Summary of topics:
Although internet infrastructure has been a part of the United Kingdom for decades now, there have been a number of advances to how we receive broadband in our home. Most notable advancements in recent history include FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) and FTTP (fibre to the premises) - two technologies utilising fibre cable to connect internet infrastructure instead of the copper cabling that was originally utilised for telephony services and adapted to deliver internet services to the nation.
Both FTTP and FTTC operate using similar technologies to deliver high-speed broadband to your home, though there are some important differences that affect speed and reliability of your broadband service. Learn about the technologies in this guide, as well as which is right for you.
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) uses a combination of fibre optic cables and copper cables to deliver your broadband signal. The majority of homes in the United Kingdom are connected to the wider exchange, which is facilitated by street cabinets located near your home. This is completely unique to wireless broadband, however, which uses wireless receivers to deliver your broadband signal.
FTTC has fibre optic cables laid down between the main broadband exchange and the street cabinet near your home. At this stage, copper cable is used, connecting your home to the street cabinet and allowing for the necessary data transfer.
Advantages and disadvantages of FTTC
There are a number of trade-offs made when opting for FTTC broadband as your service of choice.
There are advantages to using FTTC broadband. Firstly, as the infrastructure is already in place and doesn’t affect your property, you won’t be required to make any changes to receive FTTC broadband. The copper cabling has been laid for many years at this point, as it was done when the telephony services first came into public use. Secondly, the majority of FTTC broadband services tend to be more affordable than other services.
These advantages come at the cost of performance and reliability. Unfortunately, the maximum achievable speed for most FTTC connections caps at 80Mbps (Megabits per second), which equates to a download speed of around 20Mbps. This is exacerbated by the loss of reliability when the lines are under load, particularly during peak times, as the copper cabling cannot sustain the required throughput if large demands are placed on the infrastructure.
The speed available at your home is also dependant on how close your property is to a FTTC Street Cabinet. If you’re over 200m then you will not get the full 80Mbps and beyond 3000m speeds above 10Mbps are not achievable. This means that there is a postcode lottery on how good your internet is.
Fibre to the premises (FTTP) uses pure fibre optic cabling as the connection for your broadband - all the way from the main exchange to your property. Fibre optic cables transmit data using light, meaning that data transfer speeds far outstrip anything available from traditional copper cable connections.
Advantages and disadvantages of FTTP
FTTP broadband offers unrivalled speeds, with domestic broadband subscriptions offering up to 1Gbps (1 Gigabit per second/1000Mbps), many times faster than that of FTTC connections. With a high-quality FTTP broadband installation, you could see download speeds over 1000Mbps, which is ideal for large households with multiple active users and plenty of smart devices.
Furthermore, as the infrastructure is specifically designed with high-speed broadband in mind, it is far less susceptible to saturation from demand in your local area and will provide a much more reliable signal than an FTTC installation.
FTTP is not distant dependant in the way FTTP is, meaning that it doesn’t matter how far you are from a cabinet your speed will be as your contract dictates
Unfortunately, not all properties are eligible for FTTP broadband, as the nationwide rollout of the necessary infrastructure is still underway. If your property is eligible for FTTP broadband, you will need a small amount of work done at your property by a qualified installer. This can usually be done in approximately two hours, though it is important to know. Additionally, FTTP broadband contracts tend to be more expensive than FTTC, though you are receiving a higher quality of performance as a result.
Here at Wildanet, we are deploying an XGSPON based FTTP, this means it’s capable of a whopping 10Gbps! We’re rolling out FTTP throughout Cornwall. Learn more here www.wildanet.com/fibre
Choosing the right broadband for your home can be tricky, especially given the methods of advertising used by many suppliers. Even FTTC connections are often dubbed ‘full fibre’ or ‘fibre broadband’, which can confuse the reality. We recommend paying attention to the speed on offer from the contract, as well as ensuring there are no data limits on your plan, as this will hinder your ability to make the most of your broadband service.
You will want to consider an FTTP connection if you fit any of the following:
Multi-person households that are highly connected
You’ll want to consider an FTTC connection if you fit any of the following:
It’s important to keep in mind that BT are moving forward with the Copper Switch Off, which is set to complete by 2025. Essentially, in an attempt to modernise infrastructure and ensure the nation’s connectivity continues to improve, BT is ceasing to use copper cables for ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) services, instead moving to an IP-based solution for voice communication, otherwise known as VoIP (voice over internet protocol).
Some believe that this means FTTC connections will also be removed, but this is not the case. There are no immediate plans to deactivate copper cables for use in FTTC broadband capacity, but BT plans to utilise such broadband services to power your voice communications. It does mean that new orders will be stopped, that means that if you move home you may not be able to order older FTTC or copper telephone services.
This could be problematic for users who opt not to have broadband internet access, though the vast majority of users won’t be affected by the change set for 2025.