Types of broadband – Fibre and ADSL

Types of Broadband – the simple version!

For the majority of UK households, the types of broadband you are likely to be able to get can be put into three slightly simplified categories, Standard ADSL Broadband, Superfast Fibre Broadband (FTTC) and Ultrafast Fibre Broadband (FTTP).

It’s unlikely a single household would have access to all three types of broadband, and what is available to you will depend on your actual address. For an independent availability check of your address, feel free to use the Ofcom and Openreach availability checkers further down the page.

Standard ADSL Broadband

Basic broadband types - adslNot so long ago, ADSL broadband was the fastest thing not born in a leopard’s skin, and a luxury for anyone who’d moved over from dial-up broadband. These days it’s often referred to as ‘standard broadband’ and is available across most of the UK, although it can be very slow in some areas. ADSL will offer download speeds of up to 20Mbps but most users will see lower speeds, depending on how far they are from their local cabinet / exchange.

For a single user who doesn’t want to stream 4K television and isn’t a heavy downloader or online gamer, the typical download speeds of around the 10-11Mbps mark ADSL offers should be adequate. You should be aware that some suppliers have stopped advertising ADSL broadband at addresses where fibre broadband is available, in line with Government aims to move everybody across to fibre.

Superfast Fibre Broadband (FTTC)

Basic broadband types - fttcFor the majority of UK households, fibre broadband means FTTC or superfast broadband. FTTC means ‘fibre to the cabinet’ and means that the fibre network extends as far as your local cabinet. Copper cables relay the broadband from the cabinet and into your house. It’s much faster than ADSL and more stable.

Typically, broadband suppliers offer two levels of superfast fibre broadband, one with a capped download speed of 40Mbps and the other with a capped download speed of 80Mbps. However, a little like ADSL, the speeds you actually get will depend on how far your property is from the local cabinet. The further it is, the more speed is lost.

The majority of people would be more than happy to get 40Mbps download speeds and would find it good enough for their purposes. For larger households, with multiple connected devices and heavy gamers might prefer the higher 80Mbps option.

Ultrafast Fibre Broadband (FTTP)

Basic broadband types - fttpThe current top-line fibre broadband option is Ultrafast fibre or FTTP. The initials stand for ‘fibre-to-the-Premises’ and refers to a system which provides a full start to finish fibre optic connection, right into your property.

New-builds and many renovated properties are being fitted with FTTP as standard now by BT, Virgin and other specialist suppliers. It’s the way forward, but for now is also a little expensive.

Without the inherent resistance copper cables bring to the party, FTTP offers higher potential speeds than FTTC fibre broadband. Different packages are available, with some offering download speeds of around 40-50Mbps but in some areas speeds of up to 300Mbps are possible.

Unfortunately, FTTP broadband is only available in selected areas at present.