Openreach unveils new fibre optic broadband availability checker

New map shows fibre optic broadband availability at ‘green box’ level rather than looking to the nearest telephone exchange, which has thrown up misleading results in the past…

The UK's telecoms network operator has improved its fibre optic broadband availability map, making it easier to find out if you can get a superfast broadband like BT Infinity.

Openreach, which looks after the national communications infrastructure used solely by BT before the market was opened up to competitors, will now give a more detailed picture of what kind of broadband is actually available where you live.

With the improved map, still currently in its 'beta' testing phase, you can enter your postcode and it'll show you the status of your street cabinet - the green metal box you've probably seen on a street corner not far from your home.

Previously, it only showed whether your local telephone exchange had been upgraded.

This was a flawed system as it could sometimes be quite misleading. That's because even once your exchange has been upgraded with fibre optic technology, there's often a long wait before all the street cabinets in your area are upgraded.

This is because Openreach uses a technique called fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) to deliver download speeds of up to 76Mb. This is where copper wire between the exchange and the street cabinet is replaced with fibre optic cable, which is better at carrying more data across long distances.

Copper wire still completes the final stretch from the street cabinet to your home, which is why BT can't yet match the 152Mb top download speed of Virgin Media, who connect homes with coaxial cable - less prone to interference - instead of old-fashioned copper.

If your options are limited at the moment, you might not have to wait too much longer for superfast broadband to arrive. The government's currently working with BT to bring fibre optic broadband to 95% of the population by 2017.

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