There’s fast broadband, there’s superfast broadband, and then there’s gigabit broadband – internet with truly eye-watering download speeds. But do you really need broadband that fast? Well, you just might.
Read on, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about gigabit broadband – and whether it’s really worth getting.
What is gigabit broadband?
It’s ultrafast broadband that can reach speeds of 1Gbps. That’s 1,000Mbps, or one gigabit per second – hence why we call it ‘gigabit broadband’.
In other words, it’s incredibly fast internet. To give you an idea of just how fast that is, basic ADSL broadband only reaches average speeds around 10Mbps, while most standard fibre optic broadband clocks in between 30-100Mbps.
With a lightning-fast gigabit service, you can download files quickly, stream without interruption, and use lots of devices at once, and still have a lot of megabits’ worth of bandwidth to spare.
The catch is that gigabit broadband isn’t available everywhere in the UK just yet, but if you’re in a city or a large town, you may be in luck.
What’s more, those extra speeds don’t come cheap. Gigabit broadband is usually quite a bit more expensive than regular broadband.
What can I do with gigabit internet speeds?
The real question is, what can’t you do with gigabit internet speeds? This type of broadband allows you to:
- Connect lots of devices – With all that bandwidth at your disposal, you can have several computers, phones, tablets, TVs, gaming consoles, and smart gadgets using the internet at once. That makes it a great choice for a household with lots of people.
- Stream video in high definition – You can stream 4K-resolution content with barely any buffering, even if someone else in the house is streaming TV too.
- Work from home – Gigabit internet gives you plenty of speed to download large files, and to connect to VPNs, virtual environments, or remote PCs and services without being slowed down. It’s a more reliable line, so you don’t need to worry about losing connection from an important Zoom meeting.
- Make video calls – You can make calls reliably, and in higher quality picture and audio.
- Play games – There’s less lag for online games – not to mention enough speed to download the latest releases nice and quickly. Plus, if you’re a VR fiend, content will download to your headset at reliably fast speeds too.
- Host streams, files, and servers – Gigabit internet comes with high upload speeds, so you can host content more easily.
Who needs gigabit broadband?
Anyone who would benefit from a seriously high-powered internet connection.
That includes those who rely on very fast internet for work, households who regularly stream in high definition, and gamers who benefit from ultrafast broadband.
It’s essential, too, if you need high upload speeds – for instance, if you host a server, browse using a VPN, run livestreams as a content creator, or just make a lot of video calls.
It’s also not a bad shout if the only other internet in your postcode is slow or unreliable. If you haven’t had much luck with the broadband from providers like BT or Virgin Media, gigabit providers offer an alternative.
Not everyone benefits from gigabit broadband, however. In all honesty, the average household – with fewer than, say, five internet users – is fine with a standard broadband connection. Especially if no one in the house does anything particularly intensive online.
Superfast fibre optic broadband speeds over 50Mbps are available almost everywhere, and tend to be enough for most homes. If no more than one or two people are ever streaming 4K TV, video calling, or gaming at any one time, a standard fibre broadband package should serve you just fine – provided the network in your area is reliable.
And if you only really use the internet for email, social media, and watching a bit of TV, there’s no need for gigabit internet at all.
Are gigabit broadband speeds worth it?
This really depends on two key considerations:
- What do you want to use your internet for, and on how many devices?
- What are the other options for your property?
If you really do rely on ultrafast speeds (e.g. if you work with high tech services, use VPNs a lot, stream in high definition or use VR regularly, or just have a very large household with lots of gadgets and lots of people using them at once), you may find gigabit broadband is worth it.
That goes double if the other providers in your area offer piddling speeds, or if you’ve found them to be unreliable.
For the majority of households though, speeds between 50-100Mbps are more than enough. Even if you have a lot of connected devices. Bear in mind that most tasks, like browsing the web, listening to Spotify, or even streaming a TV show, only use a couple of megabits of bandwidth.
You may well find that you’re paying over the odds for a speed you simply don’t need. Saving money by choosing a standard fibre optic broadband package may be a better option.
Can I get gigabit broadband in my area?
Right now, only around 30-40% of the UK can get gigabit speeds. Ultrafast networks are mostly found in cities and decent-sized towns that providers have found to be the most financially viable. That said, the networks are expanding all the time.
Find out if you can get it where you are with our postcode checker. Type in your postcode, and we’ll show you everything available. You can find the very fastest options by sorting the searching results by speed.
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Which providers offer gigabit broadband?
Gigabit speeds are available in certain areas through the BT-owned Openreach network, which a large number of other broadband providers piggyback on.
Virgin Media also offers extremely fast internet, in speeds up to 1130Mbps – but, again, its very highest speeds are limited to certain areas.
Other gigabit broadband options tend to come from independent networks. Many of these are often highly localised to one area of the country, and dedicated to getting as many locals connected to fast internet as possible
And finally, if you’re in Hull, you can also get gigabit internet from KCOM.
Here’s a full list of providers we list through our broadband comparison service who offer gigabit broadband (or, at minimum, broadband of 900Mbps+):