Read this: Do I need fibre optic broadband? - Broadband reviews - Computing - Which? Technology
Summary: Are the increasing number of fibre optic broadband packages over-priced and over-hyped, or the only way to stay connected We ask whether superfast fibre optic internet is really worth the extra cost, or if your best bet is to stick with the cheaper option of an ADSL connection, at least until prices for fibre start to fall. Find out what noticeable differences the extra speed will make to your everyday browsing and TV streaming experience, how urgent the need is to splash out on a superfast internet connection for your home, and when you can expect fibre optic broadband to become available across the UK, including in rural areas. - which.co.ukRead full article: Do I need fibre optic broadband? - Broad…
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Briantist and Neil:
There are two primary means of delivering fast broadband to homes, FTTC and FTTP.
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) brings the main fibre feed to an area into a green cabinet by the roadside. From there the BT method means it is distributed to each connected home via cable pairs similar to that used for the landline telephones, indeed some use the existing cabling for that connection. These cables are often referred to as copper but may be aluminium if they were laid in the last 20 years or so. Virhgin Media use a coaxial cable run into the home to Virgin supplied terminal equipment.
Fibre to the premises (FTTP) brings the fibre into the home and connects to a small wall mounted box that then feeds into the router, such as a BT Home Hub 5. I am not aware that Virgin provide any FTTP.
FTTC can be quite fast but FTTP is required for the very fastest type of connection. There are other means of providing internet services but these are mainly aimed at commercial users and generally beyond the affordability of domestic customers. Some of these are fibre based and others use gigabit ethernet systems at the delivery end.
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There is almost no FTTH in the UK as neither BT nor Virgin provide it at a consumer level. BT uses VDSL over copper from the cab, Virgin use DOCSISv3 over coax cable from the cab.
BT's next step, they have publicly stated, is to use G.Fast from the telegraph pole, which is idiotic to say the least.
Virgin are port bonding to increase their speeds, so currently I'm getting regularly 125Mbps down and 12Mbps up. This will be increased soon to circe 150Mbps down, don't know the up yet.
Of course it's fibre optic in the rest of the network - it has been for years - since before broadband was rolled out. This doesn't mean that the consumer gets anything like the speeds that fibre optics can deliver as different laws of physics govern electrical signals over copper than light through fibre. It's a disgrace that the service providers are able to claim it's fibre optic broadband, which quite obviously it isn't.
There are isolated cases of real fibre optic broadband in the UK, such as B4RN, Gigler, Hyperoptic, but its few and far between.
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You're quite right that there are few consumers with a FTTH service, but some do have though through providers other than BT or Virgin.
Telegraph poles have their uses - in rural areas like mine. Our landline is all via overhead copper (it's that old) and any improvements that do not entail digging trenches in roads with no footpaths and narrow verges, if any, will be a more cost-effective method of delivery. It was tried in part of Berkshire, south west of Reading, and I gather it was quite successful, though there was no information about how it was structured nor what delivery method was used.
Not all the rest of the network is fibreoptic. A few small rural exchanges still do not have fibre feeds and so no 21CN capability either. In my area they are just now laying a fibre feed to our exchange! That will, I gather from a local friendly Openreach engineer, replace several coaxial feeds.
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