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What is fibre broadband, and what’s the difference between Fibre To The Cabinet and Fibre To The Premises?

If you want to know what fibre broadband is and learn about the different types of fibre broadband, this easy-to-understand explainer guide will help. Here we discuss how it all works and the difference between Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), and which would be best for you.

What is fibre broadband? A simply question, right? Not so much when you take into consideration the variations out there. Who knew there was a difference between Fibre To The Cabinet and Fibre To The Premises? Well there is, and it could cost you some serious speed if you don’t know which you’re getting.

Most of us now shell out for fibre internet as a monthly expense, every bit as important as water, gas, electricity and air. Oh, wait, they’ve not started charging for that last one – yet. Point is, you want to make sure that you get what you think you’re paying for, so for instance if you’re shelling out for a 20Mbps connection, you want to make sure you’re actually getting that speed.

Here’s everything you need to know about fibre broadband, plus how to check that you’re getting a good speed if you already have it.

What is fibre broadband?

Broadband that is delivered over fibre optic cables is known as fibre broadband. These cables, as the name suggests, deliver messages using optics via light. This method of delivery is incredibly fast, meaning rapid upload and download speeds.

Older methods that transmit data along wires instead (the same way that electricity is transmitted) are slower, as the data has to pass along a physical connection.

What is Fibre To The Cabinet and Fibre To The Premises?

If you’re after the fastest possible internet connection, what you really need is fibre optic cabling right up to your router, so you never lose any speed in that data delivery. This is what you get from a Fibre To The Premises connection, with fibre optic cable used all the way up to your homestead.

Fibre To The Cabinet, however, doesn’t give you fibre optic cabling all the way to your house. Instead, this speedy delivery method only goes as far as your local exchange cabinet box, and from here it’s existing broadband infrastructure which leads to your home. That means copper wiring which, as mentioned, will be slower than true fibre optic broadband. So in other words, your connection will be choked in that final stretch, slowing down your upload and download speeds.

These cabinets vary in distance of course, depending on your local infrastructure. So if you’re far from one, your connection will be slower than a home whose location is closer to the cabinet, as more copper cabling is involved.

Check out our guide to FTTC and our guide to FTTP for all you need to know.

In basic summary, Fibre To The Premises is good and Fibre To The Cabinet is not so good. Of course, not that many people have the luxury of fibre optic broadband in their street, so many of us will have to make do with the second option – for now, at least.

How fast does my fibre broadband need to be?

In reality lots of people won’t need fully-fledged fibre all the way to their premises to enjoy a reliable internet connection. One of the biggest munchers of data is a 4K UHD stream of Netflix, as well as online gaming, and we personally can do both with a FTTC connection.

However, if you have a lot of gamers and 4K streamers in your street, you might find that your connection drops at certain times of the day. In these cases, it’s worth hunting down FTTP where available.

Read next: Is your home and internet connection ready for 4K video streaming?

Check out our guide to Virgin Media’s Ultrafast fibre broadband bundles if you demand a premium service.

How can I check my broadband speed?

No worries, Recombu has you sorted. Just head on over to our built-in broadband speed checker and we’ll let you know how good your current connection is.

Is Fibre To The Cabinet available for my home?

Fibre To The Cabinet broadband is available to millions of homes and business in the UK – over 11 million at the last count. We keep a comprehensive list of all the UK ISPs which offer Fibre To The Cabinet broadband in our ‘Fibre Broadband: Who’s doing it?‘ feature.


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