Fibre is the new premium standard in broadband. But with speeds seemingly dependent on whether your fibre goes to the cabinet, your home or somewhere in between, does fibre really mean fibre?
Broadband advertising is confusing. That’s something we’ve been banging on about for a while. So it’s good to see the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) consulting on how providers advertise ‘up to’ speeds to customers, and it’s something Which? will be responding to.
But here is another thing that might add to the confusion, especially if you are not a telecoms nerd like myself. It’s the meaning of fibre and how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use it in their advertisements.
Faster with more fibre
When a prospective customer sees a broadband advert boasting about ‘ultra, hyper, super-douper fast [insert superlative and superlative] fibre’, do they realise that, in most cases, at least some of their connection will be made up of traditional telephone line copper wiring?
There are a number of ways in which you can get your property connected. In many instances a provider will bring the optical cable as far as the cabinet box and then, depending on how far from the cabinet you live, some other form of cabling will connect the cabinet to your property. It could be copper cabling or some other technology. This is called Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC).
Depending on where you live, some providers may provide a full fibre connection to the home, meaning the cable runs directly into your home. This is called Fibre to the Home (FTTH), or Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). At the moment, around 2% of UK homes have access to full Fibre to the Home and a very small number of altnets (alternative ISPs like Hyperoptic and Gigaclear) offer it.
At present, Virgin Media is the only provider running a slightly different operation. It’s coax-fibre hybrid network (bear with us) uses Fibre-to-the-Cabinet before a coaxial cable takes the connection to your home. Coaxial blocks interference better than standard phone lines allowing Virgin to run faster internet services.
What type of fibre connection do you have?
Fibre to the Cabinet (61%, 637 Votes)
Don't know (21%, 221 Votes)
Fibre to the Home (18%, 190 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,048
Speed begins where fibre ends
Now what difference does an FTTH connection make? Well, speed is important and the more fibre you have in your broadband connection the higher the likelihood you’ll be enjoying faster broadband.
A fibre to the home connection should mean the speed you pay for and the speed you actually get are closer than if you have a ‘to the Cabinet’ connection. So if you’re paying for 1Gb, you’ll more than likely get 1Gb if you have an FTTH connection, or at least it should be in the same ballpark.
So is fibre really fibre if it doesn’t run all the way to your home? Do you think its fair to call an internet connection fibre when it might not be full fibre? We’d love to hear your views below.