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. It almost always means a fibre optic line, though you can also get superfast speeds through wireless broadband (like 4G mobile broadband) and, in some cases, copper lines.

Here's an idea of the speeds, packages, and pricing you can get with fibre:

Featured superfast fibre deals

Virgin Media
Fibre Unlimited Faster Fibre (all in pricing) 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 £27.00 1st year cost: £349.00 Monthly cost £10.99 (for 12 months, then £26.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £188.83 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

See more fibre optic deals

Most superfast broadband packages come with download speeds of up to either 38Mb or 76Mb, though there's a fair bit of variation. In comparison, standard ADSL broadband has speeds up to 17Mb - though very few people actually record speeds that high - and 'basic' broadband is defined as just 2Mb.

Vitally, upload speeds are faster too. While better download speeds mean you can browse the 'net, download big files, and stream videos and music more easily, faster upload speeds let you post to social media, make calls on Skype, and host livestreams. 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.)

So if you've only ever had a standard broadband connection… you'll definitely notice the difference when you upgrade to fibre.

Why get superfast broadband?

Large households - In a big household - with, say, three or more internet users - superfast broadband has the bandwidth to comfortably cope with everyone going online at once. Remember that it isn't just computers that connect to broadband; you've also got smartphones, tablets, TV set-top boxes, games consoles, and maybe even smart appliances like cars and thermostats.

Video and TV streaming - Watch a lot of Netflix, iPlayer, or Now TV? Fast broadband means less buffering when you're streaming TV, not to mention quicker loading time for HD videos.

Gaming - Fibre optic broadband has less lag (latency), making it perfect for online gaming. Plus, those huge game files will download nice and quickly, and you can host Twitch streams with nary an issue.

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- Find yourself downloading a lot of files, like movies, games, TV shows, documents, and music? With superfast broadband you can whittle 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.

Couple with laptop and tablet

How to get superfast broadband

First of all, check it's available in your area by using our postcode checker. Fibre coverage is getting better by the day, but sadly it still doesn't quite reach everybody. Make sure that the 'Fibre' box is ticked and the 'Standard' box isn't - this way, you'll only see your superfast fibre options.

Choose a package that you like the look of, click through, and sign up. It's that simple.

Compare superfast broadband deals

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:

So, Hyperoptic is definitely the fastest… though it's only available in specially selected buildings. Besides, very few of us can really make use of a 1Gb connection - 38Mb is often more than enough speed.

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.

Ethernet cable

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. You might be getting slower speeds because…

Here are some tips and tricks on how to improve your broadband speed.

If you're getting speeds far, far lower than what you were promised, you could be entitled to cancel your contract early without penalty - see our guide to your broadband consumer rights for more info.


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