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What’s fibre broadband? Can I get it?

The internet has come to the rescue of numerous households, with binge-watching now popular among all Americans, Zoom or Teams calls our Friday nights out, and online gaming a genuine method of staying in touch with friends.

When the web is considered our superhero, then broadband will be the horse it rides on. There are a lot of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the UK and they all offer a myriad of deals for the average consumer.

The days of hogging the phone line and dialling up your internet connection to see an in-depth menu of the restaurant you love is a thing of the past. The traditional dial-up internet connection has been replaced with faster, always-connected broadband that is capable of utilizing a larger (or greater) bandwidth, leaves your phone line open to calls, and makes your internet access much more convenient.

Once you get over the jargon that’s being thrown your at, it’s a straightforward market to understand and take control of, to ensure you get the greatest digital value.

What’s broadband all about?

There are two kinds of broadband available: fibre and standard. Standard makes use of ADSL technology to connect to the country’s existing copper phone network, meaning that it’s available in the majority parts of UK. What you receive for this availability is a reduction in speeds, including when downloading.

The typical download speeds for broadband vary from 10 to 11 megabits per second (Mbps) that translates to just a few minutes of downloading your favourite TV show, compared to some fibre options handling the same task in a matter of seconds. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it could result in issues with video calls or sending large email files as well as online gaming particularly if several people are online at the same time.

What’s fibre broadband? Can I get it?

Fibre broadband refers to better-performing fibre optic cables internet service providers utilize to connect to the internet and send data. This makes it possible to speed up data transfer that means that your internet is faster when it comes to uploading or downloading. Additionally, it gives you a more reliable service as copper is more susceptible to degradation over fibre-optic cables.

Not all in the UK is covered by fibre, although efforts are in the process of being made to connect all of the country. At present, 97 percent of households should be able to avail a speed of 24 Mbps in the 80-90 percent range, with around 80-90 per cent of the UK served by BT fibre, as well as 60 percent via Virgin Media’s fibre-only network. It’s easy to check by typing in your postcode onto any of the ISP’s websites.

Unfortunately, the UK remains one of the lowest average speeds for internet in the developed world, coming in at 44th in the year before, but many users won’t notice the difference – it’s mostly national pride that takes a hit.

Do you require a phone line for fibre broadband?

The need for a landline is not a requirement for broadband. In fact there are some ISPs offer free landline services in the event that you’ve made the permanent switch to mobile phones. This isn’t a common practice, since most ISPs make use of Copper wire at some point to supply broadband services: many fibre deals actually use fibre optic to connect the nearest Internet Exchange (a series of physical sites through which the internet’s data flows) in your area to your home, before passing through the phone line to get to your home. It means that the providers have to pay the owners of the copper network – BT Openreach – to give you their package.

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Virgin Media is the only big UK ISP that has its own broadband network that is distinct from Openreach, and so can provide customers with broadband that is landline-free. However, a lack of landline does not necessarily mean less expensive therefore it’s important to shop in both marketplaces, even if don’t have a home phone and it may be better price to purchase one anyway.

What is the best broadband speed?

Speed is essential: it could mean the difference between a relaxing film night with your partner as well as the cost of a replacement screen after you kick a shoe in frustration at Leonardo’s frozen face, which is buffering.

The concept is quite simple The more people in your household connecting to your internet, the greater stress this puts on your internet speed. If the entire household is connected at the same time (and lets face it, over the last year there has been no one who didn’t? ) delay and connection issues could get even worse.

However, simply choosing the fastest broadband doesn’t necessarily mean you get the best deal, as many people don’t require top-of-the-line speeds, especially couples or households with two people. You’ll pay more than the chances for what you need.

Most users will find that download speed is the more important factor, because it is how your connection deals with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Spotify and YouTube. Most video streaming services now provide high-definition streaming. This can take a greater burden on download speeds like online gaming as well, which put the strain on your upload capabilities.

A majority of homes won’t require ultrafast (above 30Mbps) or ultrafast (above 100Mbps) internet, and will be able to work, stream and utilize social media at 10-15Mbps, however, if there are a lot of internet users at home in the house, all wanting to stream the same HD streams or play high frame-rate games, then it’s wise to get upgrading to a faster broadband service.

Another point to consider When broadband deals state”average speed” for each offer, they do not specify the “average rate” for each offer, ISPs only need to offer this to 50% of customers during peak hours to justify the claim. Speeds will vary depending on the amount of customers in your region, how far you are from the exchange , and the state of your cables and may be less than advertised. Most providers will let you know the probable speed of your internet after you have started the process of signing up.

Does broadband mean the same as wifi?

They definitely go well together however, broadband is not a synonym for wifi. Broadband is the technology that connects internet data into your home through a cable. If this cable is cut off being used, the majority of home setups employ a wireless router to distribute the information around the home via WiFi. To get the full broadband you paid for the package, you must connect to the router directly by using an ethernet cable. Only then can you access the maximum speed the package offers. Wireless is a means of connecting your devices with no necessity of a cable. It relies on radio waves which are interrupted easily by distance or by a especially thick wall, which means that average speeds may be affected a bit.

It is important to ensure that there is enough room between you devices and router – make sure you don’t put it in a wardrobe or behind a bookcase for instance. If you’re still experiencing issues with your WiFi connection, whether it’s providing weak signal or dropping between the two, it could be that your router is old or is broken. call your ISP for advice.

UK broadband providers

There are four main companies within UK broadband. BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk enjoy the largest customer bases. BT is the most popular with around 9.3 million subscribers, however all the others have millions in contracts to themselves.

As previously mentioned, BT’s fiber network is the biggest, which covers 80-90 percent of the UK covered. Next is Virgin Media and its independent fibre network that covers 60 per cent. There are other ISPs with smaller networks, however they have excellent customer service. Vodafone has entered the market in the last few years, and provides basic broadband plans for a reasonable price without the glitter and glamour that you usually get from the big four. A currently available Vodafone deal in our area provides their customers an average of 63 Mbps, with no setup costs.

Companies like A&A, iDNET and Kcom offer a range of advantages like superior technical knowledge and support or exceptionally fast speeds for reasonable prices, but these smaller providers are more limited in their coverage across the country.

They vary and typically come in 12-, 18- or 24-month contracts, or even longer depending upon the amount you’d like to pay monthly. Cheap contracts may look appealing, but could trap you in a contract that will become outdated So, take your final cost into consideration before you rush into a cheap contract but lasts five years with no chance of an upgrade.

What should I do if I wish to end my broadband service?

It’s possible, but beware of high early exit fees. If you’re happy with the service your provider has, erm and if you’re not satisfied, a contact with them is your best option, describing your issues. In most cases you’ll be in danger of losing your custom is more than enough to convince an ISP to offer better terms, be that faster speeds or a cheaper monthly deal.

Always make sure you fight for the best price offer. Many customers who are confused by the internet landscape and the various kinds of deals, are happy to sit on their current contracts, not realizing that the price per month following your initial contract is now up by a staggering amount as new customers get the best deals from their ISP. Be looking for better deals, either elsewhere or with your current ISP as well as taking an account of any possible “loyalty penalty” that you’re paying by staying with your current provider. In the end, when you’re dealing with contracts, loyalty is an ongoing process.

The verdict Broadband contracts

A benefit that broadband enjoyed when competing with fibre was cost. However, with fibre becoming more accessible throughout the nation and efficiency increasing all the time the price difference between the two is becoming less and less significant.

Broadband is certainly big business. In 2022, 92 per cent of UK adult internet users. And that has certainly increased in the past few years. It is important for broadband providers to provide the best prices they can. However, sometimes this isn’t the case, particularly for customers who are long-term subscribers. Your options may be limited by the range of network coverage offered by different providers, however there are great-value deals out there. Make sure you be patient and shop for a while before you make a decision.