What is Fibre Broadband?

Fibre Broadband explained

Standard broadband, also known as ADSL, is delivered over copper wire. Fibre broadband is different because it uses faster and more reliable fibre-optic cables. Openreach operate the UK’s largest broadband and telephone network and provides the infrastructure for Fibre broadband.

There are a few ways that a Fibre broadband connection can reach your house, but the most common way is known as Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). FTTC is when the signal comes through a fibre cable to the local green cabinet on your street, and then through copper wires the rest of the way to your home.

A newer technology called Fibre to the premises (FTTP), also known as ‘Full Fibre’, is becoming more available. This uses a fibre-optic cable for the full journey all the way to your home and offers the fastest speeds.

What is a ‘Green Cabinet’?

These are the green cabinets you see on the street. Openreach engineers use the green cabinets to manage which households are connected to Fibre broadband. There’s a limited number of household connections in each cabinet. Sometimes, if there’s no space in the cabinet we can’t offer you Fibre broadband until space becomes available.

Openreach's fibre availability map is the most up-to-date place to find out what’s available.

Why is Fibre Broadband faster?

Old copper wires can be negatively affected by electrical interference, which is why you might have seen stories about old television sets slowing down internet connections. Signal strength through copper wire also gets worse over distance. This is why your actual internet speed can be different based on your distance from the exchange. 

These issues aren’t a problem for fibre-optic cables. Fibre-optic cables transmit using tiny pulses of light to get the signal moving. Because light moves so fast, internet travelling in these kinds of wires is also faster. With no copper wire used at all, a Full Fibre broadband connection offers the fastest Fibre broadband speeds into your home.

Can I get Fibre Broadband?

This depends on two things:

  • If fibre is available in your area
  • If there is space in your nearest green cabinet

Fibre broadband is available in over 90% of the UK and managed by Openreach. If Openreach hasn’t brought fibre to your area, most internet service providers won’t be able to offer it. You can check whether you can get Fibre broadband, and what speeds you can expect on the line to your home, using our Speed Checker.

If fibre is not available at your property, Openreach may be able to give you an idea of when it will be coming.

How is Fibre Broadband installed?

Standard fibre broadband needs an engineer to set up the connection in the green cabinet, but you don’t need to be there for this as it happens remotely and not on your premises. However, if a new line connection is needed to your property, you will need to arrange an engineer to visit at a convenient time.

If available, Full Fibre (FTTP) broadband doesn’t need an engineer visit. If you order from us before 1.30PM, you can be up and running the next working day.

Why get Fibre Broadband?

Less interference in the wires means a more reliable connection

Higher speeds mean you can download photos, music and videos quicker

Little to no buffering when you’re streaming videos

Great if you’ve got multiple devices connected at once in your household