Want to know more about the broadband available in your area? This guide will tell you all you need to know about the different types of broadband available to your postcode –– including fibre broadband –– as well as the different providers you could choose and the right broadband deals for you.
The majority of home broadband connections will be either fibre-optic, cable broadband, or an older copper phone line connection called ADSL. ADSL and fibre are available to the vast majority of UK homes.
- ADSL broadband: the slowest broadband network that's still widely-available, serviced through the UK's copper phone line network that reaches 99% of the country.
- Superfast fibre broadband: supplied by a fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connection and available to over 95% of the UK.
- Cable broadband: also widely-available, but only around 52% since it's currently only offered by Virgin Media.
- Full fibre broadband: the fastest type of broadband you can get, offering gigabit speeds. It has a limited but growing availability, currently at 18% UK coverage.
If you're unsure about what broadband is available in your area, you should use a broadband availability checker to see whether you can get fibre in your area.
What broadband can I get?
To find out what broadband is available to you, use the Uswitch broadband postcode checker to see which packages and speeds are in operation in your area.
Postcode availability isn't always a guarantee that your home can get a certain type of broadband. To make the process easier, we recently rolled out a brand new, more accurate broadband checker, which tells you the speeds and deals you can get at your address, not just your local area. Try our Broadband Network Checker for more bespoke results.
By switching broadband, you could significantly boost your connection speed and, if you're currently out-of-contract, save money too. Checking your postcode can help you find a better broadband package that's right for you.
How fast is the broadband speed in my area?
You can visit our broadband speed test page to compare your current connection against the available deals in your area, and to see if you're getting the speeds you're paying for.
Some out-of-contract customers on slower ADSL speeds might be paying more for their broadband than new customers with much faster fibre speeds, so it’s always worth checking if you could save money, or just find a better deal, by switching your broadband provider.
This is the most widely-available type of broadband connection, but it's also the oldest and slowest. ADSL runs on existing Openreach phone lines so it can potentially reach over 99% of UK homes. The data runs from telephone exchanges along copper telephone lines and into your home.
Due to the use of different frequencies, it is possible to use both telephone and internet at the same time on the same line — unlike the old days of dial-up internet.
Regular ADSL provides average broadband speeds around 10Mbps or 11Mbps, making it a good choice for smaller homes with only a few connected devices. However, many fibre packages are priced very similarly to ADSL deals nowadays, so you might benefit from much faster speeds for a very small difference in cost.
Fibre broadband in my area
Instead of copper wires, fibre broadband connections rely on fibre-optic cables for some, or all, of the connection. These fibre-optic cables can transmit data much faster, hence the boost in broadband speed.
There are several types of fibre broadband connections, and the type that you have determines the speeds you can expect.
The most widely-available is known as fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which uses fibre-optic cables from the provider's broadband exchange to the green cabinets you see on your street. The rest of the connection then relies on the same copper wires as ADSL, making it faster than purely copper connections, but still slower than 'full fibre', or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).
FTTC broadband is available to around 95% of UK premises, so there's a very good chance it'll be available to your home. Try our fibre broadband checker to see if you have access to a fibre-optic connection.
What is full fibre / FTTP broadband?
Full fibre broadband, also known as fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), uses fibre-optic cables for the entire connection from the provider directly into your home. As of the end of 2020, full fibre is still the least-available option for fixed-line broadband in the UK, available to just 18% of homes across the country.
However, there has been significant government and private investment in rapidly increasing access to full fibre broadband in the coming years, especially with projects like Project Gigabit. In order to bring the UK in line with other countries throughout Europe, network providers are adding thousands of homes to their network every month.
So full fibre broadband might be more available than you think. In fact, one quarter of UK premises now have access to some form of gigabit internet (1Gbps), so it's certainly worth checking to see if you can get it.
Can I get fibre broadband?
It's a common misconception that fibre is expensive and hard to get. It's true that full fibre or FTTP connections are limited in availability (for now), but fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connections –– often referred to as "superfast broadband" –– are currently available to over 95% of the UK and are priced very similar to ADSL.
Average fibre broadband speeds range from 35Mbps to 67Mbps for fibre-to-the-cabinet connections and can reach over 1Gbps (1000Mbps) for full fibre. This makes fibre an excellent choice for larger families, households that have a lot of connected devices, online gamers, or people who stream a lot of TV, music or films.
Fibre broadband checker
Take a look at our fibre broadband deals to find out which providers offer fibre-optic broadband in your area.
Openreach fibre broadband
Openreach, formerly called BT Openreach but still owned by BT Group, is by far the largest broadband network in the UK. The majority of homes rely on the Openreach network, as it is the only supplier of copper-based ADSL and fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband — both of which take up the vast majority of connections in the country.
It also has a growing full fibre (or fibre-to-the-premises) network where certain customers can access ultrafast BT FTTP deals, but there is a lot more competition amongst other providers for this type of connection than there is for the slower, more widely-available types.
Virgin Media cable broadband
Virgin Media offers ultrafast cable broadband, which is different from fibre in a few key ways. While it also uses fibre-optic cables from its exchange to each local street cabinet, it then uses its own 'coaxial' cables to finish the journey to your home.
This means Virgin Media is also capable of delivering very fast broadband speeds — currently ranging from 54Mbps to 600Mbps across the UK, and up to 1Gbps speeds in key locations.
Because it isn't part of the Openreach network, Virgin Media has its own infrastructure — which is why its availability is a bit more limited, at around 52% of UK premises. However, Virgin Media is available in more areas than full fibre, so if you're looking for speeds faster than 67Mbps, it's worth checking to see if Virgin Media broadband deals are available in your area.
4G and 5G mobile broadband
If you can't get access to the broadband speeds you want with a fixed-line connection, you might find a better option with mobile broadband. These services still provide a router like normal broadband providers, but those routers will connect to the internet via a 4G (or 5G if available) mobile network instead.
This is a great option for those who want the speeds fibre broadband can offer but for whatever reason can't get a fibre cable installed into their home.
4G is now widely available across the UK and can offer average speeds of around 24Mbps. And 5G, while currently mainly available to urban areas, can provide speeds up to and beyond 300Mbps.