Fibre-optic broadband is faster and more reliable than ADSL, and more widely available than cable – but do you need it?
What is fibre-optic broadband?
The latest advancement in broadband technology, fibre-optic broadband is promising super-fast speeds for all of your daily internet needs.
Its name comes from the use of plastic or glass cables, which allow for faster data transfer compared to the standard copper wires which are used in regular broadband connections.
Do I need fibre-optic broadband?
Fibre-optic broadband is useful as it’s quicker and more stable than ADSL, and more widely available than cable – however it’s more expensive than both, and still not accessible to all of the UK.
If your area can access fibre-optic, fast broadband, think about the kind of internet user you are as this can help you decide if it’s worthwhile. For example, fibre optic broadband is a great choice for gamers.
Can I get fibre broadband in my area?
The best way to find out if you can get fibre is to use our broadband availability checker.
Simply pop your postcode in the box below and we’ll show you exactly which providers offer a fibre service at your address.
Compare broadband deals in your area
What is full-fibre broadband?
Most standard fibre broadband uses fibre optic lines between the exchange and your local street cabinet, then uses traditional copper lines between the cabinet and your home.
But full fibre broadband – also known as FTTP, or fibre-to-the-premises – uses fibre optic cables the whole way.
The main benefit is that it’s capable of very fast speeds indeed, often up to 1Gbps. It’s generally a much more reliable connection with lower latency too.
That makes it great for downloading and uploading big files quickly, streaming with next to no lag, gaming online, and making video calls with no issues.
The downside is that it can be pretty expensive compared to regular fibre broadband. It isn’t very widespread in the UK right now either, with only about 30% of us able to connect, and there are fewer providers to choose from.
Read more about full-fibre broadband in our full guide, see if you can get it in your area, and compare deals.
When will fibre come to my area?
Fibre broadband availability is being extended to more and more locations all the time, as providers extend the reach of their network infrastructure.
If you’re in area where fibre has yet to arrive, you can get some idea of when it’ll be on offer by using availability checkers on fibre broadband providers’ sites.
Which broadband providers offer fibre broadband?
You can get fibre from:
- John Lewis
- NOW Broadband
- Shell Energy
- Virgin Media
- Zen Internet
What's the best fibre broadband?
That depends what you consider ‘best’!
The most popular fibre broadband provider is still the nation’s favourite: BT.
The fastest fibre broadband goes all the way up to 900Mbps-1Gbps. You’ll find those speeds from quite a few providers, including Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, Sky, Vodafone , EE, and of course BT again. (Bear in mind these speeds aren’t available everywhere, however.)
The fibre broadband providers with the most satisfied customers, according to Ofcom, are Sky and EE.
However, the most important thing is to find the best broadband for you and your household. That might mean the cheapest package, the fastest, the most reliable, or just strike the right balance for what you’re looking for.
To find the best fibre for you, use our comparison tool. Adjust the filters at the side, and we’ll show you the deals that tick every box.
Compare broadband deals in your area
What's the cheapest fibre broadband?
Because it’s such a full market, fibre broadband prices can be very competitive – and that’s great news for customers.
Other ways to keep fibre broadband costs low are by choosing a slower speed, signing up to a long-term contract, or picking a deal with fewer features and extras (such as public Wi-Fi hotspot access or inclusive landline calls).
Plus, you’ll always find special offers from all sorts of providers – whether that’s a discounted monthly bill, a voucher or free gift, or even the first few months free.
To see the cheapest fibre broadband on MoneySuperMarket right now, just sort the results in our comparison tool by cost. We’ll show you the lowest-priced deals that fit your needs right at the top.
What fibre broadband speed do I need?
As a rule of thumb the more people in your home, the faster the broadband service you’ll require. Especially if your home’s occupants are likely to be online simultaneously.
However, the speed you need is also determined by what you plan to do with your broadband.
For instance, if you play games online and download DLC, or stream video in HD or Ultra HD, we’d recommend you pay a bit more and get a faster service.
To help you work out which speed meets your needs, we’ve matched typical households with the fibre broadband speeds we anticipate they’ll likely require
Households with one to two people: If you’re a light user, you can probably get by with a low-cost ADSL service and may not actually need fibre at all. But if you watch streaming services, play games online, or rely on the internet for work, you'll likely benefit from an entry-level fibre service with a speed of at least 20Mbps.
Households with three to four people: For average-sized households, including families and groups of housemates, you'll need a bit more speed - perhaps 30-100Mbps, depending what you use the internet for.
Households with five or more people: Large families and full households generally require a fibre broadband package with an average speed of 60Mbps or above. Anything less and your connection could slow down at times of peak demand.
What’s the difference between superfast, ultrafast and gigabit broadband?
Superfast: This label generally applies to broadband with speeds over 30Mbps. Examples of packages at the lower-end of the scale are BT’s Superfast Fibre 1 and Fibre 2. At the higher end, there’s Virgin Media’s M200 and BT’s lower-tier Full Fibre 100.
Ultrafast: Less widely available than superfast broadband, ultrafast broadband covers packages that get you speeds over 100Mbps. Ultrafast packages include Virgin Media’s M500 and BT’s Full Fibre 900.
Gigabit or gigafast: This term applies to the fastest ultrafast packages and solely applies to packages with speeds of 1Gbps or above. You can get a gigafast service with the likes of BT’s Full Fibre 1000, Virgin Media’s Gig1 or Hyperoptic's Hyperfast packages.
Can I get fibre without phone line rental?
You can. Virgin Media, BT and Hyperoptic all offer a selection of broadband packages that don’t require a landline rental.
In BT’s case broadband without landline works out about £5 cheaper per month. And comparable savings on offer with Virgin Media, too.
Do I need unlimited fibre broadband?
Because increasing amounts of us spend more and more time online and use data-heavy services such as streaming and online gaming, it’s a good idea to get an unlimited package that will allow you to use the internet as much as you like.
The good news is that unlimited download limits come as standard on all fibre packages from household-name providers.
Better still, most packages are now ‘truly unlimited’ too. That means your provider will never deliberately slow down your service at periods of peak demand.
Compare fibre-optic broadband deals
Comparing broadband tariffs on MoneySuperMarket is the best way to find a cheaper deal on fibre-optic broadband.
Just tell us your postcode and a little about the kind of connection you want, including minimum download speeds, limited or unlimited usage, and whether you want any other services included.
We’ll show you a list of deals available in your area, and once you’ve found the one you want just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.
Sources and methodology
*Annual savings based on average monthly bill of £33.99 from nationally representative sample (1000) vs our cheapest monthly cost for superfast broadband (>55Mbs) £18.95/month, May 22. Annual saving: £180.48.
What's the difference between fibre broadband and copper broadband?
Copper broadband, also known as ADSL broadband, is so called because it uses copper wires to deliver broadband to your home. They're the same ageing copper wires that are the foundation of the nationwide telephone network that's operated by Openreach.
Fibre broadband is a newer technology and replaces copper wire with fibre optic cables, which are more efficient at transmitting data. For that reason, fibre provides a much faster connection.
Why can't I get fibre broadband?
If you're unlucky enough to live in an area not covered by fibre from Openreach, Virgin Media or regional providers such as Hyperoptic, you won't be able to get fibre right now. But there's every chance it will become available at some point.
In the meantime, you may have to make do with a standard ADSL service as a stopgap. Or you can look into alternatives to fixed-line home broadband, such as satellite broadband, or a 4G/5G home broadband solution, such as Vodafone's Gigacube.
How much does fibre broadband cost?
The cheapest fibre broadband packages typically come in at only few pounds more per month than an ADSL service. However, if you want a top-of-the-range gigafast service, expect to pay around £60+ per month.