What is full fibre broadband?

The fastest broadband you can get

Superfast... Ultrafast... Fibre... Full Fibre...

All of these phrases get thrown around in the broadband world, but what do they actually all mean?

Over the last few years, Superfast Essex has rolled out ‘superfast’ fibre broadband, giving homes and businesses across Essex access to download speeds of at least 30Mbps. Now access to full-fibre ‘ultrafast’ broadband is on the rise. But how do the two compare?

a graphic showing ADSL, FTTP & FTTP broadband technologies

What broadband technologies are there?

ADSL is a full copper connection. Copper wiring is run from the the telephone exchange to 'street cabinets'. From here, further copper wiring takes broadband to your home. Typical download speeds for ADSL broadband are 8-10 Mbps.

Superfast broadband is a part fibre, part copper connection based on fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology. It works by running fibre optic cables from the telephone exchange to 'street cabinets' - those green boxes you may have seen on your street. From there, existing copper wires connect broadband to your home. Download speeds for superfast broadband can reach 80Mbps.

Ultrafast broadband is a full-fibre connection based on fibre-to-the-premises or home (FTTP) technology. Free from all copper, FTTP uses fibre optic cables for the entire journey from the telephone exchange to your home. Download speeds for ultrafast broadband can reach 1000Mbps.

What download speeds do I need?

There are many factors which can affect what broadband speed you should have, from how many devices you have connected to what you're doing on those devices.

Whilst you can check what broadband speeds would be appropriate for you below, if you're using multiple devices streaming TV or playing online games, you're likely going to want ultrafast broadband!

Ultrafast / Full Fibre (100+ Mbps): Enjoy high quality video calls, stream movies and shows in 4k on multiple devices at the same time, download HD boxsets, play online games upload videos to social media with no delay.

Superfast / Fibre (30 - 80 Mbps): Everyone in your household can get online at the same time, streaming shows in HD and playing games online.

ADSL (1 - 24 Mbps): Perfect for everyday browsing, sending emails and updating your favourite social media sites.

Try out Which's broadband speed test below, which suggests what broadband speeds would be best for you!

Government goals for full fibre broadband

The government wants 95% of UK homes and businesses to have access to full fibre by 2025. Across Essex commercial network providers are already upgrading existing superfast broadband to full fibre, so you may see more broadband work happening in your area, even if you can already get superfast speeds.

Superfast Essex is installing full fibre for the majority of our remaining rollout. We want to reach areas where people are still experiencing very poor speeds, and where we can, we’ll be offering the very latest FTTP technology to achieve this. Check the work happening in your area by visiting our interactive maps.