Cable broadband explained
In this guide
- Our best deals
- Can I get cable broadband?
- How to compare cable broadband
- Why choose cable broadband?
- Pros and cons
- Which package should I choose?
- What will I need?
- How do I switch?
Our best cable broadband deals in December 2021
Can I get cable broadband in my area?
The first step is to check availability. We’ll tells you which packages are available at your property. You can do this by entering your postcode into our availability checker.
How to compare cable broadband
Cable broadband (also known as fibre optic broadband) is the fastest widely available broadband service in the UK. It’s true that you can do a lot more with fibre broadband, but how do you pick the right package? Our cable compare page makes it easy. We list all the cable broadband packages and providers in order of price, starting with the cheapest.
Before purchasing a broadband deal, make sure you check the detail. Price should be your first concern. Look at the monthly fee, the cost of line rental, and the installation fees. Download and upload speed should be another concern.
Faster may be better, but it’s not always cheaper. Contract length (located under the monthly cost) lets you know how long you’ll be tied in before you’re able to cancel. Finally, check the usage limit. An unlimited package might be best if you’ll be downloading large amounts of data on a regular basis.
Why choose cable broadband?
Cable broadband is much faster than the slower, copper-cabled standard broadband. It can make downloads and uploads faster, and generally improves your online experience.
Download films, music, and data at high speed
From music streaming to film and videogame downloads, everything is faster with cable broadband. For large families, or for those who just love to stay online, cable broadband can make a huge difference, especially with the higher speeds, which can now reach up to 516Mbps. If you’re unsure what speed you need for your favourite streaming services, have a look at our broadband speeds required for streaming services guide.
Bolster your social networking
Social media users who regularly upload photographs and videos online will be able to do everything faster with cable broadband. Most standard broadband packages have an optimum upload speed of 1Mbps. The top cable upload speed of 19.5Mbps will enable you to upload files in a fraction of the time.
H3 Working from home
If you’re working from home you might have experienced a frozen colleague or two on Zoom calls. Sending and receiving large files becomes more difficult with slower speeds, so cable broadband will improve your efficiency. For more tips on working from home and ways to improve your home office, have a look at our working from home guide.
Pros & cons
- High download speeds
- Numerous ‘unlimited’ options
- High upload rates
- Can be an expensive option
- Availability is restricted
- Installation fees can be high
Which package is right for me?
An excess of choice can be both a good and bad thing, and with cable broadband, there’s a lot to choose from. To help whittle down the options, here are three suggestions.
Frequent users should pick an unlimited package
Unlimited cable broadband plans may appear to be more expensive than those with usage caps, but the opposite is often true. Plans with caps often charge you when you go over the set limit. If you don’t keep your eye on the ball, these excess charges can soon build up, resulting in a big monthly bill. If you know that you’ll be using the web a lot you can avoid this by selecting an unlimited plan.
Big households should pick faster packages
Download speeds don’t just refer to how quickly you can download data. They also refer to bandwidth – the amount of data you can simultaneously download on your line. Big households will have more internet users. This means that more people will be using the one connection. Even on a 36Mbps package, you may find your broadband performance slowing down during times of peak usage. To avoid this, pick a faster package.
Look for options to bundle services
Some cable broadband providers also supply TV and phone services. If you take all these services from the same provider – known as bundling – you can reduce your monthly payments. This can also be a great way to solve all your household’s entertainment needs in one fell swoop.
What will I need?
There are a couple of things you’ll need to start enjoying cable broadband. It’s not enough to simply sign up. If you’re wondering why you can’t get online straight away, here are the answers.
To wait for installation
Installation won’t be immediate; you’ll generally have to wait around ten working days. For cable broadband, an engineer will need to come out to hook your property up to the nearest telecoms cabinet. These are the squat green cabinets you often see in the street. You’ll have to be present at your property on the day of installation. For more details about specific provider’s broadband installation times, read our guide.
A broadband router
Most cable broadband providers supply a router with their broadband packages. These are usually free, and will arrive by post before your installation date. Often, the router will be packaged in such a way that it can easily fit through your letterbox. This means you don’t have to wait in for it to arrive.
How do I switch?
Choosing a cable broadband plan is easy once you’ve checked the detail. Simply navigate to the right of the deal and click on the ‘see deal’ button. This will take you to the provider’s website. You can complete the sign-up process here, quickly and easily.
Switching from another provider
Unless you are switching to or from Virgin Media (which runs on its own network) there is no need to call your existing provider to cancel – your new provider will arrange this. Be certain that you’re not still within contract with your previous provider when you cancel. If this is the case, you may incur significant termination fees.