This page describes the latest developments in broadband to bring faster speeds to the UK. These may already be available in your area! A complex combination of commercial deployment of fibre broadband (by BT) and cable broadband (by Virgin Media) and public subsidy by the UK Government and local authorities has substantially increased the availability of faster broadband across the UK. While superfast fibre broadband (with download speeds greater than 24Mbps) is now available to the vast majority of premises, there is still much work to do to deploy ultrafast broadband (with download speeds greater than 100 Mbps) on a widespread basis.
Standard broadband is now too slow for many services
Standard broadband is known as ADSL. While ADSL can potentially deliver download speeds up to 24 Mbps (for premises very close to the BT exchange), speeds are usually significantly less due to the distance between you and the exchange. Typically, standard broadband delivers download speeds of a few Mbps. Upload speeds are typically limited to less than 1 Mbps. Unless you have no choice, we strongly recommend that you opt for much faster superfast fibre broadband or ultrafast broadband. Otherwise, many services such as streaming TV services (e.g. Netflix) will not be accessible to you reliably and in their best quality mode. Also, if you have multiple devices or people in your household, standard broadband will be a significant bottleneck.
Faster broadband provides substantial benefits for both consumers and businesses. Click on the following link for an assessment of the benefits of high-speed broadband:
Superfast fibre broadband delivers download speeds over 30 Mbps
Over the last few years, BT has been rolling out fibre broadband (called FTTC – Fibre to the Cabinet) across the UK. It is now available to nearly 28 million premises. While fibre broadband is capable of delivering download speeds of about 80 Mbps, as described in our What is Fibre Broadband page, exact speeds are dependent on the distance between you and your local green BT street cabinet. So, the fastest speeds are only available if you are located very close to the street cabinet. Fibre broadband generally delivers sufficient speeds for most households currently. If you subscribe to standard broadband and your area has been upgraded to superfast broadband, you will not automatically be upgraded. You need to proactively upgrade.
Ultrafast broadband delivers speeds in excess of 100 Mbps
Ultrafast broadband, which delivers download speeds over 100 Mbps, is delivered by one of three technologies: G.fast, cable (Virgin) or FTTP (Fibre to the Premises). These technologies are described in our What is Fibre Broadband and What is G.fast pages. FTTP and cable are capable of delivering gigabit download speeds (> 1 Gbps) and are sometimes referred to as ‘gigabit broadband’. Several operators are rolling out FTTP, including BT Openreach, CityFibre and Hyperoptic.
BT’s ultrafast broadband network now covers 4.2 million premises, comprising 1.8 million premises passed with FTTP and 2.4 million with G.fast. BT Openreach is currently committed to reach 4 million premises with FTTP by March 2021, and to reach 15 million premises by the mid-2020s.
Broadband has become central to the General Election campaigns of the Conservative and Labour parties. If elected, the Conservative Party is planning to spend £5 billion to bring gigabit broadband to all of the UK by 2025. If elected, the Labour Party intends to bring gigabit broadband to all of the UK by 2030. Watch this space!
We recommend ultrafast broadband if you have several people in your home using services such as video streaming services or you are only able to access slow speeds (30 Mbps or less) using fibre broadband. If ultrafast broadband is now available in your area, please note that you will not automatically be upgraded. You have to proactively upgrade.