Can I get fibre optic broadband in my area?
Fibre broadband is faster than standard broadband, offering download speeds from 38Mbps to 200Mbps. It’s not yet as widely available as standard broadband, but coverage is increasing all the time so you stand a good chance of being able to get it.
Fibre optic broadband checker
The best way to check which fibre optic broadband providers and deals are available to you where you live is to use a postcode fibre broadband availability checker. Enter your postcode and we will return a complete list of every fibre broadband deal currently available at your address.
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, 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, or if you live in an apartment block, you will need the permission of the owner before you can permit 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 200Mbps. 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 have as many devices connected as once as you wish.
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?
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 largely available from two networks
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.
Most broadband providers use BT Openreach’s network
Just because BT owns and operates the Openreach fibre optic network doesn’t mean that only BT uses it. It rents the line out to many 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. At the moment, Virgin Media covers around 44% of UK homes and is extending its network all the time.
Find out when BT Openreach is coming to your area
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.
Find out when Virgin Media is coming to your area
Finding out when Virgin Media is on its way is not as simple. Virgin announced plans to extend its network to include four 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.
Which internet service provider has the best network?
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 have the choice of either, then Virgin’s network offers faster speeds.
Two speeds are available on BT Openreach, three on Virgin Media
You can choose between 38Mb and 76Mb fibre optic broadband speeds with Openreach-based providers, plus an exclusive 52Mbps speed with BT Infinity broadband. While the majority of Openreach connections don't compete with Virgin’s top speeds (50Mb, 100Mb and 200Mb), 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 top advertised speed. 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 from almost any provider, other than Virgin Media.
While all ISPs will charge you a fairly standard line rental charge as part of your broadband fee, they vary in what they charge for their packages, the extras they offer and the quality of customer service.
Virgin Media is faster than Openreach
Virgin Media sells its fibre optic broadband in three speeds; 50Mb, 100Mb and 200Mb, so its two top speeds are faster than those of BT. Its top fibre optic speed is currently the fastest widely available in the country.
Virgin Media offers broadband-only
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 sooner?
There are a few useful things you can do that might help speed things along, although in reality, getting fibre is something of a waiting game.
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 the services in which you are interested. Virgin will use this information to determine to where it will next extend its network.
If you’re in a community with some desire for Virgin Media, getting your neighbours to register interest will also 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 £1 billion 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.
If you can’t get fibre broadband, you should still be able to get online using a standard broadband connection instead. There are plenty of broadband packages available to over 90% of UK homes, so if fibre isn’t an option for you, you can find out exactly what you can get in your area using our Ofcom-approved broadband comparison listing.