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What is full fibre, and is it available to you?

Find out all you need to know about full fibre broadband, including how to check whether it's available in your area.
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Full fibre is the next generation of broadband. It provides the fastest internet speeds available in the UK, and offers the most consistent, reliable connection.

With full fibre broadband, common internet frustrations like buffering and outages will be almost nonexistent. And data-hungry activities like 4K streaming or online gaming will be ultra-smooth, even if multiple people are doing it at the same time.

The technology is set to future-proof homes and businesses across the country because, once it’s installed nationwide, homes won’t need to install new cables for their broadband for decades.

Find out what makes full fibre so useful and what you’ll be able to do with the speeds it supplies.

Full fibre broadband explained

Full fibre is a fibre-optic broadband connection that goes directly to your property. It’s also referred to as ‘fibre-to-the-premises’ (FTTP).

Historically, broadband connections have still largely relied on copper phone lines to get to your property. That’s because, to get fibre cables to each individual home and office, providers need to dig up almost every residential street in the country.

Superfast fibre broadband has technically been available in most of the UK for more than a decade, but these connections are only partial-fibre. And while the speeds they offer are enough for many households right now, they soon won’t be able to handle our increasing demand for data.

As a result, broadband providers are now ramping up their efforts to connect fibre cables to as many properties as possible. The speed upgrade this offers is significant and will cover internet demand in our homes and offices for decades to come.

What’s the difference between superfast fibre and full fibre?

The word 'superfast' sounds like it should mean the fastest, but it's actually a slightly outdated term. Find out the difference between this older type of fibre broadband and the newer, much faster, full fibre.

Superfast

illustration of how superfast partial-fibre broadband works

Superfast (or partial) fibre broadband is currently the most popular type of broadband in the UK. Run by Openreach, it’s available to over 96% of the country.

It’s referred to as ‘partial-fibre’ because only part of the connection relies on fibre-optic cables. They stretch all the way to your local street cabinet, while the rest of the journey to your home uses the same copper phone lines as your landline.

Superfast broadband is a lot faster than fully-copper ADSL broadband, with average speeds between 30-70Mbps, compared to ADSL’s 10Mbps. But because it can only connect fibre cables to the local street cabinet, there is a big drop-off in speed once the copper cables take over the rest of the journey.

Full fibre

illustration of how full fibre broadband works

Full fibre, as the name suggests, connects fibre cables straight to your home. This means there’s no slowdown of the data between the street cabinet and your property and the internet speed (and strength) is a lot better as a result.

These connections can provide a wide range of very fast internet packages, depending on how much you’re willing to pay. Ultrafast full fibre providers supply speeds from around 100Mbps and higher, whereas the fastest full fibre speeds can reach 1Gbps and above.

It also means you can connect to the internet without needing a landline, too. So you won’t have to pay for a phone line that you rarely use.

What do these speeds mean?

Mbps stands for megabits per second, which is the most common way of measuring internet speed.

An average household speed of 10Mbps is what we call standard. Nowadays, it might be enough to handle one or two people using the internet for small tasks, like social media scrolling or watching the odd Netflix movie. But it can’t really handle more internet demand than that, especially when three or more people are using the same internet connection.

Superfast speeds of 30-70Mbps mean you can reliably work from home or game competitively online. And more than one person will be able to stream movies or TV shows at the same time.

But 100Mbps - 1Gbps speeds is quickly becoming the speed most households will start needing in the coming years. With the quality of TV shows and video games getting better, smart home devices on the rise and a new way of hybrid working between the office and home, full fibre connections with these speeds are growing in popularity.

For more guidance on what internet speeds mean, take a look at our bits and bytes guide.

image of fibre-optic cables outside

How does full fibre broadband work?

Full fibre is a lot simpler than other types of fixed broadband. With no street cabinet to get in the way, it’s a straightforward case of fibre cables connecting directly from your provider’s exchange to your property.

Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to explain how it works:

  • The internet data you need is received by your provider at its broadband exchange

  • The data is sent at lightspeed via your provider’s fibre-optic cable network

  • The data arrives at your home, where it’s sent out from your router’s Wi-Fi signal to your device

This is why full fibre is the gold standard of broadband. Not only is it significantly faster than partial-fibre, but it also completely simplifies the network.

Plus, once fibre cables are installed in every property, speed upgrades in the future will be much easier to roll out as well. So by the time households will eventually need faster speeds than 1Gbps, the process of speeding up the network will be relatively painless. Especially compared to the huge operation that providers are currently rolling out.

Learn more about the different types of broadband in the UK.

Full fibre deals on Uswitch.com

If you’re wondering whether there’s full fibre broadband in your area, our fibre deals tables should give you a clear idea of what’s available to you.

Check your address on our dedicated fibre page to see if you can get FTTP deals where you live.

Our cheapest full fibre deals

Full fibre deals are usually a bit more expensive than superfast fibre deals, but it depends on which provider you’re looking at.

If you’re looking for the cheap full fibre, TalkTalk and Vodafone offer FTTP deals at very reasonable prices — even cheaper than other providers’ superfast offers.

The cheapest full fibre broadband options will probably come in the form of social tariffs, which are only available to customers who receive Universal Credit. Check our broadband social tariffs guide to see if you’re eligible for any of those.

Otherwise, it’s likely best to view our cheapest fibre broadband deals on Uswitch.

man smiling at his laptop at home

Which providers offer FTTP deals?

There are a growing number of full fibre broadband providers in the UK. That includes larger providers who are expanding their offerings to include it, as well as smaller providers who focus solely on FTTP connections.

All of the major broadband providers offer full fibre deals, but they all rely on the same network like they do for superfast connections. BT, Sky and Plusnet use Openreach’s growing FTTP network, whereas TalkTalk and Vodafone use a network called Cityfibre.

Smaller providers like Hyperoptic, Community Fibre and Gigaclear operate on their own networks. They’re available to fewer properties for now, but are also expanding to more and more properties each month.

Full fibre from the UK's biggest providers

BT full fibre

BT offers a full fibre broadband service through the Openreach FTTP network. With ultrafast speeds ranging from 100Mbps to 900Mbps, the provider has a number of options for those that can access these speeds.

BT full fibre prices usually range from just over £30 per month to over £50 per month, depending on the speed you choose.

TalkTalk full fibre

TalkTalk’s FTTP deals are available on the Cityfibre network, which runs separately to Openreach and also services providers like Vodafone.

Characteristically for the good-value provider, it offers very reasonable prices on its full fibre deals, including a 145Mbps connection for well under £30 per month.

Sky full fibre

Similar to its superfast fibre deals, Sky’s full fibre connections use Openreach’s network to reach the home. It offers three different speeds - ‘Ultrafast’ at 145Mbps, ‘Ultrafast Plus at 500Mbps’, and a new ‘Gigafast’ connection at 900Mbps.

Its prices are a little higher than the likes of TalkTalk, Plusnet and Vodafone. But with Sky Broadband, you’ll get discounted access to the Sky Q pay-TV service. So if you watch a lot of TV, you could still save money with Sky.

Does Virgin offer full fibre?

Virgin Media operates on its own cable network. While it’s a lot faster than superfast fibre, it’s not technically ‘full fibre’ either.

But you can still enjoy speeds up to 1Gbps with Virgin, just like you can with other providers’ full fibre deals. And it offers more speed options above 100Mbps than other providers too. So if you’re looking for a more customised package, Virgin Media may have what you need.

Want to browse full fibre deals from more providers? Take a look at our range of fibre-optic broadband deals, select ‘100+ Mb’ in the filters section and find out if you can access any FTTP services.

Do I need full fibre broadband?

Most people can get away without full fibre broadband right now. Superfast fibre usually provides enough internet speed for a family to do all they need online without any issues. And at the moment, it’s cheaper than most full fibre plans.

However, this might change in a few years for two reasons:

  • The internet speed households need will continue to rise, as the activities we do require more data to be sent to our devices.

  • The copper phone line network is getting quite old, and its reliability is getting worse. So even if households don’t necessarily need ultrafast speeds, a network based on full fibre will ensure a much stronger connection in the future.

Essentially, unless you’re in a busy household with lots of people gaming, streaming, or working at the same time, you probably don’t need to pay for ultrafast full fibre speeds. But you might find that in a few years, once full fibre is a lot more established across the country, it’ll be worth choosing an FTTP plan.

man smiling at his laptop while switching broadband

Can I get full fibre?

Currently, full fibre is only available to 33% of the UK. But given how hard it is to install fibre cables at every property, its coverage is growing at an impressive pace — roughly 5% every few months.

And given the UK government’s pledge to connect full fibre to 85% of properties by the end of 2025, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get full fibre in the next few years.

But since one-third of the country can access an FTTP connection already, you might be one of the lucky ones who can get it now.

How to check if FTTP broadband is in your area

You’ll need to put your address into a full fibre checker to see if it’s available in your area.

Providers are working hard to expand their FTTP networks across the country, and they quickly update their address logs once they’ve finished installing fibre cables in a new location. So make sure you regularly check your address to see if it’s available yet.

You may also receive a communication from your provider if full fibre networks are being installed in your neighbourhood. These messages will often come with a rough timeline, so that might help you find out when it’ll be ready for you.

If you’re moving to a new area, it’d be worth checking the availability in your new address. Find out all you need to do with your broadband when moving house.

When is full fibre coming to my area?

It’s hard to find out when specific areas will get full fibre, but various networks have coverage maps that detail whereabouts they are installing — or planning to install — FTTP in the coming years.

Put your postcode in one of these maps to see if full fibre is in scope for your neighbourhood:

Browse our range of fibre-optic deals

Choose between hundreds of broadband deals on Uswitch.com

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