Millions of people unlocked supercharged fiber broadband speeds


Ofcom reports 8 million UK homes can now access future-proof full-fiber broadband (Image: GETTY)

More than eight million homes across the UK can now access full fiber broadband – an increase of three million homes from the same period last year, the regulator Ofcom has confirmed. Full fiber connections are faster, more reliable, and require no line rental costs, unlike traditional copper cables. Some of the best-known brands, including BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, are now offering customers the option of upgrading to a full fiber broadband connection. And if you are lucky enough to live in one of the eight million premises now connected to this next-generation connection, switching to this technology has a number of advantages.

Fiber optic cables have long been used to boost internet speeds to your street cabinet, with the last few feet to your home’s Wi-Fi router covered by copper cables. These are many slower than fiber and less reliable – broadband speeds delivered over copper cables can be affected by inclement weather, for example. If you have a full fiber connection, the same powerful cables that take the Internet to your closet on your street continue to your front door. Of course, this usually requires digging out parts of the road and sidewalk on your street, which is why upgrading old connections takes so long.

Full fiber connections do not require a separate line rental charge and can be purchased without a phone line. For those who want a landline number, specially designed handsets that use the broadband connection, such as FaceTime Audio or WhatsApp call, are available that offer improved call quality. With a full fiber broadband connection, you can expect gigabit broadband speeds. At 1000 Mbps, that’s over 14 times faster than the average UK home broadband connection.

ofcom 8 million speed full fiber broadband uk bt sky talktalk virgin media

Fiber replaces slower copper cables to bring the high speed of these cabinets to your front door (Image: GETTY)

At these super-fast speeds, you’ll be able to download a 1080p high-definition movie in under 36 seconds, or a super-high-quality 4K movie in under three minutes. In busy homes, with multiple people streaming music, gourmet boxes on Netflix, downloading software updates, backing up photos to the cloud and posting to social media ….

It should be noted that while Virgin Media has upgraded all of its 15.5 million customers to gigabit capable connections, not all of those users have fiber optic broadband. Instead, Virgin Media leverages existing DOCSIS 3.1 technology built into its network to increase the speeds available to customers. Virgin Media is also upgrading its customers to full fiber to help sustain its network, but for now millions of people can already access some of the fastest speeds in the UK.

BT’s Openreach, which provides the underlying infrastructure to BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Plusnet and a number of other popular broadband companies, has connected more than five million homes to its all-fiber infrastructure. Interestingly, although it relies on the same cables as TalkTalk and BT, which both offer gigabit speeds, the fastest broadband plan available from Sky is currently 500 Mbps – about half the speed. !

It’s unclear why the satellite TV company decided not to offer these next-gen speeds to those in the upgraded areas, but rumors have been circulating for some time that Sky plans to drop Openreach for Virgin Media’s gigabit-enabled network.

What is full fiber broadband and why is it better than your current connection?

Fiber broadband is the future of the Internet, and carriers like Virgin Media and BT’s Openreach have worked hard to upgrade their networks to deliver these blazing fast download speeds. While existing broadband connections rely on copper cables to deliver internet from those green communication boxes littered on the streets of the UK, all-fiber broadband – as the name suggests – uses cables. more powerful (and reliable) fiber optics to your front door instead.

The fastest fiber optic speeds currently available in the UK are offered with Virgin Media’s Gig1 plan, which offers average download speeds of 1130 Mbps. That’s light years ahead of Blighty’s average broadband download speed, which stands at around 70 Mbps as measured earlier in 2021.

As an example of the benefits of fiber connections, Gigabit broadband will let you download a high definition feature film in just 36 seconds, or a crisp 4K Ultra HD movie in under three minutes. These speeds allow busy households to save their photos, download software updates, make video calls, binge on 4K boxes, and play online video games all at the same time. rush hour without a hint of buffering. It also prepares houses to stand the test of time for the next wave of technology, including 8K video quality, virtual reality, and more.

By the end of 2021, Virgin Media upgraded its entire network of 15.5 million homes to gigabit-capable broadband (although it will take longer for all of these customers to use fully live connections. fiber). So if you are covered by Virgin Media, you can sign up right away. While BT’s Openreach will complete the upgrade of its all-fiber network (some 25 million homes) by December 2026. So far, super-fast downloads are available for more than five million properties covered by Openreach, which provides the infrastructure for BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Plusnet, EE, Vodafone and many more.

Small businesses, like Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and Community fiber, have emerged to bring full fiber broadband to areas that are currently not served by either Virgin Media or Openreach. These include projects specifically targeted at rural villages or suburban towns. If you can’t expect next-gen broadband, these are a great option – and can also be cheaper than more well-known brands.

According to the Ofcom report, around 7.4 million broadband customers in the UK are currently out of contract and may therefore switch to a new provider or to a new agreement with their existing provider. By keeping the same monthly fees after your contract ends, you’ll likely pay higher prices for slower speeds.

“Many families now have multiple devices on the go at the same time for work, learning and entertainment – and the holiday season can see a particular battle for bandwidth,” said Lindsey Fussell , Director of Ofcom’s Network and Communications group.

Integral fiber helps meet these demands, with millions more benefiting from faster speeds and more reliable connections.

Lindsey fussell

“Full fiber helps meet these demands, with millions more benefiting from faster speeds and more reliable connections. But some homes in hard-to-reach areas are still struggling to get decent broadband, so there is still work to be done to ensure these communities get the connections they need.

About 123,000 households (0.4% of the UK) still do not have access to a ‘decent’ broadband connection, which Ofcom defines as offering download speeds of 10 Mbps and download speeds of. 1 Mbps. At this speed, it would take 90 minutes to download a feature film in High Definition.

If you’re currently one of the 7.4 million people outside of their minimum contract, it’s worth checking out the latest available offers. Chances are, you’ll be able to save on your monthly bills or increase your download speeds – and those with very old contracts will probably be able to do both at the same time! Express.co.uk has rounded up the latest UK broadband deals below …

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