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What is superfast broadband? How do I get it?

Superfast broadband is a high-speed internet connection which provides much quicker internet speeds than standard ADSL broadband.

It's a broad term referring to the speed, not a specific type of broadband, and is usually applied to broadband with speeds of 24Mb+ or 30Mb+.

Many homes and businesses now have the option of getting a superfast fibre broadband deal to improve broadband speeds significantly.

Want to know more? This guide will tell you everything you need to know.

If you’re just interested in finding the best superfast service, then head over to our broadband deal comparison pages and use the postcode checker to see what’s available in your area.

How fast is superfast broadband?

Like ultrafast, "superfast" is a simplified label for broadly categorising internet speeds, not an official technical term with any universally recognised definition.

At Broadband Genie, we classify superfast broadband as a connection speed of 24Mb or above.

The ADSL broadband (often called standard broadband) available to most homes and businesses is not superfast, as it has a theoretical maximum speed of 24Mb (and, more realistically, an average of around 10Mb). But superfast is widely available using other broadband technologies. You can get superfast broadband right now with 4G mobile internet, satellite broadband, Openreach (BT line) fibre optic, and Virgin Media fibre.

Here are the average or up-to speeds you can expect to get with different types of superfast broadband:

  • Openreach (BT line) fibre optic: 35-38Mb / 50Mb (BT only) / 63-68Mb / 100Mb / 300Mb
  • Virgin Media: 54Mb / 108Mb / 213Mb / 362Mb / 518Mb
  • 4G mobile broadband: up to 21Mb / up to 40Mb / up to 60Mb / up to 100Mb
  • Satellite broadband: up to 30Mb

Average speeds are based on 50% of the provider’s customers, so provide a fairly accurate portrayal of the actual performance, though you should always be given a speed estimate when joining a provider.

An “up-to” speed is the maximum possible transfer rate of the connection, but the performance could be much lower in practice.

For mobile broadband - unlike fixed-line home broadband - you will not receive an estimate of speed from a mobile network as performance is highly variable depending on numerous factors outside the network's control.

For more help with this topic, our guide to broadband speeds goes into a lot more detail.

  • FTTC, HFC & FTTP

    Superfast broadband is not a specific type of connection, but most of the superfast home broadband services in the UK use one of two fixed-line broadband technologies: FTTC or HFC. You may also hear about FTTH or FTTP, which offer even greater speeds.

    Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)
    FTTC is the broadband service offered by most ISPs, using the Openreach (BT) telephone network. An FTTC connection uses fibre optic lines up to street cabinets, then it’s carried into our homes with the old copper telephone line.

    Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC)
    HFC is the technology used by Virgin Media. Like FTTC it uses fibre optic cables up to the street cabinets, but then relies on coaxial cable to reach into homes. This allows Virgin Media to offer faster broadband speeds, as well as telephone and TV services. 

    Fibre To The Home/Premises (FTTH or FTTP)
    Another type of broadband technology that’s less common but will (hopefully!) dominate in the future is Fibre To The Home/Premises (FTTH or FTTP). This is a “full-fibre” connection which eliminates the old copper telephone wires and can provide very speedy “ultrafast” broadband, though providers also offer slower and cheaper packages with superfast speeds.

    For more information, see our guide on FTTP vs FTTC

Can I get superfast broadband?

You probably can get superfast broadband right now. More than 94% of premises now have access to fixed-line superfast connectivity, many places have 4G network signal, and for everyone else, there is always satellite broadband. 

The rollout of superfast broadband has been going on for several years and aims to provide superfast connectivity to the vast majority of premises by 2020. In most cases superfast will be delivered over an Openreach or Virgin Media line. The Openreach site has a map showing superfast coverage and future deployments.

You can find out if superfast is available in your home right here on Broadband Genie - enter your postcode below to see results for your location. This will quickly show you what superfast services are available in your area. If you would like to find out more about the availability of broadband in specific towns, visit our local broadband hub for guides to many parts of the UK.

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  • Alternatives to fixed-line superfast broadband

    For most of us, a fixed-line broadband connection using the Openreach or Virgin Media network is the best way to get superfast, but not everyone will have this option. If you’re in a situation where fixed-line services aren't available, there are alternatives: 

    Satellite broadband
    Satellite internet is an excellent alternative if you live in a very remote area where there's no other option for broadband, as it will work anywhere; the only requirement is that you must be able to mount a dish with a clear view of the sky. It’s reasonably quick too - most satellite ISPs can offer download speeds up to 30Mb and upload speeds up to 6Mb. 

    Satellite is more expensive, however. Setup can be several hundred pounds, and the running costs are a little higher than other types of broadband. Unlimited satellite broadband is especially pricey, but most satellite ISPs offer cheaper packages with unlimited usage in off-peak hours.

    The biggest downside is that satellite has very high latency, making it unsuitable for things like online gaming and remote desktop access.

    4G and 5G mobile broadband
    4G and 5G mobile networks can provide a reasonably reliable superfast connection so long as you can get a strong signal. Some networks - notably EE and Three - are catering to home users with packages that include Wi-Fi internet routers and larger data usage caps. 

    But of course, you need to be able to get a signal, and if you don’t have good fixed-line connectivity there may not be much in the way of a mobile network in your area either. However, if there’s only a weak signal it is possible to get much faster mobile broadband by using an external antenna to boost reception.

Do I need superfast?

We recommend superfast broadband for anyone who regularly uses their internet for demanding data-heavy activities such as HD video streaming (Netflix, iPlayer, etc.), downloading large files and gaming. It’s also recommended if the connection is shared with other people so that the broadband doesn't become unbearably slow when everyone in your home is online at the same time. 

However, if the broadband is mostly for light usage such as web browsing, social media and email, then you’re not going to see much benefit from the faster connection and could save money with a cheaper ADSL service.

Superfast broadband advantages

  • Fast! Superfast broadband is significantly quicker than standard ADSL broadband.
  • Better upload speeds. In addition to fast download rates, you can also expect a much quicker upload speed, which is useful if you frequently send large files.
  • Affordable. Superfast broadband is not expensive, and there are always lots of special offers.

Superfast broadband disadvantages

  • Not available everywhere. While superfast broadband over a fixed-line does have 94%+ coverage, there are still many homes which cannot get it. Alternatives are available (see above) but may not be suitable for everyone.
  • ADSL is cheaper. While superfast isn’t expensive, it does still cost a little more than ADSL. If you don’t need the extra speed, you can save money with a cheap broadband deal.

For more help and advice about choosing the right broadband service, our guide “do I need fast broadband?” goes into lots more detail. If you're a business and looking for the right broadband, also check out our leased line broadband guide.

Or if you're now sold on superfast, check out some of the best superfast deals currently available:

Dynamic deal panel

Which providers offer superfast?

Finding superfast broadband isn’t a problem when so many ISPs offer it. Some of the providers and packages you’ll find on Broadband Genie include:

BT Superfast Fibre
35Mb, 50Mb, or 67Mb average speeds | 18-month contract
Prices start from under £30 for the initial contract term. Extras include free cloud storage, public Wi-F and BT Sports.

EE Fibre
36Mb or 67Mb average speeds | 18-month contract
Initial contract prices from under £30. EE offers a £50 early cancellation credit if you’re charged when switching.

NOW Broadband Fibre
36Mb or 63Mb average speeds | one month or 12-month contracts
NOW is one of the few providers offering superfast on a flexible rolling monthly contract. You can also get cheap streaming TV bundles.

Plusnet
36Mb or 66Mb average speeds | 18-month contract
Plusnet has a good reputation and is well regarded by customers for its service and support.

TalkTalk
35Mb or 63Mb average speeds | 18-month contract
Cheap fibre optic deals, and the option of TV bundles with flexible premium channel add-ons.

Virgin Media
54Mb, 108Mb, 213Mb, 362Mb, or 518Mb average speeds | 12 month contract
Virgin has the fastest speeds of any mass-market provider, but you must be in a Virgin network area. 

How to get superfast deals

To help you find the perfect superfast package we’ve designed our comparison tables so comparing offers is quick and easy. 

To get started head over to our fibre optic comparison page and enter a postcode. On the left side of the comparison table (or up top if you’re on mobile), you’ll find the filters. Use these to narrow down the options. For example, you can tell it to display only deals over a certain speed or include packages with a TV bundle. 

Once you’ve filtered the deals, use the table to sort the results and prioritise by particular features. 

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