What is ultrafast broadband?
Ultrafast broadband is a general term for a very high speed broadband connection.
It does not refer to a specific type of broadband technology and can be applied to any connection that is fast enough to qualify. Currently, commercially available ultrafast broadband services use fixed lines - either Fibre To the Premises (FTTP) or, in the case of Virgin Media, Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC). But in the near future we may get wireless ultrafast broadband via 5G mobile networks.
How fast is it?
As with superfast broadband there is no official universally recognised definition of ultrafast broadband, however Ofcom defines it as any connection with a download speed of 300Mbps+. Upload speed is not usually part of the definition but you can also expect a very high upload rate, with some ultrafast fibre connections offering symmetrical connectivity where the download and upload speeds are the same.
Why are there deals below 300Mb listed above?
For many people, 76 Mb superfast broadband is more than sufficient for their requirements. It can generally support whole family households streaming, gaming and downloading large files for example. We have therefore included these deals in the table above, they also may work out as more cost-effective!
Can I get ultrafast in my area?
It is possible you could get ultrafast right now, though at present ultrafast broadband is only available to a small percentage of homes.
You can quickly check availability online. One option is to use the postcode checker in our comparison table at the top of this page, and if any ultrafast providers are available they will be displayed in the results. Alternatively, use the SamKnows broadband coverage tools to view further details about services in your area.
When will I be able to get ultrafast broadband?
The rollout of ultrafast broadband is gathering pace so coverage is improving all the time, but it’s hard to say when you may be able to get it. If you’re in a larger town or city there’s a good chance it will be available within a few years, however more remote locations could be waiting a lot longer. Keep an eye on news for broadband in your area to get a heads-up of new developments.
Which providers offer 300Mb+ internet?
Some of the providers which offer ultrafast speeds include:
The Virgin Media VIVID 300 package offers download speeds up to 300Mb. This is the most widely available ultrafast service, and if you’re within the Virgin Media network area (covering just over 60% of homes) there’s a good chance you can get this service.
BT recently launched the Infinity 4 service with speeds up to 314Mb. This uses either FTTP or G.fast technology, depending on availability. However there are less than 1m properties covered by these services at this time, though this is planned to expand to 12m by 2020.
Hyperoptic operates its own pure fibre (FTTP) broadband network and can deliver speeds up to 1Gb. It mainly operates in central London, and has been focusing on new build blocks of flats.
What is ultrafast broadband good for?
Downloading and uploading
Ultrafast broadband makes large downloads trivial, and is also very helpful if you need to frequently upload big files.
Family and shared homes
If your connection often slows down when everyone is online at the same time, ultrafast broadband can provide enough bandwidth that everyone can do what they like with the internet without affecting anyone else.
Ultrafast broadband is easily quick enough to handle very high definition 4K video streaming, and can manage to support several people all streaming video at once.
Ultrafast broadband can let you download large games much faster, and the extra upload speed is useful for hosting online games and broadcasting video.
How much does it all cost?
Although coverage remains limited at present, the good news is that when ultrafast is available it is not too expensive. For example, Hyperoptic charges £60 per month for 1Gb. BT Infinity 4 costs £59.99. And Virgin Media VIVID 300 starts at less than £50.
This is probably more than you pay now but it’s likely that once ultrafast is more widely available we will see cheaper deals as providers compete for customers.