with some ISPs in the Far East delivering broadband speeds above 1Gb.
The UK is starting to see a real boom in demand for the technology as it continues to supersede the increasingly outdated copper wire method of Internet access.
Who provides fibre optic broadband in the UK?
An increasing amount of providers are now offering fibre broadband such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT, EE, Talk Talk and Plusnet. Other providers are expected to join the market over the coming years as fibre broadband becomes more and more established.
How fast is fibre optic broadband?
As with all types of broadband, fibre optic packages are advertised by their “up to” speed, i.e. the maximum speed that the package is capable of delivering. Virgin Media offers up to 30Mb, 60Mb and, in some areas of the UK, up to 100Mb broadband. The other domestic fibre optic providers in the UK include BT and Plusnet.
Are there different types of fibre optic broadband?
There are two different types of fixed-line fibre broadband, FTTH (Fibre to the Home) and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet).
With FTTH the line is connected directly to subscribers’ homes. This makes it the faster of the two systems, as there is no copper wire compromising the efficiency.
With FTTC the fibre optic network only travels as far as a user’s cabinet, the roadside box from which all of the lines in that neighbourhood emanate. The final leg of the journey from the cabinet to the subscriber’s home uses the pre-existing copper phone line and so the broadband signal is at risk of slowing down.
Whether a provider uses FTTH or FTTC the broadband connection should still be a lot faster than any other method of Internet access.
Where is it available?
Fibre optic broadband is already available to millions of homes in the UK so chances are that your area may already be connected.
So far fibre optic providers have focused on large towns and cities for connection to their networks. Some outlying rural communities have also become connected as a result of local petitions and initiatives undertaken by ISPs and local councils.
Are fibre optic broadband deals available in my area?
To check availability in your area you can use our postcode checker at the top of this page. We’ll then be able to tell you instantly which providers are available and we’ll show you a full breakdown of all the packages that you have to choose from. The UK’s fibre optic providers are engaged in extensive ongoing programmes of fibre broadband roll out, so if your area isn’t connected yet there’s a good chance that it may be soon.
If our postcode checker tells you that the fibre optic network hasn’t reached your home yet why not sign up for our fibre optic broadband alerts? If you do we'll contact you just as soon as the fibre optic network reaches you.
High availability areas
Some areas of the country have high availability already. These areas include:
London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Trafford, Warrington & York.