Fibre broadband is changing the way people access the internet and transforming the telecoms industry - but has it reached your area yet?
Fibre optic broadband runs through cables in the ground made from plastic or glass, unlike its predecessor ADSL which runs over copper telephone wires.
Fibre optic delivery offers a new generation of broadband - it's quicker at carrying data than traditional copper wires, meaning you can download a song, as well as films and television programmes in no time at all.
It also tends to be more reliable - so speed should remain consistent throughout use.
Unlike ADSL, where the speed degrades the further it travels from the local telephone exchange, fibre optic broadband keeps its speed better over long distances. This means that the speed advertised is more likely to be the speed you receive.
Choosing fibre optic broadband
If you're looking for superfast broadband then the fibre optic option is the quickest on the market - it's many times faster than ADSL, allowing you to browse the internet at incredibly high speeds. Streaming videos or TV shows will be smoother - 'buffering' could be a word you'll never have to read again. If you're an online gamer, you'll notice less glitches during gaming sessions.
If you're part of a large household who all spend a lot of time online, fibre optic could be the answer to your broadband woes.
Simultaneous use of the internet across multiple devices can put a lot of strain on an ADSL wireless network, meaning browsing speeds become lethargic.
Fibre optic broadband should be able to manage multiple devices with ease, meaning you can be on a tablet, PC or mobile device and browse, stream or game simultaneously.
Be aware some packages that are advertised as fibre optic options will use both fibre and copper wire, so always check before making your final choice.
Fibre optic broadband providers
The majority of broadband providers offer fibre optic options to most areas of the UK, but the type you receive and the options available will depend on where you live.
Availability of packages
Before you consider fibre optic broadband, you'll want to find out if it's reached your area yet. Fibre optic should soon be available in every part of the UK rather than just in and around major cities and towns.
Of course, it's still likely that there'll be certain localised exceptions where service is unavailable.
Speed of fibre optic options
At the time of writing (November 2016), the most basic packages begin at 30Mbps and rise to a maximum of 120Mbps, but there are plans for future services offering 300Mbps.
Fibre optic cables transfer data more reliably that traditional copper cables, so the speed that's advertised is much more likely to be what you receive than with ADSL.
But what speed you can get depends on your area, too - you may be able to access fibre technology, but not at the top speeds.
Is it for me?
Essentially, this depends on how you use the internet. If you only go online to check emails, browse social media and shop, then standard ADSL broadband could be sufficient for your needs.
While it doesn't have to be expensive, fibre broadband does cost a bit more than ADSL.
If you need speedy downloads and quick streaming then the cost could be justified - think carefully about what broadband speed you need before deciding on a package.
Cost of fibre broadband
If you compare broadband suppliers you could find a deal suited to your budget and with the speed that you need.
Remember, like ADSL you may have to pay line rental in addition to your broadband package, but it is possible to get fibre optic broadband as a standalone option, without a phone line.
Line rental is usually included as part of a broadband bundle. If you don't want a phone line you can choose to avoid it, but you may end up paying the same amount or more anyway.
What to remember when considering fibre optic broadband
- Is fibre optic in my area yet?
- What speed can I get?
- How many devices are online in my home?
- How much does my household use the internet?
- Is my current broadband fast enough?
- Fibre optic broadband provides you with a superfast way of accessing the internet
- Think about choosing a broadband bundle which could incorporate your home phone package and digital TV
- Fibre optic is available is available throughout the UK but some more rural areas may be missing out