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FTTP and FTTC: what’s the difference?

Not all fibre broadband is created equal. This much you probably already know. But it's not the whole story...

What you may not know is just how much faster a fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband is than a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) service.

And more importantly, how it could transform the quality of your broadband and your home-entertainment and home-working experience. 

Read on and we'll explain all. 

What is fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband is a catch-all term that encompasses a few different types of broadband bundles. Principally these are FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) and FTTP (fibre to the premises).

What defines all kinds of fibre broadband is that a fibre optic cable is the key component of how it’s delivered to your home.

But as we’ll see with some categories of fibre broadband, a fibre optic cable is only delivers your broadband some of the way. While in others, fibre cabling is used for the entire journey.

How much of the route to your address is covered by a fibre optic cable is critical in determining how fast your broadband will be.

What is FTTC broadband?

laptop in use, typing hands

FTTC stands for fibre to the cabinet broadband, which is the most widely available type of fibre broadband. Over 90% of premises can get FTTC in some form.

With FTTC, a fibre optic cable is solely used to transmit data from your provider to the telephone cabinet in your area.

The so-called ‘last leg’ of the journey from the cabinet to your home/premises is covered by copper wire, which isn’t as efficient at transmitting data.

Consequently, while FTTC broadband is faster than standard standard broadband, it’s nothing like as fast as FTTP. Which uses fibre cables and only fibre cables for the entire way. 

What is FTTP broadband?

FTTP, which is also sometimes known as ‘fibre to the home’ or ‘full fibre’, is a newer form of fibre broadband than FTTC.

The key difference is that with FTTP a fibre optic cable goes directly from your provider to your home, bypassing the cabinet along the way. Unlike FTTC, less efficient copper wire infrastructure plays no part.

The upshot is that FTTP delivers much, much faster speeds than FTTC.

Of course, there’s a catch. The downside of FTTP is that although availability is improving, it’s currently only on offer in a relatively small range of locations. And these are almost all large towns and cities.

Keen to find out more about all the types of fibre broadband? Read our one-stop guide to fibre. 

What speeds can I get with FTTC and FTTP?

That’s the 64,000-dollar question. Because download speeds are what really, really differentiates FTTC from FTTP.

The most widely available FTTC broadband products typically get you average speeds of 35-38Mbps for a budget-priced service. If you’re prepared to spend a bit more, you can expect average speeds of 65-67Mbps.

FTTP broadband is several leagues faster. How much faster, though?

Well, by way of example TalkTalk’s 150 Full Fibre and Fibre 500 Full Fibre products, which come under TalkTalk’s Future Fibre umbrella brand, get you average speeds of 147Mbps and 506Mbps respectively. The difference really is night and day.

Upload speeds are better with FTTC too. Which, as we’ll see, is a major advantage for home workers.

How do faster FTTP speeds affect my internet experience?

Red Dead Redemption 2

In a nutshell, you’ll be able to do a lot of things much, much faster.

Let’s say you want you to download an epic PS4 game, such as Red Dead Redemption 2. That’s a big file.

With a standard 35Mbps service it could take the best part of seven hours. A long wait when you’re keen to start gaming.

But let’s say you’ve got TalkTalk’s 150 Full Fibre service. In that case, you’ll likely be up and running in a shade over an hour and a half.

And if you’ve got the 500Mbps service it’ll take just 28 minutes or so, before you’re free to roam the Old West, eking out a living by robbing railroad magnates and knocking back moonshine.

Of course, you’ll be able to download 4K and 8K Ultra HD movies quickly too. Which is a boon for cinephiles.

But that’s not all. An FTTP service is also great for really busy households, such as student houses or large family homes. Especially those where everyone is a heavy internet user and is often online simultaneously.

So you can expect buttery smooth streaming, even if everyone in your home is watching TV or playing games online simultaneously.

Faster upload speeds are a game-changer too

FTTP is significantly better if you work from home regularly. Because upload speeds are so much faster with FTTP, you can back up and share files faster. And generally get more accomplished in your working day.

Because better upload speeds minimise delays to responsiveness means you can also look forward to zippier online gaming. 

And as all weekend warriors know that could be the difference between life and death when you’re under fire in trenches on Call of Duty: Vanguard.

What's more it’ll mean you get a less clunky, less stilted video calling experience too, with none of the buffering that can be Kryptonite for conversation.

What are the pros and cons of FTTP and FTTC?

FTTP pros

  • Broadband speeds are incredibly fast. Think: up to a lightning quick 1Gbps
  • Upload speeds are impressive too. Which makes for more responsive gaming and more efficient home working
  • Won’t cost you much more than FTTP
  • No need to take a landline with your broadband if you don’t want one

FTTP cons

  • Only available in select locations. Mostly big towns and cities
  • Some households don’t really require FTTP speeds. So you may be paying for a turbo-charged service you don’t need

FTTC pros

  • Very widely available. And from a wide selection of providers
  • Download speeds are ample for most households
  • Cheaper than FTTP. So it’s a good bet if you’re on a pretty tight budget
  • Installation very unlikely to require an engineer visit

FTTC cons

  • Speeds are a fraction of FTTP
  • Some providers offer FTTC without a landline
  • Upload speeds are slow compared to FTTP
  • Your home’s distance from the cabinet will affect your speeds

How much is FTTP?

Not anything like as much as you might suppose. Especially when you consider the speed upgrade you’re getting for the extra outlay.

For example, at the time of writing TalkTalk is offering FTTC in the form of its Fibre 35 package for £23 per month. That’s a good price for average speeds of 38Mbps.

But TalkTalk’s Fibre 150 Full Fibre gets you average speeds almost four times faster than Fibre 35 and 13 times faster than regular FTTC broadband.

Better still, it works out at a still-pretty-wallet-friendly £32 per month.

Can I get FTTP where I live?

Good question. The best and most sure-fire way to find out is to use our availability checker. Just pop in your postcode and we’ll do the rest.

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