What is Superfast, Ultrafast and Gigabit broadband?
These are the terms used to describe the download speed you can get.
- The UK government defines Superfast Broadband as having a download speed of at least 24Mbps (megabits per second), with no upper limit. The communications regulator, Ofcom, defines Superfast Broadband as 30Mbps.
- Typically this is delivered using FTTC (see below)
- Download speeds of more than 100Mbps can be called Ultrafast Broadband.
- This can be delivered over certain types of FTTC, over the Cable network (Virgin Media) and using FTTP.
- Gigabit-capable broadband is a connection that is able to deliver speeds of 1000Mbps or more (1Gbps).
- Gigabit capable connections are usually FTTP but some parts of the cable network (Virgin Media) are also able to support gigabit connections.
- Users can buy different speeds ranging from 30Mbps to 900Mbps depending on the service offered by the Internet Service Provider.
You should choose an internet package that suits your needs and budget.
The advantages of faster broadband
The higher your broadband speeds are, the better experience you’ll have while doing things like working from home, streaming TV and films, or banking and shopping online. A higher broadband speed also means that more people can be connected to the internet at any one time without the speed being affected. This means there can be one person streaming a film, another gaming and another working online at once.
Different ways broadband is delivered
Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) involves running fibre optic cables from a telephone exchange or distribution point to cabinets on the street, before connecting to a standard copper phone line to provide broadband.
The part-fibre, part-copper solution is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.
The advantage of this system is that it can provide superfast speeds, is generally quite widespread in the UK and cheaper than FTTP (see below). However, the further a property is away from a cabinet, the slower the internet speeds will be.
Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) involves the fibre optic cable running directly from the telephone exchange straight into a property. It is also known as ‘Full-fibre’. It is a 100% fibre connection with no copper wires, which means it’s extremely fast and reliable.
Fibre to premises is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 1000Mbps / 1Gbps. As well as being capable of such high speeds, the other advantage of this system is that the service is provided directly into a property so it is not dependent on being close to a cabinet. The disadvantage is that it can be expensive to deliver.
Virgin Media use DOCSIS® 3 technology and a thicker insulated cable that runs from the cabinet to your home and retains the speed regardless of the distance.
This means you can get the fast downstream speeds no matter how far you are from the street cabinet. Virgin Media is also deploying FTTP Broadband in some areas.