Get more out of using the internet…
Fibre's much faster and more reliable than standard broadband. If you use the internet for streaming, downloading or gaming, fibre's for you. It's a must for busy homes too, as everyone can use it without slowing each other down.
So go get a fibre broadband deals ...
Video - Why upgrade to fibre optic?
What can you do with fibre optic broadband?The extra grunt you get from fibre should give general browsing a nice boost, but there are some online activities where you'll really see a difference. Here are just a few…
The whole family online at the same time
For families, or people in house shares, broadband can become a battleground. It's a Thursday night, and you want to catch up with that crucial episode of Casualty you missed at the weekend. But one of your kids is watching videos on YouTube, another's playing games on the Xbox, your partner's making a video call on Skype and you can't watch your show without it having to stop to load every few seconds.
That's because your internet gets slower if lots of people are using it at once. But with fibre that's less of an issue. Your connection will still get slower, but because it's so much faster to start with, it's unlikely to drop to unusable levels.
Watching films and TV in high-definition
If you like to watch TV and films online, through services like BBC iPlayer and NOW TV, or subscription services like YouView from BT and TalkTalk, you'll love fibre. It gives the smoothest possible experience, with minimal loading, or interruptions, even in high-definition (HD).
Renting or buying films over the internet is becoming more and more popular - partly because of how quick fibre makes it. With 100Mb fibre broadband, for example, you could download a DVD-quality movie in less a couple of minutes approximately - it's hard to be precise about this sort of thing.
If you're a serious gamer, you need fast broadband. It could help performance of multiplayer games - ensuring you don't miss the crucial moment in a match on FIFA 2014 or a once-in-a-lifetime headshot in Call of Duty. But more importantly, it will let you download the games themselves, extra content and updates and patches very quickly, so you spend more time playing and less time waiting to play.
Phone calls are good and all, but sometimes you want to see the person you're speaking to, especially if you rarely get to see them in the flesh. Online video calls and conferences can be data-intensive, and the faster your connection the smoother your experience will be.
How does fibre optic broadband work?
See, unlike telephone lines - which have essentially been repurposed to carry broadband - fibre optic broadband cables are custom-built for broadband. Information is transmitted as flashes of light. The thing about light is that it travels extremely quickly. There's less chance of interference slowing down fibre too.
This means the broadband speeds you get from a fibre package are much faster than you'd get from a 'traditional' connection, and you get speeds much closer to the up to speeds advertised by providers to boot.
That's not to say speeds will be exactly the same as advertised, mind you. Most superfast packages use fibre optic cables to your nearest cabinet - the green box on or near your street - and run into the home via copper telephone wire, which is unreliable and prone to interference at the best of times. As a result, some drop in speed is inevitable.
The exception to the rule is Virgin Media, which has its own network. In this case, coaxial cables - which are designed to reduce interference - run into the house, so you are more likely to get the up to speeds advertised with Virgin Media than you are with other fibre deals providers.
Do I need fibre optic broadband?
For all its superfast awesomeness, fibre's not for everyone. If you're not a heavy internet user - you go online to browse websites, check your email and Facebook, and that's about it - you're not going to find your life greatly enhanced by fibre.However, you will likely benefit if you:
- Have a large family living in the same house
- Share accommodation with more than one other person
- Watch a lot of movies online
- Regularly use online TV catch-up services like BBC iPlayer
- Have a TV service like YouView, which allows you to stream content from the web
- Regularly upload photos and videos to the web
- Play games online
- Regularly download and upload large files
- Use video calling services like Skype on a regular basis
There's also cost to consider; fibre has a reputation of being prohibitively expensive. That's not the case anymore - the fierce competition between providers has driven down prices to the point where some fibre packages are actually cheaper than top-end packages that provide internet through copper phone lines.
Even so, a fibre package is never going to be the cheapest option, so if you're on a budget you're likely to find that the most affordable options are good old-fashioned standard broadband - also known as ADSL.
Can I get fibre optic broadband in my area?
One of the biggest drawbacks of fibre broadband is that not everyone can get it yet. In some areas, you may be able to pick and choose from a range of packages, whereas others - particularly in the countryside - may find they have no options at all.
That's changing though. Fibre broadband's now available to more than two thirds of homes and businesses in the UK and, supported by government investment, that's likely to hit 95% by 2017.
As it stands right now though, if you're interested in getting fibre optic broadband, you should check to make sure you can get it. Compare fibre optic broadband to see what's available in your area.Alternatively, take a look at our full guide to broadband coverage and availability.
Compare fibre broadband deals in your area
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