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Can I get BT Superfast Fibre broadband?

By Aaron Howdle
Wednesday, April 25th 2018

Previously known as BT Infinity, BT's fibre service is available to most households and businesses in the UK, but by no means all of them. You'll need to use a broadband postcode checker to be certain. We've got you covered.

Check BT Superfast Fibre availability

You can quickly find out whether you can get BT fibre by putting your postcode into the box below. We can then show you a list of deals available where you live.

Check BT Superfast Fibre coverage

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BT Superfast Essential, Superfast Fibre 1 and 2, and BT Ultrafast availability

BT fibre is currently available to 95% of UK homes, meaning there is every chance you can get it. Along with almost all its competitors, BT provides its broadband services over the Openreach network. This means that if you know BT Superfast Fibre is available in your area, then you should also be able to get fibre from most other providers. However the opposite is also true in that if you can't get BT fibre, you won't be able to get fibre from another provider either. There is one alternative – Virgin Media – more on which follows below.

If you find yourself in the final 5% who are unable to get BT fibre (previously BT Infinity), there is a fair chance you live in a remote or rural location. If this is the case, it may be uneconomical to run fibre optic cables to your area. However, the government has said that the majority of the 1.3 million homes currently not served by fibre optic should get at least 10Mb broadband by 2020.

If you can’t get BT fibre, you may still be able to get fibre broadband from Virgin Media

We mentioned earlier that in most of the UK the only alternative to Openreach for fibre optic broadband is Virgin Media, which has its own cabling and infrastructure.

Virgin Media won't be an alternative for everyone who can't get BT fibre, since BT fibre is available to around 95% of homes, whereas Virgin Media reaches approximately 60% of UK homes. However there are some homes covered by Virgin Media which aren't covered by BT fibre, so it's definitely worth checking.

Virgin Media currently offers fibre broadband starting at 50Mbps, with a top-end package boasting 350Mbps (over four times faster than BT Infinity's top speed), plus 100Mbps and 200Mbps packages in between. So Virgin Media has plenty to offer if you can get it where you live. For more information, see our guide on Virgin Media availability.

What's the difference between BT broadband and BT fibre?

BT offer two types of broadband. The shiny, fast fibre optic variety of BT Superfast Fibre (previously known as BT Infinity) and the dusty old copper wires of standard ADSL – known simply as BT Broadband.

bt smart hub

Standard BT broadband (also known as ADSL or copper broadband)

Before the rollout of fibre optic, internet service providers needed a way to improve on the speed of dial-up internet. ADSL was developed as a method for delivering faster internet speeds over the copper wire telephone networks which already existed around the world.

ADSL was a decent interim solution but not without its problems. Resistance in the copper wires means the further you are from your nearest exchange, the slower your internet becomes. People living a couple of miles from their nearest green cabinet receive poor speeds. Connections can also be unreliable due to copper wire's susceptibility to electro-magnetic interference. Parts of the telephone network also use aluminium wire which causes problems for ADSL.

Despite using a mainly fibre optic broadband network, BT Superfast Fibre still uses some copper cables. The fibre optic cables run as far as your nearest green street cabinet, whereas the final stretch from cabinet to home is spanned by regular telephone cables. This final stretch is often referred to as the 'last mile'. However, there is nowhere near the same loss of speed overall as there is with a purely copper connection (in other words, a standard broadband service).

BT Superfast Fibre broadband (previously BT Infinity)

As mentioned above, BT Superfast Fibre arrives at your home through fibre optic cabling, then through the old copper phone lines over the 'last mile'.

BT Superfast is at least twice as fast as BT Broadband, BT's standard broadband offering. This extra speed will be most welcome for streaming Netflix or iPlayer content, especially when viewing in high definition (HD). Fibre broadband is also much better than standard at handling multiple devices all connected at once, which should really improve the online experience in busier households.

There are now four speeds available in BT's fibre optic line up. BT Superfast Essential offers unliited 36Mbps downloads, BT Superfast 1 has a download speed averaging 50Mbps, and BT Superfast 2 averages 67Mbps. All these speeds are in the Superfast broadband category, which refers to broadband faster than 30Mbps.

The fourth, and fastest fibre optic broadband from BT is its Ultrafast 100Mbps broadband. It's not as widely available as the other Superfast options yet, and we have to say the use of the word 'ultrafast' is a little confusing. 'Ultrafast' is a well-known term for broadband with speeds over 300Mbps. However, BT's Ultrafast offers only 100Mbps, not 300Mbps. In this case the name BT has chosen seems a little misleading.

Ultimately, the package you should choose comes down to how many people there are in your household, how much and how often they use the internet, and what type of things they do online. You can find a wealth of information to help you choose which speed is right for you further down this guide.

How does BT Superfast Fibre work?

As well as providing services like BT Superfast Fibre, BT also established the Openreach network which carries the broadband services of BT and the broadband deals offered by most of its competitors.

fibre-optic with lights

As mentioned earlier, the Openreach network reaches around 95% of UK homes on a backbone of fibre optic cables. Fibre optic cables currently run as far as the green metal exchange-cabinets you can see on street corners up and down the country. From the cabinet to your home the signal is carried over slower copper cables.

Since fibre optic cables have been around for a while now, you probably know that they are made of numerous thin strands of glass. These strands of glass carry broadband signals in the form of light, carried along the glass fibres, a bit like super-fast Morse Code (there's a bit more to it than that, but you get the idea). The main advantages of fibre optic are its ability to carry far more information than a copper telephone cable, much faster and with far less deterioration in the signal.

BT Superfast Fibre installation and activation time

Activation usually occurs on an agreed date around five days from sign-up. BT will send out the equipment you need, including a router and microfilters, which you plug into your phone line to split the broadband and telephone cables.

Installation time will depend on whether you need a visit from an engineer. The need or otherwise of a visit will depend on the quality of your existing telephone line. Unfortunately, BT won't be able to tell you if you need an engineer until you start the sign-up process. Visits normally take around an hour.

If no engineer is required, installation simply involves connecting your new BT Smart Hub to your telephone socket and plugging it in. The whole process should take no more than ten days – or less if no engineer is required.

When is BT Superfast Fibre coming to my area?

If you’re asking this question, you’ve no doubt entered your postcode at the top of this page only to find you can’t get BT fibre. When the postcode checker finds you can't get BT Superfast Fibre (previously BT Infinity), you should be redirected to a link where you can register your interest. This ought to be your first course of action, after which you will need to decide what to do next.

We recommend checking if Virgin Media is available in your area. As mentioned earlier, Virgin Media has its own national network, so it's possible you can get its fibre optic broadband service. In many respects Virgin Media's service outperforms BT's, particularly when it comes to broadband speeds, so it's definitely worth checking whether Virgin is available in your area.

Alternatively, if you are dead set on using BT, then sign up for BT's standard broadband service. This way you should have a quick and easy transition to BT fibre if and when it becomes available in your area.

Why do we need your postcode?

Once you enter your postcode, Cable.co.uk will perform a live lookup and check all the available providers in your area.

This ensures you receive accurate information on the availability of providers and packages in your area.

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