Superfast broadband: What is it and how do I get it?

ByKim Staples
Man with fast laptop

There’s nowt more annoying than sluggish internet that crawls along super-slowly, right? Luckily, you needn’t be stuck with a stagnant connection forever - superfast broadband exists. Keep reading and we’ll take you through what makes it so super, how to get it, and how to make sure your line is as fast as it can be.

What is superfast broadband?

In the UK, 'superfast' broadband is defined as a connection with download speeds of 24Mb or above. That's almost always achieved with a fibre optic line - though you can also get superfast speeds through mobile broadband and occasionally copper lines.

Fibre optic broadband cables are the exact same kind of fibre optics that you find in those cool lamps. Light travels along them, flashing in a way that computers and data centres can interpret as information. And because the speed of light is pretty darn fast, you get lightning-quick internet. (Read more about how fibre works here.)

ADSL broadband - the standard kind, delivered through telephone wires - has download speeds of up to 17Mb, with 'basic' broadband defined as anything above just 2Mb. Superfast fibre, meanwhile, usually comes at download speeds of up to either 38Mb or 76Mb. Some providers offer it at up to 200Mb, or even up to 1Gb.

Ethernet and fibre optics

Vitally, upload speeds are faster with fibre too - meaning you can post to social media, make calls on Skype, and host livestreams without an issue. While you'll be lucky to get upload speeds of 2Mb on standard broadband, with a superfast connection it could be as high as 20Mb. (Read more about download and upload speeds here.)

See fibre broadband deals

What's superfast broadband for?

Large households - In a household with three or more internet users, superfast broadband has the bandwidth to comfortably cope with everyone going online at once. It'll connect all your computers, smartphones, tablets, TV set-top boxes, games consoles, and smart appliances at the same time with no problem.

Video streaming - Fast broadband means less buffering when you're streaming catch-up TV, Netflix, or iPlayer, not to mention quicker loading time for HD and 4K videos.

Gaming - Fibre optic broadband has less lag (latency) and faster uploads, making it perfect for online gaming. Read more about broadband for gamers.

VoIP  and video calling - For avid Skype users, a superfast fibre connection makes everything a breeze. We're talking fewer dropped calls, smoother video, clearer sound, and less delay.

Big downloads - Superfast broadband whittles your downloading time down to mere minutes - or seconds, in some cases. A music album only takes about 30 seconds to download on a 76Mb connection, for instance.

How to get superfast broadband

First of all, check it's available in your area by using our postcode checker:

Check your postcode

Fibre coverage is getting better by the day, but sadly it still doesn't quite reach everybody. Use the 'minimum speed' filter at the side of the page to make sure you only see packages that give you superfast speeds. Then, choose a package that you like the look of, click through, and sign up. It's that simple.

Compare all superfast broadband deals

Superfast broadband

Sky
TalkTalk
NOW TV
BT
Fibre Unlimited Faster Fibre Entertainment Pass + Fab Fibre Combo (12 month) Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls
£408.95 Total first year cost £300.00 Total first year cost £381.88 Total first year cost £395.87 Total first year cost
£30.00 p/m for 18 months £48.95 setup costs 18 month contract £25.00 p/m for 18 months 18 month contract £29.99 p/m for 12 months £22.00 setup costs 12 month contract £27.99 p/m for 12 months £59.99 setup costs 12 month contract
Up To 38 Mb Up To 38 Mb Up To 38 Mb Up To 52 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go Weekend calls inc.
Channels 0 Channels 0 Channels 91 Channels 0
Unlimited Fibre Broadband! Offer ends 29/06/17 Free Fibre Connection (worth £50) Offer ends 29/06/17 Over 250 box sets Online exclusive - £75 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details Offer ends 29/06/17
Go
Call Sky on 0800 759 1469
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Go Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm

Looking for superfast business broadband? A number of providers, including BT Business and TalkTalk Business, offer special connections for businesses, which include leased lines with speeds up to 10Gb. Compare business broadband deals here.

Which broadband is fastest?

Exactly which provider will give you the fastest possible speeds depends on your area - but here are the 'up to' speeds on the superfast packages offered by the main UK providers:

  • BT Infinity - 52Mb or 76Mb
  • EE, Now TV, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone - 38Mb or 76Mb
  • Virgin Media - 100Mb, 200Mb, or 300Mb

So, Hyperoptic is definitely the fastest… but it's only available in specially selected buildings. Besides, 38Mb is more than enough speed for most of us.

To find out exactly what you can get in your area, use our postcode checker below.

Check your postcode

If superfast broadband is so fast, why is MY superfast broadband so slow?

All kinds of things could be affecting the speed of your broadband connection. That includes stuff like thick walls that block Wi-Fi signals, a crummy router, how far your house is from the local exchange, lots of gadgets connected at once, and outdated software.

For tips and tricks on how to speed it up, see our guide to boosting your broadband speed.

 

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