/ Technology

Would you pay extra for super-fast fibre optic broadband?

Fibre optics

If you’re looking for faster internet speeds, fibre optic could be the way to go. However, this can cost a pretty penny over your everyday ADSL connection. Would you pay extra for fibre, and if so, how much?

A fibre optic broadband contract would cost you roughly £200 more than ADSL (which runs on slower copper wires) over an 18 month period. But that doesn’t mean the speeds can’t tempt you. With ADSL you can get speeds of up to 13 megabit-per-second, but if you opt for Virgin Media’s fibre optic broadband, the theoretical top download speed is a crazy 120Mb/s.

There are also some good deals out there, with our sister blog Which? Tech Daily finding that you could save as much as £100 over an 18 month contract by switching fibre deals.

Check out Which? Tech’s handy table comparing ADSL and fibre broadband deals.

We can’t get fibre optic broadband

Of course, before we move on with this debate, it’s worth hitting this head on – not everyone can get fibre optic broadband! Here’s a comment from Simon on Tech Daily:

‘Wrong planet, chaps. Down here in West Devon we get 1.6Mb/s if it’s sunny and there’s currently no fibre option.’

Noel’s in the same boat:

‘We do not have fibre optic available and we cannot get more than 1Mb through an old copper wire ADSL system! Live in Ness Wirral. Desperate to increase but when asking for cable install date, nobody seems to know?’

Paying the price for fibre

For those who can get fibre broadband to their property, is it worth paying the extra £200 or so? Paul thinks it is:

‘I have just upgraded from Eclipse 8Mb/s ADSL to the Fiber2 Home unlimited and the difference is astounding. What used to take many days or weeks over Eclipse ADSL takes minutes.’

Brian also thinks it’s worth the extra cost:

‘I had TalkTalk’s Super Fiber broadband installed on 24 Jan 2014. I immediately got 74.5Mb/s using cable and using Wi-Fi I get 50 Mb/s on a laptop. Yes, it will cost me a little more, but after fighting for over five years at least I get a stable signal that I can use on three Computers and a Sonos radio system.’

And Simon told us on Facebook that he was lucky to get fibre for free:

‘Haggled with Sky and got fibre at no extra cost. Have gone from 5Mb/s to 30Mb/s. If you download (and  more importantly, upload) a lot, it does speed things up a great deal but for general browsing I wouldn’t pay the extra.’

Would you pay extra for fibre optic broadband? If so, by how much?


Would you pay extra for fibre optic broadband?

Nope, in-fact I have just moved from ADSL (Plusnet) to Network Three mobile broadband (unlimited data including teetering).

For me it’s all down to cost, I am saving around £10 a month from moving to mobile broadband and I can do the same as what i did before….apart from I can no longer stream on ITVPlayer due to mobile broadband being slow. But I can live without ITVPlayer.

Lee – How do you do software updates on your computer to keep it up-to-date and protected against malware using mobile broadband? I find mobile broadband on the Three network very useful but it would be expensive for me to use it for anything that involves a lot of data.

I always keep my HTC mobile plugged into my laptop via the USB lead and connected to the internet 24/7. Every few days the internet will go massively slow for maybe 30mins, but after I will get a message saying updates have been installed, then the speed is fine again. I also do avast scans etc myself weekly as normal.

I must admit, it’s not perfect. But as a money saver the savings I am making makes up or the little annoying update/speed things. Also as I have unlimited and am connected 24.7 they have started to slow me down 6.00pm – 11.00pm. But as I do most of my work overnight it does not bother me at all as the speeds seem to be faster overnight.

Thanks Lee. If your phone package offers unlimited data download there is not a cost implication.

No problem wavechange. I was in two minds about moving to Three as all I have heard is bad stuff about them. But as Three are the only mobile company to offer unlimited I gave it a chance and t worked (thank god).

PeterM says:
26 February 2014

For info… a few web sites (such as ‘ISP review .co.uk’) mention badly kept secret that the One Plan at £20 is very likely to have a 2 GB limit on traffic used via tethering, for new customers from March.

Exact date unknown but it may mean someone wanting to have 4G speeds, and “unlimited” traffic (1000 GB is a very generous limit each month), will have to get a move on to order a SIM before the new terms and conditions are in effect. Best to go into a store for anyone wanting the One Plan 12 month SIM only deal as it is at the moment with unlimited tethering.

I was lucky and got it at £15/month in late January before the price rise.

I don’t pay £20 so that might be another tariff. I pay less than that. Also I did get a phone call from the Network Three press office a few days ago due to be blogging about them / tweeting etc. I asked about this as the rumor comes and goes all the time. They have confirmed as i have a contract the T&C’s wont change, even come November 2014 when my contract is up she said as I am already a customer my new contract would have unlimited tethering too if i want it.

PeterM says:
26 February 2014

It’s the same plan as you have, but the monthly price went up at the end of January from £15, which was their charge during the second half of 2013. Monthly price went down from £25 in July last year, but with the new “no price increases during the fixed term of a contract” rule from OFCOM, it looks as if they decided they would simply push up the price for all NEW contracts from 30-01-2014.

The change from “unlimited tethering” to one where the quantity of data is severely restricted is just about to hit NEW customers.

I felt it was worth pointing out for other readers NOW, so if they had seen your comment and were considering a change to Three, they’d at least get the deal now before it disappears (and for all I know, might never return at this price level, in the future).

Sometimes when a firm provides a deal that’s very good for consumers, they later backtrack if their profits are too low (ie if not costing them money, then they may only just be breaking even and the product is seen as being ‘too generous’ to customers).

At the £15 price, for unlimited data, with tethering, and offering 4G service whenever that serves a customer in the future, it was a really superb deal.

Bumping the cost up and then restricting the data allowance (for tethering only), seem to be two quite significant changes in quick succession, and only those who knew what was available at £15 last year, and had previously been £25, will know what the new customers are going to be missing, even though it now costs £20 for the 12 month SIM Only ‘One Plan’.

I don’t have that plan Peter, I’m not sure why you think I do?

I get 6,000mins 5,000 txt’s, unlimited data including teetering plus 5,000 Three to Three mins for £13.90 a month. But as I fear the number 13 i round it to 15 when I talk about it.

Love the “TEETERING” bit word as I once unfortunately had a deal with ‘3’ with my mobile broadband ‘TETHERING’ to my laptop for broadband.. IT WAS HUMONGUSTLY AWFULL! I nearly “TEETERED AT THE BRINK OF DISPAIR with that ‘3 CONTRACT’ !

Yes I do have a problem with my spelling. But no need to take the p*ss David. We are all grown up people here.

I would pay a bit more for fibre internet, but only if I didn’t have to take a pointless phone line with it. I already have a virtual fixed line (with a London 020 number) which costs me nothing, so I’m fed up with having to waste money on a physical phone line that I don’t want or need. The internet used to run over phone lines, but now it’s the other way round in that phone lines are increasingly running over the internet, so the requirement to have a fixed line seems very antiquated.

PeterM says:
23 February 2014

Sorry, how is the phone line “pointless” ? As you probably know (but not everyone does, including, perhaps, the author of the piece, when comparing with “copper”), the majority of “fibre” connections are only using fibre optic connection to an additional street cabinet (in areas where they have been installed, they can be distinguished by having a warning sticker about mains voltage inside, and have air ventilation grilles on them… many also have a sticker about ‘superfast fibre has arrived’ or similar wording… sorry not popping outside to read what it says right now).

The data is then fed over the copper wiring, which until recent years carried just the voice calls, but now, because the cabinet is relatively close to the customer, compared with the exchange, there is less of a speed drop from the cabinet to their home.

If you want fibre direct to your home, and live in an area where this is possible, get your order in fast as it’s taking weeks for some new installations but when you do place an order, you will think the cost of this “useless” copper phone line rather cheap. Fibre direct to your home, from May 1st 2014, will cost the ISP (so there’s room for a markup from these figures) around £1000 to £2500 for installation, and would have a 3 year minimum contract at £99 / month. Quite a high cost (that pricing relates to the 330 Mbps fibre product).

The data in fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) still needs that phone line to your home, and the low line rental (of under 8 pounds wholesale) is primarily for the maintenance of the exchange, poles, and copper, so it works even if there’s a local power failure. The extra charges, for calls packages, VAT and profit, are whatever the firms can get away with. Personally I’m paying Primus £5.99 a month (with no ‘included’ calls) and am happy with that for being able to use the internet 24×7 and be able to take/ make calls as well.

I am happy with my 7Mbps because the connection speed is remarkably stable throughout the week. Sometimes I have to upload large files to a server. It does not matter that this is slow because I can get on with other tasks at the same time.

I don’t have a choice with ISP and the tariff is expensive but it has helped to have a contract covering both phone and broadband. Having a landline is vital for me. I did look at including mobile broadband in my contract but this was more expensive than arranging this separately and did not give me a choice of network.

I have just moved from Zen ADSL (£20/month) to BT fibre (£23/month). This is mainly because we want to get TV shows over the internet. My download speed has ‘only’ gone from 6Mb to 14Mb however most important is I have gone from 200Gb cap to unlimited downloads. A word of warning – customer support with BT is dreadful (in fact, I originally chose Zen due to bad experiences with Orange). I had a faulty faceplate installed by BT, every time the phone rang, the broadband crashed. It took 10 days and several long phone calls to call centres in India to convince them to send an engineer to fix the problem. Since then things are fine.

I can only get 1.5Mb as I’m the furthest away from the BT exchange so opting for Virgin cable was a no brainer as I now get 20Mb. I cannot understand why Which reports don’t differentiate between Cable and Copper as speed is essential for streaming

Would be happy with FTTC for <£25 pm if unlimited.
At present sync at 20Mbps and get 18Mbps with no dips at peak time for £20pm on ADSL2 +.
The higher upload speed would be useful at times.

I do share my connection with neighbours though.

I occasionally use online players for programmes I’ve missed. Tempting as it sounds, just like broadband was back in the day!….won’t use it till is a necessity.
Now feel broadband has become common place (Old dial up)service and all being pushed to get fibre optic broadband! It has its benefits most definately!……but dont fix what isn’t broke!

Derek Putley says:
22 February 2014

My house recieves at least 2 mailshots each month imploring the occupant (i.e. me) to take out a Virgin subscription.

After moving in, I managed on mobile broadband for a time and then moved the PlusNet subscription from my old house.

Actually I would not have had to pay any more if I had wanted to use the faster Virgin service. But I am simply horrified by the amount of money they must be wasting on all their mailshots, so I concluded that taking up their offer would be tantamount to rewarding bad behaviour.

PeterM says:
23 February 2014

I will be moving to fibre at some point, though currently disappointed to find that because of the distance from the cabinet which serves my street, it will be at half the speed (33.5 Mbps estimate) compared with a shop I can see from the back of my house on the other side of the road… the fibre cabinet serving them is 30-40 feet from my window, on my side of the main road.

Price-wise I currently spend about £11 a month for the phone line and unlimited broadband (line rental is £5.99 a month, broadband is meant to be £9.99 a month but having been with Plus.Net for years and recommended it, I get commission discount of £5.50 a month. If I managed to get 2,000 people to switch it would offer me an income of around £1,000 a month and easily pay for my broadband, energy bills, etc.

Comparing services, I am quite seriously looking at alternatives to Plus.Net. I feel there is no point getting their ‘unlimited’ account (which is also offering ‘up to 76 Mbps’ but clearly impossible at my location, when another firm charges £16/month for unlimited data on an ‘up to 38 Mbps’ service.

For people switching to fibre services, and changing ISPs, there are some good deals on, however, so someone moving to Plus.Net might get over £80 cashback AND pay less (currently £12.50 for first 9 months of 18 month minimum contract), but as an existing customer I cannot get the cashback, and would be unlikely to get such a good reduction (no matter I’ve been a customer for nearly 11 years). Watch out for the silly line rental fees though – some firms have scrapped their annual line rental discounts and now charge about £15/month line rental, so even if the internet cost is a good deal, they hit you with the ‘mandatory’ line rental from them.

Yebow says:
15 May 2014

I am a Customer of Virgin Media for the last 10 years. From the beginning I told them I don’t want phone line and TV Channels, (I am with BT customer for 40 years and Sky 12 years)but they convinced me and I had it for paying extra few £’s for all those years.
Every year the increased their prices upto £40 a month for providing me ONLY 20MB, I recently complaint them and they increase 30MB for £24.99, but they still charging me £27.99 . I had a Contract document from them and when I explained, they ignored and telling me that this was mistake.

It’s like spitting into the wind trying to get reliable broadband here in North Devon. We pay the same here in Devon for an inferior service (0.2mpbs up to 2.1 mpbs) compared to our children’s internet service (with the same company 17.0 to 21 mpbs) in South London. Where is the fairness in that?
We suggest that the companies that charge different rates for different speeds (minimum speed) would see growth in interest from fellow rural sufferers and it might be a kick up the backside for the larger companies who are raking it in taking our money and not providing the equivalent service. Which company will take up this challenge? How do you bring about change? The Government needs to get on top of BT Open Reach, businesses in rural areas are suffering. Why can’t we have differential pricing for differential speeds?! We claim that it would be commercially viable and morally correct.