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How is fibre optic broadband installed?

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Last updated: 28 April 2022

There are two types of fibre optic broadband in the UK: fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP). The way they’re installed is somewhat different, but how do they both work?

FTTC delivers average download speeds of up to 67Mbps and is typically what providers mean when they refer to fibre optic broadband.” FTTC runs over fibre optic cables from the local telephone exchange to your neighbourhood's street cabinet then traverses the last leg, to your door, over the copper wires of the landline phone network. 

Therefore, by upgrading the local street cabinet, all homes connected to it can access FTTC broadband. Previously, an engineer would have to enter every home to install a new master socket and modem so you could use FTTC. But today, the customer can complete the installation themselves simply by plugging in a combined router and modem. Thats why the technology is available to more than 97% of UK premises.

FTTP, commonly branded full fibre” by providers, is a little more complicated and labour-intensive to install. It runs over fibre optic wires all the way from the telephone exchange to your door and can deliver download and upload speeds of over 1Gbps (1,000Mbps). That means broadband networks must run new wires to your home, either through underground ducts or overhead telephone poles. Thats why you may have seen workers digging up roads in your area.

Full-fibre broadband providers typically wont run a full-fibre line to your home at your request. Youll have to wait until their rollout reaches your neighbourhood. But if youre among the one in three UK households already covered by full fibre, the installation is relatively simple but will require an appointment with an engineer.

When the engineer arrives, theyll install two small junction boxes, one inside the property and one outside, with a small hole drilled through the wall to connect them. Theyll then run a fibre optic cable from a nearby underground duct or telephone pole to the junction box. The installer will then plug the router into the box inside your home and test the connection on one of your devices. When theyve ensured everything is up and running, you can use the internet as usual but at much faster speeds.


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Lauren Smith

Author: Lauren Smith

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