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FTTP and FTTC - What are they?

Last updated: 03. 09. 2020

FTTP and FTTC - What are they?
If you’re looking to upgrade your broadband deal to the latest fibre service, you’ll need to get familiar with a few technical terms and what they mean. In this guide we’ll be running through the difference between FTTP and FTTC fibre services and how to figure out which one would be best for you.

What is fibre?

Before we dive into the differences between the two main fibre services we need to have a quick look at what ‘fibre’ is. ‘Fibre’ is the nickname given to fibre optic broadband services - the newest generation of superfast broadband that is much faster than your standard ADSL broadband connection.

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How does it work?

Fibre broadband is actually fairly straightforward. It works just like a regular ADSL connection, except that fibre optic cables are used instead of copper cables. These fibre optic cables are seriously thin (about the width of a human hair) and are encased in highly reflective material.

This allows light to travel down them at much faster speeds. Data is converted into flashes of light before being sent down the cable, and these flashes of light are translated back into data at the other end.

Fibre optic broadband is the fastest available on the market right now, and comes in two main forms: FTTC and FTTP. Both of these services utilise fibre optic technology, but are very different services.

What is FTTC?

FTTC stands for ‘fibre to the cabinet’. These services use fibre optic wires only from the provider to the green telecommunications cabinets you see on most streets. From the cabinet itself to your home, a copper wire connection is used instead of fibre optic.

These services are much more common in the UK, mainly because they utilise the existing infrastructure and don’t require roads to be dug up to lay down new cables. This also makes FTTC packages much cheaper and more accessible.

The only real drawback to these services is that the copper wire connection between the cabinet and your home will slow down the speed of your broadband connection.

What is FTTP?

Given the definition of an FTTC connection you can probably guess what FTTP (fibre to the premises) connections are. These are fibre optic services that run straight from your internet service provider to your home using 100% fibre optic cables. They are also known as FTTH or ‘fibre to the home’ services.

These connections can be as fast as a whopping 1Gbps. However, availability is fairly limited in the UK. So even if you fancy an FTTP connection, you may not be able to get one.

FTTP vs FTTC: How do they compare?

There are three main areas which FTTP and FTTC differ:
  1. Speed - FTTP offers faster speeds than FTTC. As you are receiving 'fibre to the premises', you are able to make use of a much higher bandwidth than you can via 'fibre to the cabinet'. FTTP speeds can reach 1Gbps upload and download speeds, whereas FTTC often caps at less than 100 Mbps.
  2. Availability - FTTP broadband coverage is limited in the UK. Some estimates put its footprint at 10-11% of premises, largely because for FTTP to be installed new infrastructure is required. FTTC is a lot more commonplace, with over 96% of the UK covered.
  3. Price - As fibre to the premises is a relatively new development in the UK, and relies on new infrastructure, it can often be more expensive to get a plan on. This is not always the case, however; Hyperoptic offer FTTP broadband deals and often at a much cheaper price than many FTTC alternatives. Hyperoptic's availability is quite limited though! 

Which one should I get?

As with anything, it really depends on your needs. For most households and businesses FTTC would do just fine.

However, if reliability is important to you, and there is a lot of heavy internet usage at any given time (maybe you have a large family with many devices, or your business requires a lot of data transfer throughout the day), then an FTTP connection could be better for you.

As mentioned, FTTP services are currently quite limited, and the need to lay down new infrastructure to facilitate such services means that the cost of FTTP packages are quite high, so bear that in mind too.

If you think fibre optic broadband will be the best option for you, compare broadband deals with us now and upgrade your internet today.

Which providers offer FTTC deals?

Providers who offer broadband via BT Openreach's network will usually offer FTTC plans. Such providers include:

Which providers offer FTTC deals?

Providers which offer FTTP often run their own fibre networks:
  • Hyperoptic - Hyperoptic are only available in select areas, they offer 50Mb, 150Mb, 500Mb, and 1Gb speeds. Hyperoptic offer the same speed for upload and downloads, so you wont be caught out whether watching films in 4k or uploading large files for work. 
  • Virgin Media - Virgin Media offers speeds of up to 362Mbs and only offers fibre optic packages. Virgin Media are available in more places than the other FTTP providers here, so if superfast broadband is what you're after they are a good provider to look at first.
  • Gigaclear - Live a bit more rurally? Gigaclear is working hard to provide ultrafast broadband for rural communities who might not be covered by Virgin, Hyperoptic, or Openreach. Gigaclear offer speeds up to 900Mbps, but their fibre optic packages can come at a price. 
Fergus Cole

Author: Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.

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