Dan Howdle | March 25th, 2024

BT Fibre: Essential, Fibre 1, 2 and Full Fibre (FTTP)

BT offers seven speeds of fibre broadband to UK customers, split between a perhaps less than ideal four different delivery technologies. Those technologies won't mean a lot to the average customer, but they do outline something important about the state of BT Broadband as it currently stands: We're in a transitional phase.

BT

The oldest of these technologies is ADSL – that's your old-fashioned copper phone wire connected to a copper-wired telephone exchange. The same 'tech' from a network point of view that we're had since the early 20th century telephone network, albeit carrying a broadband signal. BT calls this tier simply 'Broadband'. And that's the last you'll hear about it in this guide since BT has stopped supplying it bar households where it's all you can get.

Next up the chain is FTTC, or what is generally referred to as 'fibre' or 'superfast'. FTTC stands for 'fibre to the cabinet', which describes a network that is fibre optic as far as the cabinet in your street, then copper from the cabinet to your home. Copper has a speed limit, which gets lower the further the copper wiring has to go. This is why FTTC tends to have a maximum speed averaging around 65Mbps. BT refers to its FTTC packages as 'Fibre Essential' and 'Fibre 2'.

Package Download Upload Technology
Fibre Essential 36Mbps 9.5Mbps FTTC
Fibre 1 50Mbps 9.5Mbps G.Fast
Fibre 2 67Mbps 19Mbps FTTC
Full Fibre 100 150Mbps 28Mbps FTTP
Full Fibre 500 500Mbps 73Mbps FTTP
Full Fibre 900 900Mbps 110Mbps FTTP

The odd one out in this line-up is BT's 'Fibre 1' package, which offers an average speed of 50Mbps. Fibre 1 uses another technology called G.Fast. G.Fast is FTTC, but exclusively for people who live within a hundred metres or so of their nearest cabinet, and it allows your part-copper connection to run faster.

Finally, there's FTTP, or fibre to the premises. As its name suggests, it's fibre optic from your home to the main Openreach network, meaning the potential speed of the line is enormous. In fact, the potential speed of a full fibre line is many times greater than any provider is currently offering, mainly because no one really needs it, but also the faster you go the more computing power you need in your router and other networking equipment to run it. It gets expensive, for both user and provider. BT refers to its FTTC packages as 'Full Fibre', offering speeds up to 900Mbps.

BT Fibre packages

Here's an overview of the complete range of BT Fibre packages now that you understand the key differences:

Fibre Essential Fibre 1 Fibre 2 Full Fibre 100 Full Fibre 500 Full Fibre 900
Contract length 24 months 24 months 24 months 24 months 24 months 24 months
Router BT Smart Hub 2 BT Smart Hub 2 BT Smart Hub 2 BT Smart Hub 2 BT Smart Hub 2 BT Smart Hub 2
Price £33.99 per month £34.99 per month £36.99 per month £29.99 per month £49.99 per month £44.99 per month

Broadband near you

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Which speed is right for you?

Ultimately, which speed tier you opt for will depend first and foremost on where you live. Because what's available will differ from one place to the next. So, first of all, before deciding on a package, we recommend you take a look at what you can actually get using our BT Broadband postcode checker.

That done, we can take a look at what speeds are best suited to what sort of households:

Fibre Essential – This is the brand’s basic fibre broadband package. With an average speed of 36Mbps, it’s comparable to most other providers’ entry-level fibre packages. BT Fibre Essential provides adequate internet service for single people, couples, and smaller households where internet use is not heavy. The average upload speed of 9Mbps is also adequate for most smaller households.

Fibre 1 – BT’s mid-range Fibre 1 package offers average speeds of 50Mbps, which makes it a better choice for average-sized households with four or more internet users. With the same 9Mbps download speed as BT Fibre Essential, there isn’t a world of difference between the two packages in terms of both speed and price.

Fibre 2 – Though BT does offer faster packages in limited parts of the country with its Full Fibre packages, BT’s Fibre 2 package represents the fastest speed that most of us can expect to get from FTTC fibre. With download speeds averaging 67Mbps, and an upload speed of 18Mbps, it’s fast enough for most average households, but if there are gamers in the house, we recommend going faster if you can..

Full Fibre 100 – Unlike the name suggests, Full Fibre 100 offers 150Mbps. This is fast enough for everyone, and marks the point where the only perceivable benefit to go faster at this point in time is if you download and update a lot of videogames, where the faster you go, the less time you'll be kept waiting.

Full Fibre 500 – This is very fast broadband, and recommended for households with gamers, or anyone who uses their broadband connection for very large downloads.

Full Fibre 900 – Is too fast for most households, and the best, and perhaps only reason to have broadband this fast is because you can. Large videogame and other large-file downloads will complete in record time.

BT Fibre upload speeds

Most consumers receive more data than they send, so upload speed isn’t something they need to worry about. But for users who perform a lot of upload-heavy tasks, including cloud computing, file sharing, and certain types of online gaming, the difference between the various packages can be significant, and something you should consider if you know you're going to need it.

Other features to consider

Beyond speeds and routers, there are other features you may want to take into consideration when determining which BT Broadband package is the right one for you, because not all of these extras and add-ons are available on every BT Broadband package. They are:

  • Complete Wi-Fi guarantee – BT promises you'll get good quality wifi in every room in your home. It achieves this by adding up to three mesh devices. These are essentially wifi extenders. BT refers to these simply as 'discs'. With the guarantee, if you're not able to get good wifi reception in every room even after deployment of the discs, BT will compensate you with £100 bill credit. Note that this guarantee is not available with ADSL (10Mbps) packages
  • BT Halo – Is an add-on available on any BT Full Fibre package at extra cost. BT will supply you with a 'Mini Hub' in addition to your main router and additional discs if you have them. It uses mobile network connectivity to step in if your main broadband connection goes down for any reason. There are myriad other benefits including double data to BT Mobile customers, as well as terms and conditions as long as War & Peace. If you're interested in BT Halo we recommend reading about it in full on BT's website
  • Stay Fast Guarantee – Confused? Yes, we sympathise. This is separate from the Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee. BT will give you a speed you should be getting when you sign up. You can use the MyBT app to check your speed, and if it's below the speed promised you can report it to BT. If after 30 days you're still slower than you should be, BT will give you a £20 Reward Card. This can happen up to four times per year
  • Double data on your BT Mobile account – If you're getting your mobile service from BT Mobile or EE Mobile, you will get double the amount of data than if you're not a BT Broadband customer. This can only apply to one mobile in your household though, and it has to belong to the person whose name is on the BT Broadband bill

To find out if you can get BT Full Fibre, see our full fibre comparison page.

Frequently asked questions

Does BT Fibre come with different routers?

All new fibre connections are supplied with a Smart Hub 2 router, whether you’re opting for Fibre 2’s superfast speeds or settling for the Essentials plan. The Smart Hub 2 router is compatible with BT’s Hybrid Connect service, which will supply your household devices with data from EE’s mobile network, if your broadband service is interrupted. The only exception is BT's ageing ADSL service called just 'BT Broadband', which comes with the Home Hub 5.

If I get BT Fibre Essential or BT Fibre 1, can I upgrade easily?

Yes. It's incredibly easy to upgrade your BT Fibre package. You can do it online or over the phone as soon as you're up and running with your services. Just remember that your download speed gains are likely to be small, unless you are upgrading to Full Fibre. Customers who subscribe to Fibre 2 can upgrade to Full Fibre 100 for free, when it arrives in their area, with BT’s Full Fibre promise, or get something even faster.

Do I get any form of parental controls with BT Fibre packages?

Yes. BT offers a full suite of parental controls that enable you to manage the content to which your children have access, and at what times of the day.

What do I get with BT Fibre that I won't get from other providers?

Primarily, the most notable difference is that as a BT Fibre customer you'll be able to access more than five million wifi hotspots around the UK for free. Set it up once on your phone, tablet or laptop, and it will automatically tune into one of these signals where available rather than chewing through your available mobile data. Very handy, and you won't find this with any other provider.

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