Can I get fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband

Broadband was created to offer fast internet connections - but not all fibre broadband is created equal.

As such there are a few different options to consider which mean variations on speed. Now that might sound unnecessary - you simply want all the speed, right? But in reality there are differences. Some broadband is available in certain areas and not others. Also, some is expensive while other types are more affordable. So where do you start to find which is the best fibre broadband for you? 

 What is fibre broadband? 

Essentially this is the internet delivered over fibre optic cables instead of the copper cabling that other broadband uses. Because these use light to transmit data they have very few limits to bandwidth and essentially go up to the speed of light. Copper broadband is limited by the physical cables so you'll never get above a certain speed.

In real world terms a fibre connection means speeds of up to 1Gb which is like downloading a Blu-ray movie in under a minute. Of course this is a very specific type of fibre, just being rolled out by BT and a few others to selected homes, and this speed requires cabling to the home. More common and more affordable variations will start at around 35Mb and then top out at speeds of nearer to the 300Mb mark - the equivalent to 37.5MB per seond - so still plenty fast then!

 How available is fibre broadband? 

The main problem (other than the price) is that fibre optic cable needs to be run to your house, or close to it at least. For fibre to premises broadband (the really fast one) you'll need to have the cable available in your area for a direct connection to your home. For fibre to cabinet (not as fast, but still quick) you'll need to have a cabinet distributor box nearby that can then have a cable run to your home. The former is faster but more rare.

Latest figures suggest that over 90% of homes now have access to regular fibre broadband, with the remaining 10 percent being those in more rural areas. 

While cities and more populated areas are better connected, rural areas suffer from less connectivity. This is simply because the cabling infrastructure hasn't reached everywhere yet.

Who are the main fibre broadband providers?

Right now the largest fibre broadband providers are Virgin Media and BT Superfast, the former of which offers speeds in excess of 300Mb. For those that either don't want to pay the price of these, or don't have access to them, there are a few cheaper alternatives like TalkTalk and Vodafone. Pretty much every internet provider offers fibre these days.

Gigaclear specialises in harder to reach rural areas so is a good bet if you're outside of a city. This isn't cheap but will get you super speeds of up to 900Mb. And then there's the likes of Hyperoptic, which continues to roll out its superfast fibre network now with a 1Gb. It's affordable, too, but is available in fewer than 1% of UK homes at the time of writing.

What are the best fibre deals for me? 

As we say, there plenty of options to pick from. Apart from price, your location and speed are big factors in your decision. Thankfully we've lined up everything you need in one place. Head over to our best fibre broadband deals guide to find the perfect fibre broadband for you right now. Alternatively, simply cast your eyes downwards at our custom-made price comparison for today's very best fibre prices.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.