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FTTP, Full Fibre and FTTC: What are they? Are there providers in your area?

Fibre optic cable

Welcome to Broadband Genie, and our page all about FTTP, full fibre and FTTC broadband.

In this guide, we'll explain exactly what you need to know about them, what they mean for your broadband speed, and how to get an FTTC or FTTP broadband deal.

FTTP, full fibre and FTTC: the key points

  • FTTC stands for Fibre To The Cabinet. This is the most common type of fibre optic home broadband.
  • FTTP stands for Fibre To The Premises. It is also known as Fibre To The Home (FTTH). It's an example of 'full fibre' broadband
  • FTTP has a much higher top speed than FTTC, but it's currently available to far fewer homes.

What is the meaning of FTTP?

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP, or FTTH - Fibre to the Home) is a broadband technology that can provide very fast internet speeds.

Fibre to the premises is full fibre. This means the fibre broadband internet connection from the local exchange is connected to the router in your home. It's much faster than the old copper telephone line used by many other broadband services.

With FTTP you can enjoy very high speeds of 1Gb or more. Though FTTP can also deliver lower speeds, if very fast fibre is currently out of your budget. 

If it sounds like a good option for you, we have a page for FTTP deals. Just remember, availability can be limited - we'll talk more about this in a bit...

What does FTTC mean?

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) is an alternative technology that provides slower broadband speeds compared to FTTP/full fibre.

FTTC is slower than FTTP, as the fibre cables from the local exchange (or data centre) stop at the street cabinet. From here, traditional copper cabling is used to pipe the data to your router.

You may have noticed the installation of the new local cabinets, and the laying of cabling to them, over the past few years. These cabinets route data to your home, for voice and internet, via existing copper telephone wires.

FTTC is widely available on the Openreach (BT phone line) network, so most fibre optic broadband deals you'll find right now are using this technology.

Openreach had deployed a faster FTTC technology known as G.fast, which can offer speeds of more than 300Mbps.

Availability is limited, and fewer homes will be able to receive a G.fast service compared to existing FTTC broadband. For this, you must live within a minimum distance from the exchange for the technology to work. 

Openreach has put the deployment of this service on hold in favour of FTTP.

  • What is Openreach?

    Openreach is the company that maintains the former British Telecom Network used for the majority of broadband and phone services. If a repair or installation is required, it’s Openreach who will send an engineer, not your provider.

    More than 650 service providers using the Openreach network. That’s the majority of the UK’s broadband providers. This includes Sky, TalkTalk and BT. The exception to this is Virgin Media - it uses its own, separate cable network.

What is HFC?

Virgin Media operates its own network, and for much of it uses similar technology to FTTC, called 'Hybrid Fibre Coaxial' (HFC).

These coaxial cables are used to reach our homes instead of copper telephone lines. These are capable of delivering faster speeds, alongside telephone and TV services.

Using Virgin, you can currently get a maximum broadband speed up to an average 1.1Gb. This is extremely fast compared to the top average of around 65Mbps you'll get on an FTTC broadband service.

Virgin does also use FTTP in some parts of its network, though relatively few homes have access.

See also: 'Cable broadband deals'

FTTP vs FTTC

Which is the best broadband between FTTP and FTTC? Let's tackle each, one at a time.

FTTP Broadband: pros and cons
Pros Cons
  • Very fast full fibre broadband, capable of delivering speeds of 1Gb+.
  • Much faster upload speeds, often the same speed for both download and upload.
  • Despite the fast speeds, it's surprisingly affordable.
  • Doesn't require phone line rental.
  • Availability is currently very limited.
  • If you won't benefit from the speed, then standard ADSL and fibre are probably cheaper.

and what about FTTC broadband?

FTTC Broadband: pros and cons
We like We don't like
  • Excellent coverage — more than 90% of premises can get some kind of FTTC service.
  • Reasonably good download speeds that are usually sufficient for typical home use.
  • Very affordable — FTTC broadband deals are available from under £30 per month
  • Openreach FTTC uses existing telephone lines, so engineering work isn't usually required.
  • Top speeds pale in comparison to FTTP.
  • Upload speeds are limited.
  • Speed is impacted by the length of the copper line from the cabinet.

Do you need FTTP/full fibre or FTTC?

If you're looking for a faster internet connection, you're probably best served by either FTTP or FTTC. But which one?

Broadband for home use

For typical domestic users, the heaviest usage is likely to come from streaming video, downloading files, or playing games. Or you might just want to enjoy a spot of web browsing, social media and email.

If you fall into the latter category, you don't necessarily need FTTP or FTTC broadband.

If a night in front of Netflix sounds good to you, or you're a keen gamer, then slower standard broadband won't help much.

Another reason to get an FTTC or FTTP fibre-optic broadband connection would be for handling the demands of a busy shared or family home. Even if you're mainly using the connection for web browsing, you could find it gets very slow when everyone is connected at once. Throw in some Netflix, Spotify, online gaming and downloading and only fibre will be able to keep up.

Top fibre broadband deals :

Dynamic deal panel

Broadband for business

Standard ADSL broadband is almost certainly unsuitable for most business uses, unless you work alone.

Businesses may have to support multiple employees all connected at once. They might also need to operate servers, and could be frequently transferring large amounts of data.

Depending on your commercial needs, you might be able to use an FTTC or Virgin Media business broadband service, for which you'll find an extensive choice of very affordable business broadband deals. But businesses operating across multiple sites, requiring remote file access, video conferencing, and other online collaboration and training tools, will benefit from FTTP or specialist business broadband leased lines.

Who provides FTTP and FTTC broadband?

Full fibre providers

FTTP broadband, while not as common as FTTC, is available from numerous providers including: 

Hyperoptic

Hyperoptic runs its own full fibre network which offers speeds up to 1Gb, though slower (and cheaper) speeds are also available. Coverage is fairly limited in comparison to other providers, but it's excellent value for money if you can get it. Hyperoptic currently serves  larger towns and cities and is often installed in new-build flats.

BT

BT has the largest FTTP network, with around 900,000 premises covered by fibre broadband up to 1Gb. It plans to expand to cover three million premises by 2020.

Gigaclear

A provider that runs its own network. It's committed to upgrading rural communities that might have been looked over by other providers. This means it gives vital ultrafast speeds to villages and smaller towns across the UK.

See also: 'Compare ultrafast broadband deals'

FTTC providers

For areas limited to FTTC broadband, you have a choice between the Openreach and Virgin Media networks. 

Recent upgrades to the Virgin Media network to compete with FTTP have resulted in higher speeds. The lowest you can expect from Virgin Media is around 50Mbps for under £30 per month, up to a rapid 1.1Gb.

Other fibre optic providers (such as Sky, TalkTalk, EE, Plusnet, and many more) use the Openreach network. More than 95% of premises now have access to FTTC broadband using a regular telephone line. 

FTTC and FTTP availability

FTTC is the most widespread high-speed broadband service in the UK, with 95% coverage for speeds of 30Mb+. This is including the Virgin Media network, which by itself covers around 53% of premises.

FTTP is far more limited. However, in September 2023, Ofcom confirmed full fibre coverage for the UK has passed the halfway threshold for the first time. By 2025 this is hoped to have been expanded out to more than 80% of UK premises.

Can I get FTTP?

To find out if you can get high-speed fibre broadband via FTTP, use our checking tool below. Enter your postcode or address and we'll show you a selection of full fibre broadband deals in your area.

Broadband Genie full fibre postcode checker

Can I get FTTC?

You can also check the availability of FTTC broadband. Try it right now to see if fibre broadband is available in your area:

Broadband Genie fibre postcode checker

Expert Summary

Right now, not all of us have a choice whether we can sign up for FTTC or FTTP broadband. The majority of homes across the UK have access to a good standard fibre (FTTC) network. However, the rollout of FTTP broadband is ongoing. In 2023, more than half of UK properties now have access to full fibre packages. We expect that number to increase considerably over the next few years as expansion picks up pace.

Meet the author:
Christian Cawley

With a background in general desktop support in the public sector and specialised software support in the private sector, Christian has worked as a freelance technology writer for websites and newsstand publications since 2008.

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