What are the various broadband technologies?

Technologies used by Superfast Essex

Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)

FTTC involves new fibre cables being installed from the exchange to a green street cabinet. Existing copper then runs from the cabinet to the property. FTTC is capable of providing speeds up to 80Mbps, but speeds will start to deteriorate the further away from the cabinet the properties are located. 

Fibre to the premises (FTTP)

FTTP, also known as full fibre or ultrafast broadband is a pure fibre connection which runs directly from an exchange to the property. Both Openreach and Gigaclear are working with Superfast Essex to install FTTP broadband networks. This type of connection can provide ultrafast speeds up to 1GB.

Other Technologies

Standard broadband (ADSL2+)

Traditional broadband, known as ADSL2+ (asymmetric digital subscriber line) is delivered via copper telephone lines. According to Ofcom, download speeds for ADSL2+ in Essex average 9.7Mbps. ADSL2+ is the widest available broadband option in the country but speeds reduce the further you work from your local exchange.

Dedicated leased line

If your business needs greater and reliable speeds (both upload and download); must be online and operational 24/7; has multiple employees or customers using the network or has employees based at multiple locations, you may find that a Dedicated Leased Line is the way to go. Leased Line services are a lot more expensive than fibre broadband because they provide a dedicated line just for your business, meaning it will not get affected at peak times or by increased demand from other customers. However, with this option you get much higher speeds, better reliability and more comprehensive support options.

Wireless

Wireless solutions provide an alternative to or an extension of a wired network. A wireless network is only wireless at the final stage (known as the “last mile”). Last mile refers to the technology that carries signals from the exchange – the “last mile” – to and from your business. Wireless connectivity can be provided so long as you have clear line of sight. Upload and download speeds of up to 50Mbps can be achieved.

Satellite

Satellite options use a satellite dish to provide two-way access to broadband services. Satellite can now offer download speeds of up to 20Mbps. The main advantage of satellite broadband is that it can be provided virtually anywhere, so long as you have a clear line of sight. Because of this, it can be affected by the weather as moisture in rain can cause errors on the link. A general rain shower shouldn’t affect things but a large storm could cause disruption. Satellite services also tend to have more stringent monthly download caps and latency (a signal delay due to distance) so this can make activities like video conferencing difficult. Also, some applications may not function at the optimum broadband speed as a result of the timing delays.

Mobile

Mobile broadband can be used not just on your phone, but on laptops, tablets and other wireless devices too – wherever there’s a strong enough mobile signal. 3G is currently sold with a maximum download speed of 7.2Mbps and is available to 79% of premises and 61% of roads in Essex. 4G averages speeds of 8 – 12Mbps but as it is relatively new, it’s only currently available to 20% of premises and 16% of roads in Essex. However, Ofcom expect that 4G coverage will quickly overtake 3G and provide a substantial improvement in the availability of mobile broadband.

5G

5G is the new generation of wireless technology. It follows previous generations of mobile technology such as 3G and 4G. Some mobile firms have started to launch 5G services, with others set to follow. Whilst Essex County Council does not have any 5G plans, we are engaging with the industry to understand what we can do to support the rollout of 5G, particularly in rural areas.