Broadband has been a staple utility in our homes for more than a decade, but with home internet usage peaking over the last 12 months for obvious reasons, there has never been a better time to make sure you are getting the fastest and most reliable connection available.
Moving utility providers is a hassle. Deep down we know we should move but no-one enjoys spending their free time shopping around for the best quotes and them reading reviews to make sure that the company is living up to its promises. However, in today’s market loyalty never pays. If you have been with your current provider for over 24 months then you are probably paying too much and it is time to get fibre broadband .
This is a situation we could all successfully ignore when we spent our days in the office and only used our internet to watch Netflix in the evenings or play a few online games on the weekend. However, with home internet usage soaring over the last twelve months for obvious reasons, it has become glaringly obvious that while the government talks a big game on internet speeds, that is not the sort of connectivity many of us currently enjoy at home.
So, what technologies are on offer today?
Fibre to the premises (FTTP)
A FTTP connection is what you will want if you are after the fastest speeds. In this setup the superfast fibre-optic cable is connected directly to your home, and so depending on your subscription you could get speeds of 1Gbps or more both upstream and downstream with incredibly low latency.
A number of the large ISPs including BT, Sky, Vodafone, and TalkTalk all offer FTTP to customers in some areas, and dedicated fibre networks like HyperOptic and Cerberus are also quickly expanding their coverage. Nonetheless, the penetration of the technology is still quite low in the UK compared with other European nations, so you are one of the lucky ones if this is available to you.
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)
In a FTTC setup, a fibre-optic cable brings the superfast internet to a cabinet on your street, and then each house is connected to this cabinet with a high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL). This is the most common form of “superfast” broadband being deployed around the UK and can deliver speeds of around 30-76Mbps depending on how far your home is from the cabinet.
It’s worth mentioning Virgin Media in the FTTC section here, as their setup work in essentially the same away as FTTC in that a fibre cable connects to a cabinet on your street, but with Virgin they use a coaxial cable to the premises, which is better isolated and so can offer almost double the speeds of other FTTC providers.
Most of us don’t think about the technology we carry everywhere in our pockets, but for the last four years or so, your mobile phone may have been capable of faster connection speeds than your home broadband depending on your location.
4G technology made it possible to use wireless as your main connection, but with 5G being rolled out right now, you may be able to get speeds of up to 200Mbps with your phone. There are currently few routers on the market that work with 5G, but this will soon change and mobile internet will soon be a very popular choice amongst many households – especially those currently still languishing on outdated ADSL technology.
ADSL is what most people will think of when they think about broadband as it was the first technology to make fixed line internet a widespread utility around the UK. Many people stay on these connections, but the reality is that ADSL2+ only offers max connection speeds of 24Mbps if you’re lucky and is often more expensive than FTTC options around today that offer double or triple the speeds. If you’re still on ADSL, it’s time to look for an upgrade.