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Can I get fibre optic broadband in my area?

Thursday, May 21st 2015

Fibre broadband is faster than standard broadband connections, providing speeds from 38Mbps to 152Mbps. It’s not as widely available as standard broadband, but you may be able to get it where you are.

Fibre optic broadband checker

To check your area and find out if you can get fibre optic broadband, type your postcode into our checker below or see our fibre optic broadband comparison page.

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Fibre optic broadband comparison

If our postcode checker says that you can get fibre optic broadband, we will show you a list of the packages on offer from the fibre optic broadband providers operating in your area. You can then compare the different speeds, download limits and costs of each package so you can choose the right fibre optic broadband package.

Getting fibre optic broadband installed

Once you’ve signed up for a fibre optic broadband package your provider will send an engineer to install it for you.

An engineer will perform the installation

Around 80% of UK homes now have access to a pre-existing fibre optic broadband connection. However, in some cases, as a physical connection must be made between your home and the fibre optic network, an engineer might need to run a cable from the road to your home. If you have your own home this will not be a problem. If you rent a property however, or if you live in an apartment block, you will of course need the permission of the owner before you can allow any digging to take place. If you’re unsure, you should discuss this with your landlord and your preferred fibre optic broadband provider.

Your home may need a dedicated connection point

Once the physical connection is made to the outside of your property, the engineer will then need to connect the master phone point (and TV points, if a digital TV cable subscription is included with your fibre optic broadband package) to your new fibre optic cable, or they will install a new dedicated connection point.

Most of the time, equipment is supplied free

Your broadband provider will supply all the equipment needed to connect your home, including the wireless router, and the engineer will install everything and test it, and answer any questions you may have, before he leaves.

Fibre is the fastest broadband available

There are many benefits to fibre optic broadband. Most notably fibre optic broadband is much faster than any other broadband package that you may have used before, meaning little or no waiting time for things to happen online.

Fibre broadband gives you faster downloads

Download speeds can be up to 10 times faster than the best standard broadband, with some packages offering up to 152Mbps. At speeds like this you can download entire MP3 albums from sites like iTunes in a matter of seconds, stream services such as the BBC iPlayer with no annoying interruptions and download high definition movies in a matter of minutes.

Upload speeds are quicker too

Upload speeds are also much higher, with some services offering uploads at up to 19Mbps. This means you’ll be able to upload photos and videos, even HD, in a fraction of the time you may be used to.

Prices are becoming comparable to standard broadband

Currently a subscription to a fibre optic broadband will cost more than a standard broadband package, but prices are falling as competition increases in the fibre optic broadband market. As it stands, for most people, the slightly higher price of fibre optic broadband is easily outweighed by the benefits it brings.

When will fibre optic broadband be available in my area?

Unless you’re super-rural, it’s coming soon... probably

Fibre optic broadband is available to more than two thirds of the UK. As you’ve come to this page, we’re assuming you’re in the final third of this equation and are still awaiting its arrival. The good news is it’s probably on the way.

Fibre optic is available from two networks

That’s not entirely true, but BT Openreach and Virgin Media have the widest fibre optic network in the UK, and when it comes to your area it will most likely be with one of those two.

The majority of broadband providers use BT Openreach’s network

Just because BT owns and operates the fibre optic network doesn’t mean only BT use it. It rents the line out to other providers, which offer their own fibre optic deals and packages.

Virgin Media operates its own network

Virgin Media has its own fibre optic network and is the only provider that uses it, selfish right. At the moment, Virgin Media covers around 44% of UK homes and is extending its network all the time.

Finding out when BT Openreach is coming to your area

Visit BT Openreach’s website

BT Openreach has a page dedicated to informing prospective customers if and when their area has been earmarked for fibre optic. From here you can find out if you’re in a planned area, if your area is under review or, happy days, if you’re in an enabled area and just waiting for the street cabinet to be switched on.

Talk to your current provider

Some areas already have access to fibre optic broadband, but it might not yet be available from your current provider. Get in touch to find out what its plans are. If it hasn’t got any, it might be time to switch provider.

Finding out when Virgin Media is coming to your area

Give them a call

Finding out when Virgin Media is on its way is not as simple. Virgin announced plans extend its network to include 4 million additional premises by 2020. Other than getting in touch with Virgin and asking what the plans for your postcode are, there’s not much more you can do other than register your interest, cross you fingers and hope for the best.

Who’s got the best fibre network – BT or Virgin Media?

BT has better coverage

The best fibre broadband network provider is the one that you can get fibre optic broadband from. Unless you can get both, in which case, Virgin is faster.

But, BT’s network is more widespread, so you’ve got a better chance of getting a fibre optic connection from it than from Virgin. If you’re faced with the option of getting fibre optic from BT or not getting fibre at all – well, I’m sure you know the answer to that.

Two speeds are available on BT Openreach, three on Virgin Media

You can choose between 38Mb and 76Mb fibre optic broadband speeds. While it’s not a patch on Virgin’s top speeds (50Mb, 100Mb and 152Mb), 76Mb is fast enough to do pretty much anything you need to do online a couple of times over.

Similarly to standard broadband, fibre optic will still slow down the father you are from the cabinet, so you probably won’t get the speed that’s advertised. Even so, it will likely be a damn sight faster than a standard broadband connection.

If you can get BT Openreach, you have a wide choice of providers available to you

BT leases its line out to other providers, so you can choose which company you want to take your broadband from.

While all providers will charge you a fairly standard line rental charge, they vary in what they charge for their packages, what extras they offer and the quality of its customer services.

Virgin Media is faster

Virgin Media sells its fibre optic broadband in three speeds; 50Mb, 100Mb and 152Mb, so its two top speeds are faster than BT. Its top fibre optic speed is currently the fastest widely available in the country.

A broadband-only package

If you’re not interested in having a phone line, Virgin offers broadband-only deals. These are available on all three speeds, on a 12-month contract and without line rental.

What can I do to get fibre quicker?

Register your interest with Virgin Media

Virgin Media has a page where you can register your interest called ‘Cable my Street’. Here you can fill in some details, including your address and what services you’re interested in, and Virgin will use this information to determine the best places to extend the network to.

If you’re in a community with some desire for Virgin Media, getting your neighbours to register interest also will strengthen your case. Virgin will prioritise areas with the most interest, so making as much noise as possible is a great way to get its attention.

Talk to your local authority

The government aims to ensure 97% of the population can receive superfast broadband by 2017, and is investing over £1billion to improve infrastructure.

This is called the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, and there may be a group lobbying for this funding near you. You can find more information by contacting your local authority.

Our advice is: Get the fastest deal you can while you’re waiting

Then as soon as fibre’s available, upgrade

Most internet providers offer both standard broadband and fibre optic broadband. You can upgrade your connection to fibre optic as soon as it becomes available, but for the time being you should look for the provider that offers the fastest standard broadband speed for your household.

Most providers will ask for your postcode and give you an estimate of the speed you can expect. Make sure you shop around before deciding on one. You can use our broadband comparison page to find a suitable package that’s available in your area.

Alternatives

If you can’t get fibre broadband, you should still be able to get online using a standard broadband connection instead. The good news is that there are plenty of broadband packages that are available to over 90% of UK homes, so if fibre isn’t an option for you, why not find out exactly what you can get in your area using our Ofcom-approved broadband comparison listing.

And don’t forget, Cable.co.uk now produces in-depth broadband reviews of every major UK broadband package, so check them out if you need more information.

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