Fibre optic broadband – is it worth buying?

broadband

Upgrading your broadband? Then you’ll need to choose between a standard ADSL connection or super-fast fibre optic service.

Upgrading your broadband? Then you’ll need to choose between a standard ADSL phone line connection or super-fast fibre optic service. The difference in price between the two can be dramatic, but so are the download speeds you can achieve.

To make your buying decision that little bit easier, we compared the price of ADSL and fibre optic broadband from the UK’s six most popular internet service providers (ISPs). Read on to find out which is cheapest for fibre and whether you need it.

Best broadband providers – expert overview

Save up to £100 by switching fibre ISP

It’s no easy thing to compare prices on broadband services. Different contract lengths, short-term deals and hidden fees can all obscure the total cost of each contract. To give as fair a comparison as possible, we compared the cheapest ADSL and fibre optic deals from the six providers in the table above over the course of 18 months – line rental, router delivery and set-up costs are all accounted for.

The victor? TalkTalk’s SimplyBroadband and Fibre Medium broadband packages, both of which cost at least £50 less than the cheapest alternatives from Sky. Furthermore, if you sign up to Utility Warehouse’s fibre optic, instead of getting TalkTalk’s cheapest contract, you’ll pay almost £100 more over the course of 18 months.

TalkTalk’s fibre optic deal also offers unlimited downloads, and this is ideal if you want to take advantage of your added internet speed by watching a lot of BBC iPlayer or streaming plenty of music using Spotify.

That said, it’s not all good news for the cheapest provider. TalkTalk ranked 6th out of 10 providers in our bi-annual broadband satisfaction survey, with the company’s overall customer support scoring an average three-star rating. If you want to combine a TV package with your phone and broadband deal, it’s also worth looking at alternative providers such as Sky and Virgin Media.

Do I need fibre optic broadband?

This depends on how often you use your home internet and what you use it for. A fibre optic broadband contract costs roughly £200 more than ADSL over 18 months, so you want to be sure you’re going to get value for money.

Why is fibre so much more expensive? The connection speed offered is much, much faster. With ADSL you’ll receive a connection that’s roughly between 5.7 and 12.6 Mb. Virgin Media offers fibre optic broadband with a top download speed of 120Mb. Even if your home isn’t able to receive the absolute top speeds stated, you’ll notice a clear difference from ADSL connections – certainly enough to say goodbye to buffering on YouTube or iPlayer, for example.

That said, fibre is best avoided if your computer use is limited to general web browsing and a bit of Microsoft Office. But for regular Netflix users and those with a large family of internet fanatics, it’s an ideal purchase.

Would you get fibre optic broadband?

We asked our followers on Facebook whether they’d pay extra for super-fast fibre optic broadband. You can find the full spectrum of responses from fibre evangelists and ADSL puritans below.

 

 

Most commenters seemed happy to save some money and stick with with ADSL for the time being at least. Lesley Mayoh was representative of many people when she wrote, “No, my BB pretty good and fast enough for my needs already.” Gavin Waylock offered up a similarly thrifty opinion, “No I wouldn’t. I want to pay less for ordinary speed broadband.”

Interestingly, several fibre subscribers were receiving the service as part of a deal. “Haggled with Sky & got fibre at no extra cost,” wrote Simon Ruddy.

As Sally Murfitt pointed out, fibre optic broadband is often “not an option in rural areas”.

If you’re speaking to your broadband provider, you’d be well advised to check out our broadband haggling script. One caller saved themselves £228 a year using it.

More on this

How to get the best broadband deal – we explain
How to switch broadband provider – our expert guide
AOL voted worst for broadband… again – we explain why

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134 replies

  1. One thing to remember about all these providers is that, except for Virgin cable and Fixed Wireless Broadband operators, you are probably receiving your broadband through a BT line that you are paying a rental charge for.
    This line or fibre determines the broadband that you can get

    1. Chris Conder is quite right. We moved to BT Infinity “fibre optic” broadband to get better speeds. Disappointing, because although we are only about 600 metres from the exchange, the fibre cable only runs from the exchange to the DP that serves us. This distance is about 50 metres so the rest of the distance is copper twisted pair. We still get buffering. Our son and daughter-in-law get Virgin fibre right into their house so do get fibre optic broadband and no buffering.

    2. Thanks John, So how do we get the folk at Which to understand the difference between fibre broadband and copper broadband? They clearly don’t, and neither to most of the people commenting. I am glad you do!
      Also some virgin isn’t on fibre, even thought they call it ‘fibre broadband’, some of theirs is through coax cable, which is copper. Its faster than a phone line though. What a pickle when journalists repeat PR instead of getting the real story. I always though Which looked into things properly, but now it seems they don’t. If you are so close to the cabinet you should be able to improve those speeds if you nag your ISP. Are you sure you are on the cabinet and not a direct line from the exchange? Those on the exchanges are doomed to slower speeds than those near to the cabs. They only run the fibre out to the old cabs and put new ones next to them, they don’t run fibre to drop points from the exchange.

    3. Common cheap(er) fibre broadband is:-
      FTTC = Fibre To The Cabinet (from the exchange to the cabinet is fibre, from the cabinet to your house is still copper wire).

      The more expensive fibre broadband, where available (mainly big cities like London) is:-
      FTTP = Fibre To The Premises (fibre fomr the exchange to your house, no copper cable).

      Regards, Mark.

    4. It isn’t fibre broadband if its FTTC. Its copper broadband. fttc is all a con. And fibre broadband is available through other companies if communities get together and bring them in. Your councils won’t like it but they can’t stop you. Google for gigaclear.

    5. Chris, you should not be criticising Which but Ofcom. It is Ofcom that allows the FTTC products to be called fibre broadband and that has become the accepted terminology – Which is simply using the established terminology.. Fibre broadband seems to be defined as any broadband partially or wholly supplied by fibre.

      As to whether that description is reasonable or not depends. I am on a 3.5km line from the exchange. With FTTC, 3.3km of that is now fibre and 200m is copper. I am quite happy to call that fibre broadband as it is quite clearly not wholly copper broadband. I’ve seen my speeds shoot up from 65Mbps. If I was John B above, where only 8% of my line is fibre, I guess I would be disappointed. I wonder what John B’s estimated FTTC speed was prior to moving to Infinity.

      Clearly a fully fibre based broadband (FTTP/FTTH) would be marvellous but the economics of that don’t seem to add up for home owners just now unless you are lucky enough to be in a Virgin fibre area – which a lot of the country isn’t. BT’s FTTPoD products (where available) seem to be expensive to install and expensive per month.

    6. John, your old adsl was fed with fibre. My wireless community network is fed by fibre. That doesn’t make either ‘fibre broadband’.
      Just because the fibre is closer to your home it doesn’t help those further away from said cabinet, some will still be on less than a megabit. They will also be classed as having ‘fibre broadband’ and BT will get the funding for giving them it.
      As long as people like Which propagate this myth we’ll never get it sorted out. Ofcom are just part of the old boys network, not worth bothering with. Its the journalists who should start investigating not just trotting out PR for a monopoly who is ruling the roost and misleading folk.

    7. Chris, You (and others) seem to really know your subject. So I am curious. Have you written your concerns or criticism to Which? If so, what was their reply? I’m curious because all this is so new to me. Much is over my head and requires some reading on my part.

    8. if Which are on the ball they are reading these comments? water off a ducks back methinks. They would far rather take the easy line and just regurgitate BT press releases?

  2. We have TalkTalk ADSL about 1km from the exchange and always seems to get about between 6.5 and 7 Mb download which is always enough for HD TV from iPlayer etc
    This is very consistent and, it seems, it is always on so our ‘customer satisfaction’ is 100% which is reinforced by the value for money!

  3. In my village. 3 miles autside Bristol, with TalkTalk I never get ADSL speed over 1Mbit/sec. That’s OK for emails but nothing else. And there is no fibre optic option. The switch is about 4.5 km away.

  4. Couple of points. It is untrue per se that fibre is faster then copper. In fact the electrons in copper and the light waves in fibre both travel at the speed of light. In fact the signal in a copper wire is ever so slightly faster because in a fibre cable the light bounces off the walls so it goes a tiny bit further to get to the same place. The reason fibre is preferred is that in copper the signal loses strength over a distance because of the resistance of the copper and so there are repeaters (which receive and resend the signal to boost it) installed about every three miles (maybe less). Apart from the cost this slows the signal down. Fibre doesn’t have this resistance so only needs repeaters every 00 miles. Also you can get far more circuits multiplexed in a fibre cable. Over the distance from a cabinet the loss will be insignificant and so the speed of signal is as fast (well nearly) as on the fibre. Similarly, Virgin usually have a copper pair from the cable in the street to the house, but it’s a very short distance. Other factors which slow down a broadband signal is the number of people sharing it but this tends to happen in the exchange or core network (which is actually a set of computer not just wires). It doesn’t happen in the cabinet and not on the line to your house which is yours alone.

    1. Electrons do not travel at the speed of light through copper wires. The speed of transmission of signals through cables is typically about 0.6c. This depends on the inductance, capacitance and resistance of the cable, i.e its construction. Cables can be made with deliberately slow speed, they are called delay lines and have some uses. Copper cables have a maximum usable frequency depending on their construction and length, and this limits the broadband speed.

  5. If there is a small (matchbox size) white box inserted into the cables between the ‘street’ and the Master socket this might be a filter type BT80A-RF2 (used to prevent radio frequency interference). This has been reported as not being suitable for ADSL installations and can slow down broadband reception.
    Apparently the type RF3 is o.k. and might already be fitted to the BT Iplate.
    I believe BT do not like any changes to the wires that enter the Master socket from the ‘street’!
    Perhaps a BT engineer should check the wires into the master socket before considering fibre optics?

  6. I was told there was no chance of FTTC (fibre to the cabinet, for most areas the best you can expect) for my relatively new estate in N Yorkshire, but when I moved in hey presto, it had out of the blue been upgraded to BT Infinity, which using various speed checkers, regularly shows 40+ Mb/s, enough for streaming HD movies.
    If you want fibre to the home, you are almost entirely reliant on the likes of Virgin, and you won’t get it outside of large city centres unless you are part of a community project to bring fibre to your village or town.
    The wire/ fibre is the same which ever provider you use but the killer is the “contention ratio”, the number of subcribers who share the same modem connection at the exchange, so you can have 50Mb/s but with a 50:1 contention ratio and all 50 users online at the same time your speed will maybe be as little as 1Mb/s if they are all streaming HD Video at the same time, now this clearly doesn’t happen very often but at peak time speeds will be less as the available bandwidth is divided across multiple users. The other point is that the bandwidth of the servers you are trying to connect to also effects the speed, if a particular companies’ server is swamped with lots of people accessing it at the same time then the speeds you will see can be hugely reduced (Witness the snail like connection for Glastonbury tickets late last year). Even with my connection speed, sometimes sites like Iplayer and Yahoo slow to a crawl, so whereas in the past the main bottleneck was the actual connectiion speed, these days all the other factors I’ve mentioned will be nearly as significant

  7. I think Which need to be more detailed about this subject and I agree they seemed to have been taken in by the hype and not investigated the detail. Broadband for most people has been via the copper telephone cables into the house for the telephone. There are now several fibre options such as FTCC ( Fibre to the cabinet) which means the fibre terminates in the street cabinet and the last part goes via the copper telephone cables. The further from the cabinet the poorer the service. There is also FTTP. (Fibre to the premises) where the fibre goes directly to the house. The latter is obviously better than the former.Both involve line rental charges that need to be factored in to any costs. As somebody mentioned there is also Virgin with connections to the home via cable. There are other options the most popular is Foxed Wireless broadband that does not need a telephone line so along with a phone service can be cheaper than say BT and also provide Superfast Broadband of 24Mbs down and around 10Mbps up. This is fast enough of every application a residential customer would want. Come on Which be a bit more thorough in your evaluation of what is available and the costs.

  8. When I upgraded from ADSL to UW’s ULTRA (Fibre Optic) I was informed by the Customer Service operator that it would be FO from the Exchange to DP and then copper phone wire to our house. This would affect the download speeds. UW were upfront about this and I get a much faster speed than my old ADSL and am prepared to pay the extra for that.

  9. Wow. What an education I’m getting here tonight. Also info overload. It’s interesting to note that it’s not just me that hardly sees the difference between my old ADSL and the Fibre. One thing I have learned tonight is just how much more I need to learn. My thanks to all who apparently really know this subject here. Much appreciated.

  10. I am in Blackburn and we have a new service here called Air Fibre from 6G.

    I believe it works on 24Mhz and is wireless bounced from your local tall building or even lamp post to an aerial on your roof and is allegedly not affected by weather like satelitte!

    They can provide various speeds up to 300mb and contention ratio’s don’t affect your speed.

    I am going to try it at home and may also get it installed at my office if it works OK?

    1. I work for Vfast voted the UKs No 1 Fixed Wireless Broadband (FWB) company. I would check what 6G are offering as yes wireless broadband is great and I think is the future however the more realistic speeds are around 24Mbps down 10 Mbps up which is plenty for anything you might want to do. The other advantage is no need for a BT telephone line so a saving there.
      I am sure at present you will not as a residential customer get 300Mbs

      I would though recommend you to change to FWB as it is really the only real viable alternative to BT apart from Virgin.

    2. I use vFast in Kent. They use line-of-sight so no need for a land-line. I’m now totally free from BT thank God. Speeds are pretty good (20mb/10mb) but you obviously need somewhere to install the small receiver which can get LOS with their transmitter. Highly recommended, and technical support is local…..no weird call centres.

      A question for anybody who may know: Currently the vFast cable enters a small PoE box then into a router. I’m using an Apple Airport Extreme connected via a TP-Link Power Extender.

      If I connect the Airport Extreme directly to the PoE box and disconnect the existing router, will the system still work? I guess I will need to change the configuration using the Airport Extreme application on my Mac?

    1. I think they mean the street cabinet. With fibre what happens is that BT run fibre from your local exchange to street cabinets the green things you see on footpaths. cabinets serve a certain number of customers in a street or several streets. In this form of broadband the final part of the journey is through your existing copper cables from the Telegraph Pole to your house. If you are nearer the cabinet the shorter this last journey is and the better the quality.
      Most of BTs fibre roll out is done this way. They are though in some instances providing fibre to the premises (FTTP). The latter is rarer and more costly. The real alternative is AirFibre from fixed wireless companies. Here the fibre is not needed in the ground but comes through the air and is therefore cheaper and more friendly to the locality with no street cabinets and excavations.

    2. DP stands for Distribution Point. On telegraph poles its the ones that have the rectangular boxes as well as the telephone lines, where the cables are buried, inside the chambers you see with BT on them you will find a pod that allows lines to be taken from them.

    3. DP = Distrubution point. This is the pole or underground point where a group of houses feed into
      PCP = Primary connection point. This is usually the green boxes/cabinets you see on the pavements. These feed the DP’s in a certain area.

  11. I’m not really interested in fibre or “superfast” anything, but it would be nice to be able to watch the occasional video without constant buffering.
    I live about 5 km from my exchange with a line attenuation of ~66 db and can get d/l speeds of about 1.5 Mbps “downhill and with a following wind”. If my exchange ever gets fibre connected, it would probable be of no use to me as I am about 1.25 miles from my cabinet.
    All rather depressing, but it is probably worth it to live out in the sticks.

    1. I’ll stand corrected if wrong I’m sure but, it has been my understanding that you can be as much as three miles from cabinet and still have a faster connection then you do now. That’s what I was told anyway.

    2. You may well be right, I’m not sure as I’ve seen various suggestions, but I suspect it depends on who is telling you and what they want to sell.

  12. Just upgraded my Talk Talk package to fibre optic. The download speed is improved. However the wireless connectivity around our home with the TT router is worse than we had with our previous router (Apple Airport extreme). And at some times of the day internet access seems worse that before the change. So I have mixed feelings.
    The installation engineer did not email or ring in advance as TT said he would. As soon as the kit was in place he couldn’t get out of the house fast enough. I asked him to stay so I could check connectivity to a laptop upstairs, which he was reluctant to do (I pressed and he agreed) and when I said what happens if I cant get a signal upstairs, he said I would have to take it up with TT. Turned out he was a BT engineer, contracted by TT. This was not explained in advance. For the BT engineer customer satisfaction was not top of his priorities.

    1. Unless you have a completely different method of delivery Talk Talk will be delivered via the BT line you already have. So your ISP is different but probably the infrastructure is BT’s

    2. As Sean has indicated, it’s essentially (for almost everyone except those supplied by Kingston Comms on Humberside) a “BT” line (comes under the engineering section, called OPENREACH now).

      Fibre (FTTC) broadband installations are done by Openreach or sub-contracted to one or two other firms. The majority of installations have two units in the home – a VDSL modem and then a router to link to your computers / devices using cables or wi-fi. The service provided during installation is to put the modem in and check the connection with that, the router (mostly supplied by the ISP) is not really their responsibility and wireless problems are definitely not the concern of the engineer visiting to install.

      Other options for connection in different parts of a property are Poweline (using mains adaptors and sending data through the mains wiring). It can benefit older buildings / farmhouses with thick walls, where wireless could more easily be blocked.

      TalkTalk, Sky and some other ISPs often use non-BT kit at the exchange, so the data traffic back to the ISP’s world internet connections is different (and cheaper, as they are not paying Openreach for that data to be transported, hence they can offer cheaper broadband for most customers). In some cases, you might see “on net” and “off net” with different prices… eg Sky Connect (which is more expensive than their widely advertised pricing) and this (‘off’ their own ‘network’) is more costly because they are paying Openreach for service.

  13. Have recently had a discussion with TalkTalk and had the router replaced. House wifi output is low my router is in an upstairs bedroom, I had to put in a wifi extender to cover the ground floor. I went to Maplin and bought TP-Link range extender. The set up had to be via the web site and not the quick link first suggested. There is a good indicator to show the power of the wifi, it is certainly sufficient to run a smart tv in the next room without any buffering.

  14. My mother used to live in Great Linford, Milton Keynes, and despite all efforts it was impossible to get a reliable mobile phone signal in her home (dangerous when I was a doctor on call for the labour ward) and her internet connection was truly dreadful compared with my own home in a nearby town. I was recently told that this was because at the time of building much of MK, to save money, aluminium was used instead of copper and is only now slowly being replaced. Is this likely to be true?

    1. Rupert. It is correct that in MK lots of the cabling is aluminium (wholly or partially I believe) but it is unlikely that BT will ever replace it voluntarily. It is far too costly for them when they are putting all their efforts into fibre-related products and it meets their only service obligation, which is to provide voice communications.

      It also seems that Virgin, having taken over the cable network, have no interest in upgrading it to fibre, as yet. For more info, have a look at the MK Broadband Action Group. That said, those served by the Bradwell Abbey exchange can – I believe – get fibre to the premises via BT although it my be quite pricey.

    2. Rupert, your mother lived inside a faraday gage (no bars required!) just a box made from metal even a mesh will do. This should only affect the reception of wireless siginals from outside the building; although interal walls will also reduce/stop router signals. Broadband is delivered to the property by cable (fibre or copper) so a faraday gage is not a factor until you start to employ a wireless router. I’m told that wet/damp plaster/plaster board, some types of brick can attenuate router signals. It will be interesting to see if property affected by the current floods suffer from router problems as they dry out. When my house was double glazed with specially coated glass, I found that texts from mobile phones had to be resent from outside the house!! Sorry, some of the above is a bit “off topic”..

  15. There seems to be some confusion over that “fibre broadband” actually is. As others have said, this means for most people FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet). Effectively this “moves” the local exchange to your local BT cabinet, the cabinet is bigger than the traditional green cabinet and usually has “BT Infinity Is Here” plastered all over the side of it.

    BT, and others, have looked at FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) but this is looking more and more like a non-starter due to cost. Instead there is a big push towards improving the maximum bit rate over “the last mile”, the twisted pair copper cable between the BT cabinet and the Master Socket. 300 Mbit/s is a reality today and faster speeds are being looked at. For most people 100 Mbit/s is more than adequate even with online gaming and video on demand as the actual download speed is as fast as the slowest connection so someone with 100 Mbit/s broadband connected to a server with a 2 Mbit/s connection will download at @ 2 Mbit/s. Faster home broadband speeds simply move any congestion further in to the network.

    I have the BT Infinity 1 option and I get a very solid and consistent 39 mbit/s and for what we need, home internet and BT Sports, it is fine and has been very reliable. The only thing I have changed is upgrading from a BT Home Hub 3 to a Home Hub 5, the difference in wireless coverage and reliability is very, very, noticeable.

  16. There are quite a lot of cynical comments here regarding fibre broadband. My experience has been quite positive. I had regular ADSL2+ broadband with Plusnet until a few months ago. Download speed was around 8 Mbit/s, upload 1.2 Mbit/s.

    I do a fair bit of work from home, uploading and downloading large files, so was keen to upgrade to fibre – FTTC – as soon as possible, and did so late last year (still with Plusnet). It took a few days for it to get up to speed, but my average download speed is now 71 Mbit/s and upload is consistently 18.5 Mbit/s (checked via the speed tester on the Think Broadband website. My nearest BT cabinet is about only 200 metres away, which is why my speeds are so good.

    So, no. In my experience, fibre broadband is not a con.

    1. Hi Rob
      it isn’t fibre broadband if it comes through your phone line, and yes if you are 200 metres from a cabinet your personal connection may be 71 megabits per second but your neighbours won’t have that. It is a con. Its copper broadband and it only is faster for those near the cabs.

    2. Talk about “splitting hairs”. OK, it’s not fibre to your property, but the pricing for that is significantly higher than many residential users (and many smaller businesses) would be willing to pay…

      I’m on Merseyside in one of the fewer areas where Virgin isn’t available (at least not in my road… house 80 feet from me on Irlam Road could have it, just not this estate, which has formerly council high rise blocks and then a relatively small number of houses).

      FTTC is now available, but only “up to 38 Mbps” (speed estimate is 33.5 Mbps for my home). Right behind me is a Fibre cabinet serving the other side of the main road, with estimated speed (for the Chinese takeaway visible from back bedroom) of 67 Mbps.

      OK, I may not be able to get the higher speed (and don’t plan on fibre to my home for a while) but even though the cabinet serving me is a fairly long distance away, the speed is at least 3x my current ADSL 2+ speed.

  17. When fibre broadband was suggested my download speed was somewhere around 4Mb/s. With 2 heavy using teenage children and adults, we suffered from annoying video lagging and so an upgrade to fibre seemed sensible. However it has taken 3+ years for fibre broadband to arrive and in that time our copper broadband has been upgraded to the 13Mb/s we now get. Lagging is now infrequent, even though our use of broadband has also increased and I am left wondering whether there are enough benefit to be gained by paying extra for 67Mb/s fibre.

    1. your speed will have increased because the exchange has been enabled for FTTC. (fibre to the cabinet). You can’t get fibre broadband, you can only get the souped up copper from your cabinet if you are connected to one. You may be fed from the exchange. Either way, it isn’t fibre, if its from a phone line its copper broadband. You probably wouldn’t get the extra 67 Mbps anyway. It depends if you are on the exchange or on a cab. If you are on the exchange you can’t get any more. If you are on a cab you could possibly max out around 35meg if all you got before was 4meg.

  18. We’ll I’m really confused after reading this. I’m about to upgrade to BT infinity because, according to BT, it has just arrived in my area. I can see the exchange box from my house, but I’ve not noticed any digging or work to install fibre optic cables to the box. What really confuses me though is if the fibre optics were already connected up to the box, wasn’t I already benefitting from this? Or do they really run two systems, copper and fibre optics to each exchange. And doesn’t that mean if more and more people switch over to fibre optics that one will slow down and the old freed up copper will work faster? Sorry for being to technical dimwit!

    1. Infinity comes through your old phone line from your existing cabinet if you are on one. Near to it they put another cabinet and bring the fibre from the exchange to it. Then they put the old phone lines into it and call it ‘fibre broadband’. The new cabinets vary in size, and can only take so many lines before they have to install another. First come first served, and the rest will have to wait for ‘demand’. but nobody demands it because if they are close to a cabinet they usually have broadband and don’t see the point of paying any more. If you are a heavy user its worth upgrading because more devices will run at the same time, but data usage goes up and they will charge more. Its only worth upgrading if you are close to the cabinet.

    2. Thanks very much Chris, I understand a little better now. We have 3 sometimes 5 adults at home using multiple devices so I opted for an unlimited package, so I’m hoping we’ll see an improvement without any hidden extra charges on data usage. To be honest it wasn’t that much more expensive, only £6 a month so I’m happy with that if it improves both speed and reliability.

    3. Chris/anyone

      I really don’t understand our situation. We are in an area with FTTC and BT are quoting 80Mb upload for properties in the village.
      But we are directly connected to the exchange, approximately 200 m away as the crow flies. So if all broadband goes to the exchange by fibre, and the limiting factor is the distance from the cabinet, how come we can only get standard ADSL 8Mb max? Surely we should be able to get the same speed as someone 200m from a fibre enabled cabinet?

    4. They won’t quote you 80meg upload, they will say ‘up to’ 80Mbps DOWNLOAD and a fraction of that for upload. If you are on an exchange line you will still be stuck on the old system. Yet statistically you will be ‘superfast’. Its a big con, a massive superfarce that will come back and bite them when everyone realises they have been taken for a ride. Write to your MP and parish council.

  19. Just switched to fiber optic on Talktalk – it made absolutely no difference at all. I’m in North London – hardly the depths of the countryside. I even asked the salesman on the phone “what if you install it and it makes no difference? how do I know it’ll make a difference?” He just assured me that it would. But it doesn’t make any difference at all, and now I’ve got the contract for 18 months or whatever. Anyway, I’m now advising friends not to bother. The problem seems to be that you require an enormous amount of insider technical knowledge to make a decision about whether it would actually make a difference. How can the normal person make that judgement? The salesman on the phone can’t, and it’s not his job to care whether you’re ripped off or not.

    1. Hi Harvey, – millions of others can feel your pain. This ‘fibre broadband’ lark is the shame of the century and a right royal rip off. I think ‘which’ should look into it a bit more! It is all down to the distance you are from the cabinet, but the telcos are massaging the stats, so technically you now have ‘superfast fibre broadband’ through your old phone line. What a farce it is. Ofcom are composed of ex BT staff and totally toothless as regulators. The ASA is brain dead and doesn’t understand the laws of physics. We need Which to get their act into gear and expose this superfarce.

    2. well, I was sceptical, but I’d have been happy enough if it was just a little bit faster now.

      People: don’t do it! You have no guarantee that you’ll get anything at all back for your money, and effectively no rights after you’re ripped off.

    3. That’s odd, Harvey, because when I took BT Infinity I was told I would get @ 40 mbit/s, an increase of @ 25 Mbit/s on my old ADSL+ connection, and that is precisely what I got.

      You should have had in writing what your approximate speed should be after the upgrade. If it isn’t achieved then complain about it.

    4. Harvey,
      If I had to guess I would say your problem lies with your wireless router, not that there is a good solution to that problem, as I have the same issue
      From the providers side (talktalk) they should supply you with near your quoted speeds, ie. the estimate they gave you. The BT engineer should also have confirmed this was obtainable at the install.
      Now to check. Connect your laptop by Ethernet directly to the talktalk router. Run the Namesco broadband speed tester. The results should be close, if its really low go back and complain.
      I get 71Meg on Ethernet and 29Meg on wifi (midday) on the download.

      If it comes out good you’ll need to look at wifi options or better yet Ethernet connections.
      On the wifi front its a bit of a stab in the dark. New routers, WIFI settings, range extenders.
      One advantage with BT Infinity is the router which is a good unit, however no guarantees for any location.

    5. Shwing, That is good advice for Harvey, a lot of people only test the speeds on wifi and its usually pretty rubbish. The only true test is with ethernet, and even that is only a best guess but its far better than a wifi test. Also people tend to sit in another room from the router and still expect a good speed test. The further you go from the router the weaker the signal gets. Also thick walls or metal cladded insulation stop the signal or bounce it all over the place.

    6. Thanks for the testing tip – I’ll try that.

      As for complaining, I’m not so sure about that. I’m sure they’ll just deny that it’s slow, and in any case I’ve signed up to an 18-month contract or something.

  20. I think the only way with Fibre Optic Broadband has to be Virgin Media if you are in a cabled area.

    I recently installed it for my home server and was promised 150meg but current get about 161meg.

    A very happy bunny LOL

  21. Lots of interesting stuff here – can I share my own experience?
    I live out in the sticks in Cornwall – nearest exchange 1 mile. I was with Orange broadband up until 18 months ago. Average download speed 0.5 – 1.5 Mb. BT infinity arrived in our village and I signed up. They (BT) tested my line and told me the maximum it would support was 59Mb. (I am about 300 yds from the cabinet). I signed up for up to 38Mb which was all I needed, and have been very pleased. I regularly get 37Mb.
    I don’t really understand this argument about FTTC and FTTP. Fibre came to my village and gave me a huge increase in download speed. I use a BT Home Hub 5 as modem with an Apple Airport Extreme wireless router. Speeds are the same on wireless or ethernet.

    1. Olddiverman that is good news for you, and because you are about 300 yards from the cabinet you get an acceptable service which is an improvement to what you had before. Spare a thought for all those further away from the cabinet, who won’t get those speeds and never will unless they could afford the excess construction charges and £99 +VAT a month for real fibre (fttp). All you are saying is ‘I am all right Jack’.
      The fact remains that a bigger digital divide is opening up, and anyone on that exchange and cabinet will be classed as having ‘superfast’ whether they can get it or not. And BT laugh all the way to the bank with millions in funding for providing it to you. When in fact they aren’t. Its a superfarce.

    2. What is your answer then, Chris? As you are so quick to criticise.

      I don’t work for BT, however I have worked in the telecoms industry for over 25 years on Optical Network support and I know for a fact BT are spending a lot of time and money looking to improve rural access. BTs announcement of re-entering the mobile communications network by deploying a 4G network is part of this. Whilst it is not practical for BT to roll out fibre to rural communities, laying fibre is very expensive, the use of 4G LTE technologies is seen as the way forward, local small cell technology deployment being one example that is being considered.

      It is not perfect at the moment, but when when was the world ever perfect?

  22. Could I ask a silly question? I live in a house with very thick stone walls and assume this is why we have constant buffering if trying to stream anything. It is so bad it is not worth trying to do it despite having signal boosters installed. When superfast gets here would it make any difference to this? Thanks for any help

    1. If you have constant buffering when connected to your router by ethernet then it will only be worse if you try to do it through wifi. Getting ‘superfast’ may increase your speed from the router, but it may not. It depends on how far you are from the cabinet and what condition your phone line is in. If it is very old it will still slow everything down. Once you get a good connection to the main router you can then sort out the indoor wifi.

    2. Thanks for this Chris. Our router is connected to the phone line by ethernet but, yes, all the signal boosters are wifi. We are probably only a few hundred yards from the cabinet as the crow flies but the phone line goes round the garden, through the cellar, up through the floors and who knows where before getting to the phone. This way predates us and we have been here 8 years. It sounds like the line will be an issue, can we replace it? will that be astronomical ? There have recently been cables installed just outside our house which I assume connect to the green box down the street and there is an access cover duct outside our back gate. I realise these might be questions which only the phone companies could answer exactly but any general points would be very helpful.

    3. If you connect your computer to your router with ethernet does it still buffer? ie is your computer on wifi or ethernet from the router…
      If it still buffers on ethernet you must not come off that cabinet or your line is faulty. You can get it checked out and run tests yourself on it. If there is openreach activity in the area then chat to an engineer, they are brilliant and should be able to tell you what is going on.
      It all depends on how far your line goes before it hits the fibre. If it is more than 19 metres you won’t get gfast to work for the top speeds, if it is more than 600 metres you won’t get the ‘superfast’ speeds. You may not be on the cabinet anyway, you may be EO (exchange only) line. If you are on the cabinet you still may not get it because it might already be full, and they only seem to do one fibre cab next to a PCP cab. If each line were active they would need a row of ‘fibre’ cabs to service them in some areas. I think asking an engineer is your best option, one working in the area. Next time you see a van go and take them a cup of tea! They are doing their best but they know they are only patching up and not building the future. All the real engineers know the cabs can’t be upgraded and would have to be totally replaced to provide a real fibre feed.

    4. Not sure will try. Buffering has been on TV which is wifi. Computer is also at the moment on wifi as phone line comes into kitchen and computer is in next room but 20 inch stone wall between.
      I will look out for engineers and ask them. Thanks very much for your help, it is really helpful.

    5. Belmont,
      Regarding your internet connection and buffering.
      On a temporary basis, can I suggest you:-
      1. Attach your pc directly to your router with a length of Ethernet cable.
      2. Then use another Ethernet cable to connect router to your TV.
      Then see what speed / quality of service you receive on both devices.
      If it is still bad then I think you can assume that the poor service is down to the ‘supply’ to your router rather than the construction of your property. – [Do look out for a small matchbox size plastic box (maybe has BT stamped into it) in the phone line to your router. This might be an old fashioned radio frequency filter which might attenuate the signal -these were to prevent Radio signals being superimposed on telephone calls! Modern versions are available which do not affect “digital signals” if required (Unlikely)]
      Having recently spent a few days in a Devon farmhouse B&B I can confirm that the fabric of the building does indeed ruin a Wi-Fi connection between device (smartphone/laptop) and a router!
      Extenders are available which use the house electrical ring main to carry the signal from the room where the router is to the room where your TV (or other device) is located. A (mains) socket there powers another ‘extender’ which connects TV /Laptop/smartphone to the internet via Wi-Fi. I understand that several extenders can be fitted to give wide area coverage.

    6. Thanks John, tv is on talk talk extenders but buffering still a major problem. I will get some long Ethernet cable so we can connect the tv, computer and modem. Running the talk talk checks on the line leads to a message from Talk talk that everything is all right. I am beginning to think I will have to get back to them and get into those hugely protracted, finally non satisfactory discussions about the buffering again. I would change suppliers if I was convinced that anyone else would be better, from what I have read there is no guarantee about that. Does anyone think that BT service is better or are all as equal?

    7. All services on landlines will be the same. Different ISPs let you use more data, but you pay more for it. It all boils down to the fact that we’re trying to do something on an old phone network that it isn’t capable of doing. Those near a cabinet are getting away with it for now, but as needs grow they will soon start moaning too. all the ISPs buy from one supplier, (including BT internet), they all go through wholesale BT who are supplied by openreach. Its all a big con.

  23. Belmont,
    Are you saying that TalkTalk supplied the Ethernet extenders? Are they the type that inject the signal into the house electrical ring main to deliver to distant rooms?
    If they are total Wi-Fi, though 1meter stone walls then I think you are up against it!
    Is there no way of moving your TV and PC closer to your router?
    Also TV & PC plus the router closer to where the main “BT” socket is located? If only on a temporary basis?
    I too have a broadband from Tiscali (aka TalkTalk [TT]) this is copper connected, not optical fibre.
    My TV is a FreeSat + Ethernet Panasonic (I think 2009 vintage) with built in BBC TV only Iplayer (ITV CH4) as Panasonic cannot be bothered to write the software!
    The Ethernet connects via a cable of about 6-8 meters from router.
    I went for the cable connection as I’d been gifted a drum of cat 5 cable the termination tools were about £15 (and a lot o practice!) from the internet. – Extenders were not popular in 2009/2010.
    I’m not sure with this set-up what roles the satellite and internet play in the delivery of Iplayer!
    The router is on the end of about 7 meter telephone extension from the main BT box.
    That said there is almost no buffering on Iplayer. When I’ve used a laptop again via the Ethernet cable) to feed ITV & CH4 catch up from the net, again no buffering.
    I hop you manage to get satisfaction from TT, they are NOT the best as “Which” have said in a recent report! Look at the My Email section of the Community.
    You might consider sourcing your extenders and router from else ware if they are from your ISP !!
    Can you borrow any, to see if alternatives are better?
    Have you tried posting comments / questions on the TT Community Board?
    I agree with Chris Conder – BT, TT or any other ISP, they probably all use BT!

    1. Written In haste! let me correct a few typos!!
      Belmont,
      Are you saying that TalkTalk supplied the Ethernet extenders? Are they the type that inject the signal into the house electrical ring main to deliver to distant rooms?
      If they are total Wi-Fi, through 1 meter stone walls, then I think you are pushing your luck! As I found with my Devon farm B&B.
      Is there no way of moving your TV + PC closer to your router?
      Also TV & PC plus the router closer to where the main “BT” socket is located? If only on a temp basis?
      I too have a broadband from Tiscali (aka TalkTalk [TT]) this is copper connected, not optical fibre.
      My TV is a FreeSat HD + FreeView with an Ethernet socket on the back Panasonic (I think 2009 vintage) with built in BBC TV only Iplayer (ITV CH4 catch up not supported as Panasonic cannot be bothered to write the software!) – “Which” note well!
      The Ethernet connects via a Cat 5 cable of about 6-8 meters from router.
      I went for the cable connection as I’d been gifted a drum of cat 5 cable. The termination tools were about £15 (and a lot of practice!) from the internet. – Extenders were not popular in 2009/2010.
      I’m not sure with this set-up what roles the satellite and internet play in the delivery of Iplayer! But they are both required.
      The router is on the end of about 7 meter telephone extension from the main BT socket.
      That said there is almost no buffering on Iplayer. When I’ve used a laptop connected to the internet via the Ethernet cable) to feed ITV & CH4 catch up from the net, again no buffering.
      I hope you manage to get satisfaction from TT, they are NOT the best, as “Which” have said in a recent report! Look at the complaints on My Email section of the Community, in the Help section of TT web site.
      You might consider sourcing your extenders and router from else-ware if they are from your ISP !!
      Can you borrow any others to test, and see if alternatives are better ?
      Have you tried posting comments / questions on the TT Community ?
      I agree with Chris Conder – BT, TT or any other ISP, they probably all use BT

  24. Hello,

    Yesterday I upgraded to fibre-optic with my supplier which is utility warehouse. When plugging an ethernet cable into my MacBook I get 75 Mb per second. However using my wireless network which contains an Apple Time Capsule and three AirPort Express all running on 802. 11n, I only get speeds that I tested to yesterday of up to 25 Mb per second. I have never got more than 30. This is disappointing and I would like to have some tips as to how I can improve my wireless speeds? are there other adapters which would be better suited and give me better speeds. I have read around the subject quite a bit and I realise these are dual band so should be working off the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. I’m not aware of anything else on the market?

    The engineer said my Rueter was fine where it was and would not improve my wireless if I move the telephone line to the centre of the house where most of the activity takes place? I was a little puzzled by this as most forums suggest getting the Rueter in a clear space away from any other objects. It’s currently sitting behind the TV surrounded by wires from telephones and set-top boxes et cetera

    Your help would be much appreciated

    Kind regards nick

    1. As I said to Belmont, try relocating the router to different positions higher up and away from the TV and electrics, (also with fewer devices attached to the router). Do this all in stages and measure & record the speed as before and see what gives. Then if there is an improvement try and make that location permanent (within the constraints of your house / life style!

  25. As a technical ignoramous, I can’t understand why new technology like Fibre needs ancient technology like a landline….. Surely it is not beyond 21st century science to have fibre broadband connected directly to a pc & bypass a 100 odd year old relic
    Sorry if my comment sounds stupid…….. :o)

    1. Ged,

      It is possible to have a Virgin internet account that just gives fibre optic broadband with no phone service.

      There is no saving in terms of line rental – but you can be sure you won’t be running up any nasty bills for telephone calls.

    1. it isn’t real fibre broadband James. if it comes through a phone line then its the same old copper so your netgear plug in will probably do fine if it worked before. You only need to invest in faster ones if you get real fibre to the home.

  26. FTTC Fibre To The Cabinet, then a copper wire to the house.
    FTTP Fibre To The Property, no copper wire. All Fibre.
    Of course if you live near me, you will have an aluminium wire, they are absolute rubbish, I am lucky to get 2.5meg BBW and the service is not reliable frequently dropping out.
    Does anyone know if going to FTTC would improve the stability of the connection?

    1. probably not, your poor connection is down to it being aluminium, nothing is gonna change that. this is the trouble with millions of connections, there is a great big digital divide opening up.

  27. I thought this might be the case, yet when I was ‘chatting’ to jimbo in Kentucky at talktalk today he assured me that my connection would be more stable by upgrading to fibre, I guess I would get about 8meg with fibre but still have the drop outs.

    1. you aren’t upgrading to ‘fibre’ at all, all they are doing is bringing fibre out of the exchange where it is now, to a cabinet. After travelling hundreds of miles to the exchange, another few metres to a cabinet isn’t gonna make a lot of difference, especially to old or long phone lines. its a superfarce. And our regulator lets them get away with it. The head of whom, until recently was an ex bt boss. lets hope the new boss (a lady) shapes them up a bit.

  28. So come on then, Chris. you’ve repeatedly kept telling us it is a “con”, a “superfarce”, etc, and extending the fibre “another few metres to a cabinet” which “isn’t gonna make a lot of difference”, perhaps you could explain to me and everyone else why, when BT did extend the fibre another few metres to the cabinet my available broadband speed increased from @ 15 Mbit/s to @ 80 mbit/s on the assumption it wasn’t a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust that caused the increase. Yes, there are issues for some people but to say the technology doesn’t work is false.

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