Fancy streaming ultra-HD video on multiple devices at once? Or downloading an entire music album in under a minute? Or, perhaps, your growing business needs instantaneous access to voice and video calls without any lag time. Full fibre is an attractive option for any internet user — but it’s all-too-easy to get lost in the jargon. Here, Kristian Torode, co-founder of business broadband provider Crystaline, runs through the what, where and hows of full fibre.
Before we dive into full fibre, let’s talk about its alternative. Right now, many of the fibre broadband connections in the UK only use fibre optic cables up to the telephone wiring cabinet on your street — earning them the name fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). After that, copper wires transmit the connection to homes and businesses. But that’s all set to change.
In December 2025, Openreach will shut off the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and with it, all those old copper wires will become redundant. Before that, in September 2023, businesses will no longer be able to purchase products that rely on the PSTN as part of a nationwide stop sell. That means connectivity services like FTTC will no longer be available either.
So, what is full fibre?
Full fibre internet uses fibre optic cables consisting of thin strands of glass or plastic to transmit data using pulses of light. These cables have a much higher capacity for data transmission compared to traditional copper cables, enabling significantly faster internet speeds and better performance. Full fibre connections can deliver symmetrical speeds, which means the upload and download speeds are equal, allowing for seamless online experiences for activities such as video streaming, gaming, video conferencing and large file transfers.
The installation of full fibre internet involves running fibre optic cables directly to individual homes or premises, known as fibre to the premise (FTTP), to eliminate the reliance on older copper-based connections. This direct fibre connection provides a more stable and consistent internet experience, even during peak usage times. It also futureproofs the network, as fibre optic technology has the potential for even higher speeds as demands for bandwidth increase.
Full fibre still isn’t available everywhere in the UK. As part of Openreach’s £15 billion rollout strategy, it aims to reach 25 million homes and businesses with full fibre by 2026. Locations are being added on a constant basis, with ten new locations covering an additional 124,000 premises added in May 2023 alone. So far, the rollout has covered around 10 million UK premises, including 3 million in rural areas.
FTTC or FTTP?
If you’re a little lost — we understand. Right now, we’re on the precipice of change. Most businesses and homes use FTTC, but that service won’t be viable for much longer. At the same time, FTTP is still on its way and there are many areas of the UK yet to upgrade. So where do you go from there?
Your FTTC service will still work for some time. However, if you’re currently using FTTC and planned to upgrade soon, there’s no point sticking with a connectivity service that’s going out-of-date. In addition, if you’re finding you need a faster, more reliable internet service as your business grows and evolves, you’re going to want full fibre as soon as you can get it.
If you’re looking to upgrade soon, and full fibre isn’t available in your area just yet, you might want to consider SoGEA. It works by providing connectivity over a single connection that doesn’t require a phoneline, so isn’t reliant on retiring technology. SoGEA is widely available and can deliver high-speed internet connections of up to 80 Mbps. While that’s not quite the speeds FTTP promises to deliver, it’s still a significantly quick internet connection that enables Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls and faster download speeds.
Full fibre sounds attractive for any business — and it is. With Openreach’s rollout gaining pace across the UK, we’ll soon be reaping the benefits of faster, future-proofed connectivity. However, it’s important you don’t jump feet first into full fibre if that’s not the best option for you right now. Ultimately, it’s best to speak with a dedicated business broadband provider who can advise you on the best ways to get — and stay — connected.