FTTP vs FTTC broadband

Fibre streaks

Let’s be honest, picking the right fibre optic broadband package can be daunting, and the jargon you'll hear along the way can make the experience a whole lot more complicated than it needs to be.

Given this, we thought it would be helpful to break down two of the most common terms you’ll hear during your search for the right fibre optic package: FTTP and FTTC.

So, what the heck do they mean, and which is best for you?

Let’s dive straight in…

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What is fibre?

Fibre optic, as you probably already know, is superfast broadband.

For large families, serious gamers and anyone who runs their own business, it’s ideal, as it lets you operate several different devices at once, and is super-reliable compared to standard ADSL broadband.

How does fibre work?

The optical fibres within the tubing of fibre cables are about the width of a human hair and designed to carry light.

It’s actually quite simple; the casing around the inside of the optical fibres is one-hundred percent reflective, allowing light to bounce off the sides and traverse along the cables. When the end of the cable, the flashes are recognised as data.

This, in a nutshell, makes for a seriously fast broadband connection.

Yup, fibre-optic truly is the king of broadband, and FTTC and FTTP are the two main types available in the UK.

That said, if you don’t understand the difference between the two, you could end up paying over the odds for an internet package that isn’t right for you.

What is FTTC?

In a nutshell, FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) broadband uses a full fibre optic connection from provider to the cabinets (the green ones you see in many streets), and copper wire from that to your home from the cabinet.

FTTC broadband is the most common setup for broadband in the UK, and makes use of existing street cabinets and infrastructure, curbing the need to dig up any roads in established areas.

This makes it a lot cheaper to install than FTTP broadband, and the reason why most of the UK can access it.

However, because it still uses inefficient copper wire, speeds are far lower than full fibre connections. Speaking of which…

What is FTTP?

FFTP means ‘fibre to the premises’ - it's also sometimes called FTTH (fibre to the home). Rather than reach your home via the green cabinet at the end of your street, FTTP travels directly from your internet provider.

With me so far? Great.

FTTP diagram

Unlike FTTC broadband, FTTP uses all fibre optic, making it the fastest type of fibre on the market. In fact, it can reach speeds of up to an impressive 1Gbps. That’s seriously fast!

But there's an elephant in the room: availability. Full fibre connections are extremely limited in the UK. Even if you want one, there's a very good chance you won't be able to get it.

Which is better?

Well, it depends on what you’re looking for.

In terms of pure speed, FTTP is better. For example, if your family uses several devices at once - game consoles, iPads, on demand TV, etc - then FTTP will be that much faster than FTTC, and won’t slow down any of your gizmos.

And if you run a business, you’ll almost certainly benefit from a FTTP connection, not only because the speeds are a lot quicker, but also because there’s less chance the internet will cut out half-way through an important email to a client.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

How does FTTC and FTTP compare?

  • Speed - As I say, the main difference between the two is speed: FTTP is a lot faster than FFTC, reaching speeds of 330Mb and in some cases even 1Gbps. If you’re worried about losing connection, and you don’t mind forking out a little more cash, then FTTP will be the best option for you.
  • Cost - Although FTTP broadband is super-fast, it’s also super expensive to install. That’s because, unlike FFTC broadband, FTTP relies on there being new infrastructure in your area to work properly - which is why it isn’t available across large parts of the UK. If you’re on a budget, FTTC is the best option for you.
  • Availability - Unfortunately, FTTP broadband coverage is extremely limited. Still, demand is going nowhere but up. Right now, over a million premises in the UK can get access it, with the Government planning to roll-it out to three million homes and businesses by 2020. FTTP will be the broadband of the future - but if you want fast speeds now, you may have to go for FTTC.

Of course, before you decide, we recommend you check with your provider to see exactly what speeds your likely to get, as they may vary depending on your area.

Where can I get FTTC deals?

Here’s the thing; although FTTC is slower than FTTP, it’s still fibre, and it’s still properly fast. What's more, broadband providers offer some competitive FTTC deals.

Here’s where you’re likely to find some great deals:

  • BT - BT offer a range of fibre-to-the-cabinet packages, with top-speeds reaching 67Mb. It also offers ultrafast broadband in a very small number of area.
  • TalkTalk- TalkTalk FTTC broadband is available at speeds of either 35Mb or 63Mb and you can get unlimited downloads.
  • Plusnet- Plusnet offers two fibre broadband packages - one with speeds of 36Mb, and another with average speeds of 66Mb and you can get them with a landline, or its own.
  • Sky - not only do Sky offer a range of top-class TV, it also provides some pretty decent broadband, too...

Remember, always check the speeds with your provider first, as they’ll likely vary from those advertised above.

You can check what type of broadband is available in your area by using our postcode checker, below:

Where can I get FTTP deals?

Getting FTTP deals can be a little trickier than FTTC because, as I say, it’s not widely available. But there are a couple of providers who can help:

  • Virgin Media - All of Virgin Media’s broadband packages are fibre optic, and it offers some very impressive download speeds of up to 362Mbs. Now, technically, Virgin Media doesn’t offer a pure fibre-optic connection - that’s because it uses a special cable that’s mostly made of copper. Difference is, these cables can send data a lot faster than standard phone lines and allows Virgin to offer speeds of up to 362Mbs.
  • Gigaclear - Gigaclear offers seriously fast FTTP broadband, with speeds of up to a whopping 900Mb. Bear in mind, though, with Gigaclear, you may have to pay a hefty connection fee if you want to use it.

How do I get fibre broadband?

Right now, over ninety per cent of households in the UK can access fibre broadband, so it’s more than likely you’ll be able to get a fibre connection

If you live in a rural area, though, your chances of getting fibre-optic will be much lower.

Also, If you’ve never had a fibre connection before, an engineer may need to come out an install the appropriate gizmos in your phone socket.

Fortunately, that’s just about the full extent of the hassle involved in setting up fibre-optic.

Does fibre optic use a phone line?

Usually, yes.

I say ‘usually’ because Virgin Media uses its own cables, which means they can offer a much faster broadband connection than most providers.

How do I switch to fibre?

So, now that you know more about FTTC and FTTP broadband, next step is to choose the one that’s right for you.

Simply click on the button below to compare packages and choose the one that suits you best.

Once you’ve done that, plug your swanky new router into the appropriate socket, wait a while, and hey presto! Enjoy your new superfast broadband.

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