Broadband terminology guide ADSL | Cable | G.Fast | FTTC & FTTP
A lot of the terminology that internet service providers (ISPs) use can be somewhat confusing to customers. For example, you may be looking for a faster broadband connection and be told that you can get fibre broadband. However, a standard fibre broadband connection will still utilise your old copper phone line to complete the last part of the connection from your local exchange to your home. So, it’s not hard to see why some customers get confused when they hear that they can upgrade their fibre broadband to a ‘Full Fibre’ connection.
ADSL Broadband connection (Standard Broadband)
ADSL Broadband (also referred to as ‘Standard Broadband’) is when the broadband connection is delivered using the original, old copper phone wire infrastructure. This method is being phased out as ISP’s push to sell faster broadband. With a standard ADSL broadband connection, you can expect to get an average download speed of 10Mbps. The connection speed will drop significantly the further away you are from the telephone exchange. Whilst ADSL broadband might be the slowest option, it’s not necessarily cheaper than ‘fibre broadband’. If you’re out of contract and have an ADSL broadband connection, you’re likely to be paying more than you would with a new provider. The broadband market is very competitive, so it’s worth asking your current provider to see if you can get a better deal, then compare that offer with our broadband checker.
FTTC Broadband connection (Superfast)
Most home broadband connections in the UK are fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). FTTC Broadband is when the local (street cabinet) has had its incoming connection upgraded to fibre broadband. This means that the local telephone exchange is able to deliver a faster broadband connection to your home. The connection from your home to the local (street cabinet) will still be sent down the old copper phone line, but your broadband speed will be significantly faster than a standard ADSL broadband connection. A typical FTTC broadband connection in the UK would have an average download speed of 66Mbps.
FTTP Broadband connection (Ultrafast)
Currently only a small number of homes have access to ‘Full Fibre Broadband’ also known as fibre to the premises (FTTP). As it implies, the fibre broadband connection does not stop at the local street cabinet, it continues directly to your premises. This means that you no longer need to rely on your old copper telephone cable to get broadband. It’s still relatively expensive to install as it requires new cables being installed to your property. A typical average FTTP download speed is between 330Mbps to 1Gbps and is the future of broadband in the UK.
G.Fast Broadband connection (Ultrafast)
G.Fast is one of the latest ultrafast broadband technologies that is capable of supercharging your FTTC broadband speed up to 300Mbps without the need to have fibre to your premises. As G.Fast uses most of the existing infrastructure, it’s cheaper and faster to roll out - but it’s not all good news. The catch is that your premises needs to be within 500 metres of your local street cabinet. We’re not convinced of the future of G.Fast. It’s a clever interim solution until we see the same fibre coverage that copper cables have today. Consider it akin to the mini disk player when Apple are about to launch the iPod. G.Fast is only available if your local exchange has been upgraded to accommodate the G.Fast technology.
Cable broadband is uniquely different to fibre broadband. Instead of using a fibre cable it’s delivered down a coaxial cable. Currently Virgin Media dominate this market with their own cable network. Cable broadband is capable of achieving a download speed of 500Mbps.
Alternative broadband options
There are alternative ways to get a faster broadband connection e.g. by installing satellite broadband, microwave radio transmission or the more familiar 4G broadband. But, as fibre broadband now covers 95% of the UK, you can probably get a fast broadband connection installed via one of the many UK ISPs. Just enter your postcode into our broadband availability checker to find the best broadband deals available in your area.
Frequently Asked Questions