Along with Virgin Media, BT is blazing a trail for superfast broadband. Its fibre optic network already available to more than 40% of the UK population and by 2014, two-thirds of the population will be able to access the service.
BT's superfast broadband network now
BT's original superfast broadband product, BT Infinity delivers speeds of up to 38Mb and 76Mb coupled with impressive up to 19Mb upload speeds.
BT's fibre network is available to over 40% of UK households at present, and BT is upgrading a further 2000+ telephone exchanges nationwide during 2013 as part of its continued network upgrade programme.
BT also offers an up to 100Mb connection in some areas of the UK.
Find out if BT Infinity is available in your area using our postcode checker.
BT's superfast broadband network four years from now
According to BT, by the end of 2014 over two-thirds of UK households will be able to receive superfast broadband either by fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) - that's fibre cable from the local exchange to the cabinet on your street with the last stretch to your house being traditional copper wire, or fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), where the fibre goes all the way from exchange to your home.
300Mb broadband planned
Following trials of its 110Mb FTTH service in 2011, Openreach revealed that the same technology will be used to deliver speeds of up to 300Mb in the future - three times as fast as those currently offered by other major networks.
The benefits of fibre optic broadband
There are numerous benefits to having a fibre optic broadband connection:
- It allows multiple users to be online at the same time with no drop in speed
- Fans of film and TV streaming can kiss goodbye to the annoying buffering delays that can occur with non-fibre broadband
- Speeds are fast AND consistent so film lovers will be able to download a high quality film in just minutes, and gamers won't experience a connection lag during at that critical moment mid-battle
Ofcom findings show that customers with BT Infinity's up to 38Mb package averaged download speeds of between 32.7-35.7Mb. Although this is slower than the average speeds delivered by Virgin Media and costs slightly more, BT's £2.5 billion fibre investment plans make them a superfast broadband force to be reckoned with.
BT's ambitious plans are in line with the government's current £830 million strategy to make sure the UK has the best broadband network in Europe by 2015.
In 2010, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, set out plans which include creating a "digital hub" in every community in the country - particularly welcome news for rural communities which are often missed out by big providers because it is not commercially viable for them to extend their superfast services to such areas.
Traditional phone line broadband v fibre optic broadband
Broadband has traditionally been delivered through the UK's copper telephone wire network, which makes it subject to the significant slowing of connection speeds as distance from the telephone exchange increases or as the quality of the wire declines.
Many superfast broadband providers claim that glass fibre optic cables are "future proof" as they are designed to deliver massive amounts of information at lightning fast speeds of between 38-100+Mb.
There are still some factors that negatively affect your speed including distance from the telephone cabinet - where the fibre optic cable usually ends - to your house, and low quality wiring.
However, these are not as significant as with copper wire networks. This enables broadband providers to deliver actual download speeds far closer to the advertised up to speeds than those on a copper wire network.
At present the UK coverage of fibre optic broadband doesn't match that of its traditional copper wire predecessor, but it is rapidly closing the gap and the massive boost to speed it brings is increasingly difficult to ignore, especially for the heavy internet user.