What is superfast broadband, can I get it and is it worth getting?

ByKelvin Goodson
Now's the time for superfast broadband #GoSuperfast

So, you’ve seen that superfast broadband advert from the government - you know, the one soundtracked by The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again - and you want to know what it’s about. Read on for the lowdown, including whether you can get it...

What's that superfast broadband advert about?

In 2010 the government and local authorities began investing a tidy little sum - £1.7billion to be precise - in order to make superfast broadband available to 95% of the UK by 2017. Things appear to be on schedule - not least because the government changed its original deadline - with superfast broadband now available to 78% of homes and business.

However, according to Chris Townsend, chief executive of the government's broadband programme, which is officially known as Broadband Delivery UK or BDUK, while things are on track, "evidence suggests that many consumers and small businesses don't know that superfast broadband is available in their area, or what they need to do to take up the service".

So, the government commissioned an advertising campaign, including the TV advert, to tell you - if a little obliquely - why it's worth getting superfast broadband, and how to get it by directing you to its Go Superfast website.

What is superfast broadband?

Superfast broadband is defined by UK communications regulator Ofcom as broadband which offers download speeds of 30Mb or more - standard broadband usually offers speeds of up to 17Mb. In the UK superfast broadband usually means fibre optic broadband, which is faster and more reliable than standard broadband because it can carry more information and is less prone to interference.

Can I get superfast broadband?

The chances are you can, what with it now being available to over three-quarters of the country's homes and businesses. And if you can't get it now, you're very likely to be able to within the next couple of years as the government is aiming to make it available to 95% of the country by 2017.

How do I find out if I can get superfast broadband?

You can find out in seconds simply by . We'll show you superfast broadband packages available in your area from all the major broadband providers and some smaller ones. You can compare them by contract length, cost, speed and more, and filter the results so you only see the sort of packages you're interested in.

Find out  if you can get superfast broadband

If superfast broadband isn't yet available in your area, you can find out when it will be on Openreach's superfast broadband website - Openreach is the division of BT that looks after the national communications network. Its postcode checker will tell you if superfast broadband is coming to your area and, if so, roughly when you can expect it to arrive.

Find out when superfast broadband is coming to you

Which providers do superfast broadband?

Superfast broadband deals

Virgin Media
Fibre Unlimited Fibre Medium with SimplyBroadband Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Super 50 Fibre Broadband + Talk Weekends
Monthly cost £10.00 (for 12 months, then £20.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £168.95 Monthly cost £8.75 (for 18 months, then £17.50 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £111.75 Monthly cost £10.00 (for 12 months, then £26.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £176.95 Monthly cost £9.00 (for 12 months, then £21.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £122.99
Up To 38 Mb Up To 38 Mb Up To 52 Mb Up To 50 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc.
Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Open 24/7

The government's superfast broadband programme largely consists of a series of partnerships between local councils and BT, which obviously means you can get superfast broadband from BT (www.bt.com) almost everywhere it's available.

However, most other major broadband providers, like EE (www.ee.co.uk), Plusnet (www.plus.net), Sky (www.sky.com) and TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk) use BT's network to offer superfast broadband, so depending on where you live you may have a range of providers to choose from.

The reason it depends on where you live is that because it costs providers a lot to rent superfast broadband from BT, so some only offer it in places where there are a lot of people, like towns and cities, to make sure they can make money from it.

There are also providers that use their own infrastructure to offer superfast broadband, although that means you can't get it in as many places. Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) offers the fastest widely-available broadband in the UK - just under half of all homes in the country can get it.

Hyperoptic (www.hyperoptic.com) offers speeds of up to 1Gb - over 50 times faster than the UK average - using fibre-to-the-home or FTTH. That means it cuts out the phone line used by BT's network and coaxial cable used by Virgin Media that slows down the connection. It's only available in certain buildings in some major cities at present though.

Find superfast broadband providers in your area

Is superfast broadband worth it?

If you live alone or with just one other person and typically go online to check your email and Facebook, browse the web and not much more, and you're happy with the broadband you've got, it probably isn't worth spending more money on.

However, if you live with your family or a bunch of housemates and use the internet for watching TV, playing games, downloading music, uploading photos and videos and more, it undoubtedly is. Because superfast broadband is faster and more reliable than standard broadband you can you do what you want online at the same time, cutting out a whole lot of frustration - and falling out!

See more on what you can do with superfast broadband

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