What is ultrafast broadband? When we say ‘ultrafast’, we’re referring to broadband packages that offer download speeds of between 300Mb and 1Gb.
That is, as the name implies, fast. Really, really fast - note the italics - and well above the speeds offered by the most widely available fibre optic broadband packages.
Most of them are superfast. BT’s top end Superfast Fibre package, for example, offers average download speeds of 67Mb. That’s plenty quick - well suited to shared houses and heavy users - but ultrafast blows it out of the water. It’s another class of fast.
Or to put it another way, if superfast broadband is Sonic the Hedgehog, ultrafast is like getting him wired on a six-pack of energy drinks and handing him a jetpack.
That extra speed throws up all kinds of possibilities for the humble user. Ultrafast broadband means you can download 4K films or large video games in mere minutes, or watch a movie online with virtually no buffering, even if everyone else sharing the connection is doing the same.
That sounds great! Why don’t I already have it?
The biggest problem with ultrafast broadband is that it’s not widely available, mainly the preserve of limited coverage fibre specialists like Gigaclear. It’s not just the availability that’s limited - ultrafast broadband is also quite a bit more expensive than most fibre optic packages.
For those reasons, we recommend superfast broadband for now. It’s fast enough to support pretty much whatever you need to do online, and although some areas are still unable to get it, the majority of premises in the UK now can.
If you’re dead set on getting ultrafast broadband, your options are currently rather limited. But not non-existent…
Which providers offer ultrafast broadband?
Most of the UK’s biggest providers - including Plusnet, Sky, EE and Vodafone - don't offer a widely available ultrafast home package in the UK. At least, not yet (see the next section for more on that).
However, a few providers do have something speedy up their sleeves. They include:
- Virgin Media - You can get its fibre optic broadband with average speeds of 362Mb.
- BT - Sells an ultrafast 'G.fast' package with average speeds of 300Mb. Not only is it fast, it also has a 100Mb speed guarantee, which means BT will pay you if your speed drops below that threshold.
- Talk Talk - The Faster 150 Fibre plan gets you average download speeds of 140Mb; and for the 4k ultra HD super-fans and gamers, the Faster 300 Fibre delivers average download speeds of 290Mb.
- Niche and local providers - There are plenty of tiny, local, and niche broadband providers around the UK that offer ultrafast speeds. Look out for ones like Gigaclear, for instance.
Is ultrafast broadband available in my area?
Ultrafast broadband is ultra-limited right now. There's a chance you can get BT, Talk Talk or Virgin Media's top-end package - but for anything faster than that, you may be out of luck. That said, you might be one of the fortunate few, so use the postcode checker at the top of this page to find out if you can get it in your area.
If not, you’ll have to wait for the big providers to start rolling it out. As for when that is… at present we don’t know. They clearly want to - BT has been trialling its G.Fast technology, which allows for speeds of between 300Mb and 500Mb. It’s expected to start rolling it out across the country proper at some point in the future.
When it does, companies that share the BT Openreach infrastructure, like Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet and EE, will presumably be able to offer their own ultrafast packages too.
Fibre optic broadband
If ultrafast isn't available where you are, your best bet is to go for a fibre optic package. These offer average download speeds around 67Mb - plenty fast for the majority of households. Even better, it's widely available all across the country, and you'll have a nice big choice of providers to choose from.