Fibre optic broadband offers a massive improvement in broadband speeds compared to ADSL internet services, and there are always loads of great deals, so you don’t need to spend a lot to get much faster broadband.
But is fibre broadband available in your area? All you have to do is use our fibre broadband checker to find out
The good news is that, in 2021, it’s very likely you can get fibre right now: Openreach say fibre is available to over 96% of the UK.
Enter your postcode in our fibre checker below to see what fibre broadband deals are available in your area, it’s as simple as that:
Broadband Genie postcode checkerWhy do we need your postcode?
Why do we need your postcode?
BT Openreach & Ofcom checkers: Can you get fibre at your address?
The checker above will show you the deals that are available in your postcode area. On some rare occasions, availability may differ at an individual address. For this we’d recommend using one of the following:
- Openreach checker: Enter your postcode to see the fibre speeds available to your address. This will only show you providers who use the Openreach network (so you won’t be able to see availability for Virgin, or other providers with their own network).
- Ofcom mobile and broadband availability checker: Offers the above information and also takes into account Virgin Media.
It’s worth noting these won’t show you the deals available at your address, so you’ll want to use Broadband Genie’s fibre checker to see what specific packages are available at your postcode.
FTTC, FTTP and HFC - what are the different types of fibre?
There are several types of fibre optic broadband with different speeds, cost, and coverage, broadly summarised in the diagram below from OFCOM.
Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) is the most common type of fibre broadband. It uses the Openreach Fibre (BT) network and is offered by numerous providers including Sky, TalkTalk, and BT itself.
With FTTC, fibre optic cables are installed up to the green streetside cabinets; then the connection is carried into homes using the telephone line. If you get fibre broadband using your regular telephone line, then you have FTTC. While it’s not as fast as other types of fibre, it is quicker and easier to install so this has more extensive coverage across the UK. This is often the cheapest type of fibre.
FTTP / FTTH
Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), also known as Fibre To The Home (FTTH). FTTP is a “full-fibre” service, meaning the fibre optic cabling runs all the way into homes. This can deliver incredible performance, but it’s costly to install, so coverage is much smaller than FTTC and Virgin Media fibre at present.
FTTP coverage is growing, however, and in a few years will be available to many more homes. You can read more on the Openreach website.
If you’d like to learn more about fibre optic broadband technology, including information about fibre speeds and how to choose a fibre deal, read our beginner’s guide to fibre broadband. To learn more about the different types of fibre, visit our detailed guide to FTTC and FTTP.
HFC (cable broadband)
Hybrid Fibre Coaxial is the technology used by Virgin Media. It is similar to FTTC in that fibre optic lines run to the street cabinet. But instead of using a phone line, the connection into homes is achieved with coaxial cable. Virgin Media operates its own network, and has a smaller coverage footprint than the Openreach FTTC network, though it is still available to around 50-60% of premises.
Read more: Can I get Virgin Media?
Full-fibre checker: Can I get FTTP?
Full Fibre is available to eight million properties according to the latest Ofcom data. If you want to know if you can get FTTP in your area, you can use the checker below. It will show you the full-fibre deals available near you.
Broadband Genie postcode checkerWhy do we need your postcode?
Why do we need your postcode?
Again, this will show you the Full-Fibre deals available at your postcode, both of the following checkers will give you an idea of the speeds available at an individual address (including full-fibre/FTTP):
How is fibre broadband installed?
If there is fibre broadband (FTTC) in your area, then getting it installed, from a provider such as BT, Sky or TalkTalk, is similar to standard ADSL broadband. It typically takes around 14 days to activate and may involve an engineer visit.
A phone line is a requirement for any Openreach (BT) network fibre using FTTC technology (which accounts for the majority of fibre deals), but you do not need to get an inclusive call package unless you use the phone for voice calls. You can read more about it in our installation and activation guide.
If you're getting FTTP installed, the following video from Openreach’s YouTube channel, gives an idea of the fibre installation process
Virgin Media fibre optic requires a Virgin wall socket. If your home already has a socket you may be able to select Virgin’s “QuickStart” option — this is a DIY package that can be activated in as little as a week. Otherwise, an engineer will need to attend to install a socket. Again, this video from Virgin Media’s YouTube will demonstrate how Virgin is installed.
For Fibre To The Premises, a fibre line will need to be run into your home via a wall socket, similar to other types of fixed-line broadband. If your home previously had fibre then an existing line can be reactivated, otherwise, an engineer visit will be required.
If you would prefer not to have any phone service, Virgin Media can offer a broadband-only service. You can also get broadband without a phone from other fibre network providers such as Gigaclear and Hyperoptic.
Why can’t I get fibre broadband in my area?
Sadly, fibre broadband is not available to every one of us, and so you may find that you can’t currently get fibre optic in your area due to a wide variety of reasons.
Networks cannot afford it
The places most likely to have fibre are those where there will be a return on investment for the network operator, and this means that rural communities may not yet have fibre because it was viewed as economically infeasible to upgrade the network. Projects such as Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) have been working to fix this by providing additional funding, but there are still lots of gaps in coverage.
If your home is isolated the cost of installing cabling could be very high, and as such fibre optic broadband may never be available, at least for the foreseeable future.
Sometimes, factors such as local terrain, or even a crowded urban street mean it’s not possible for networks to lay fibres.
Distance to the exchange
Sometimes you may carry out a fibre postcode check and find that it tells you fibre is available, yet when you try to sign up to a provider, you’re unable to get the service. This occurs because the exchange serving your postcode has support for fibre optic, but it is not available at your address. Typically this is due to your home being too far from the exchange, outside the maximum range for FTTC.
Similarly, if there is high demand in your area for fibre (FTTC specifically), there may be no availability in the cabinet. In this instance, you might have to wait, or consider alternative options. FTTP, if available, would be a suitable alternative.
Densely populated areas
There are also situations where fibre optic is not available in areas you would expect to have excellent connectivity. For instance, parts of London and surrounding locations may have comparatively poor internet service despite being densely populated. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including the difficulty of carrying out work in a busy location or the limitations of state aid rules which prevent money from being spent in certain areas.
Limitations in blocks of flats
Those of you living in blocks of flats might also find your choice of broadband is more limited. Some new properties are having broadband installed during the build, but this may restrict you to one provider or type of broadband (though nowadays you could be lucky enough to find that your new flat has ultrafast FTTP!).
If fast broadband is essential and you’re in the process of looking for a new home, then it is worth spending some time researching availability before moving house.
The most accurate results: BT’s line checker
All the tools we’ve mentioned so far should give you a good idea of the speeds or the deals available to you. On rare occasions (i.e. a full cabinet) even Ofcom/Openreach’s tools might show you can get fibre, when you actually cannot. If you want the most accurate picture we would recommend the following:
- BT’s phone line checker: Enter your phone number for the most accurate picture of the services available to you
- BT’s address checker: As above, but slightly less accurate (but useful if you don’t have a phone number
These tools are a little overly technical, but if you look for “WBC FTTC Availability Date” - and it says ‘Available', you can get fibre!
When can I get fibre?
On a national level, Openreach has been upgrading its network to fibre, and more recently, full-fibre. You can follow the progress and check future availability on their site where they provide a map that can be searched with a postcode or phone number.
Virgin Media has also slowly been expanding, though it is more focused on improving performance for its existing customers rather than rapidly extending the network. They don’t offer a similar tool, though you can register for updates when checking Virgin coverage.
Elsewhere, smaller independent network operators such as CityFibre, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, and Gigaclear are building very fast FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) networks. Most will also have an option to express interest in their services.
What can I do if I can’t get fibre optic broadband in my area?
If fibre is not currently available in your area, there are a few options:
First, check whether you can get standard ADSL broadband using our broadband checker. While nowhere near as fast as fibre, it is still perfectly capable of handling downloads, video streaming, gaming, social media, and just about anything else a typical household could want from a broadband service. It can be very cheap, too.
If ADSL is not available, or you need a faster connection, you’ll have to explore alternative services outside the mainstream offerings. Use our broadband checker to find out what deals are available in your area.
4G and 5G mobile broadband
4G and 5G mobile broadband are now capable of providing a high-speed connection that can exceed standard home broadband, and Three, EE and Vodafone offer 4G and 5G packages for home use. You can find these by following the links below:
However, you could find that it is more expensive, and the data limits may be too small for your requirements; as such we’d always recommend unlimited mobile broadband. It is also reliant on a strong signal, and that may not be available if you’re in a location that lacks even basic fixed-line broadband. You can check coverage below
Satellite broadband can provide a superfast connection anywhere in the UK - the only requirement is that you’re able to mount a dish with a clear view of the sky. But satellite is more expensive to install and operate. Many satellite deals have data usage limits too, though providers are increasingly offering affordable packages with unlimited use at off-peak times. However, the biggest drawback of satellite is its very high latency which can interfere with VoIP (e.g. Skype), remote desktop access, and online gaming.
Community fibre projects
Another route to consider is a community broadband project. In some rural areas, residents have clubbed together to split the cost of installing a high-speed fibre optic line. Some fibre network providers - such as Gigaclear - will also undertake an installation if there’s sufficient interest from the community. While these DIY projects can take some time and effort, they can also get you a gigabit broadband service that’s much faster than the broadband available to most of the UK. Find more about community fibre projects in partnership with Openreach.