What is fibre optic broadband?
What exactly is fibre optic broadband and why should you want it more than your existing connection to the internet? The term fibre optic actually refers to the cables through which the service is delivered – which are made of glass or plastic. These materials are conducive to fast movement of data along their entire length. The cables are also stored underground which requires extensive an ongoing work in digging up the nation's roads.
By contrast, traditional ADSL broadband runs through copper telephone wires which are sometimes overhead. Through copper wires, the broadband speed is lost quickly. This is why ADSL broadband customers will experience different broadband speeds depending on how far their home is from the exchange. By contrast, fibre optic broadband customers will lose less speed over long distances and this makes it the perfect option for those looking for super-fast broadband.
Should I get fibre optic broadband?
So is this kind of cable broadband the right kind of service for you? The answer to this really depends on how you use the internet. If you just hop online from time to time to check your emails and download some holiday snaps, fibre broadband probably won't be necessary. It is more expensive than ADSL and you won't be taking full advantage.
However, if you watch TV and films that are streamed through the internet, are a heavy video game user and play online with other gamers, or you even work from home and require your connection to be 100% quick and reliable, you will need fast upload and download speeds that are only available through fibre optic broadband.
For example, downstream speeds of up to 100Mbps are available through packages like BT's Broadband Infinity, with upstream speeds of up to 15Mbps and unlimited usage. It's important to compare all fibre optic broadband deals and shop around though so you can see exactly what's included and for what monthly fee.
Can I get fibre optic broadband?
Once you have decided that fibre optic broadband is right for you, getting it installed might not be as straightforward. Not all areas of the UK are serviced yet with fibre optic broadband wires – especially small towns and villages in the countryside. There are broadband postcode checkers online that will show you what services are available in your area.
If you find that Fibre optic broadband is not yet available in your area, it can be frustrating as there is not much you can do about it. However, the good news is, it will soon be readily available in every part of the UK rather than just confined to its major towns and cities.
If it is fibre optic broadband is available – as is still the case with millions of UK households – you will need to shop around online and see what's available in terms of upload and download speeds as well as maximum usage and compare costs.
Advantages and disadvantages of fibre optic broadband
Fibre optic broadband is great for speed and capacity. It is also more reliable than ASDL broadband and when bandwidths increase, it's easy to accommodate so you can benefit from a faster service without taking action or encountering any disruption.
Fibre optics also provides an extremely secure transmission medium in terms of security as it is very difficult to 'listen in' or monitor any information that is being exchanged along the cables. Although of course, this doesn't negate the need for full security software on your PC.
But there are some disadvantages too of fibre optic broadband too. The materials the cables comprise of can be susceptible to weather and wildlife damage. Installing fibre optic cables is also still often costly as well as disruptive. However, as this type of broadband communication becomes more common, thankfully these costs are dropping. For more information, read our fibre optic broadband guide.