High-speed internet access is on its way to becoming a fundamental human right, but just how fast is fast enough? Is there such a thing as too fast? There’s certainly such a thing as too slow. At the top end of the scale, you’ll see hyperfast and ultrafast connections on offer, but what exactly do they mean? We put together a quick guide with a brief overview of the different speeds to provide some context with some more detail regarding the quickest internet speeds available.
Superfast tends to refer to basic fibre optic broadband. This is the kind of connection that you will find in most normal-sized households across the UK. If you want to be streaming HD movies or downloading anything with any degree of haste then you’ll want at least superfast broadband. Ofcom identifies superfast broadband as that which has download speeds between 30Mbps and 300Mbp – clearly it covers quite a wide range. Most superfast broadband deals you’ll find will sit somewhere between 24Mbps and 80Mbps.
Ultrafast broadband does not actually refer to any specific type of technology used but rather is simply a bracket of connection speed.
Ultrafast broadband is defined by Ofcom as any connection which has speeds higher than 300Mbps and is generally considered to top out around 1,000Mbps.
For a frame of reference, speeds of 300Mbps should theoretically allow you to stream around 50 HD movies at the same time which, depending on exactly what kind of lifestyle you live, might seem a little bit excessive.
The issue when trying to pinpoint exactly how fast a particular ultrafast package can be is that ISPs will not always stick to the dictionary definition of what ultrafast means. For example, many ‘ultrafast’ packages maxing out at anywhere between 100-500Mbps.
In general, we would say that for standard usage, most households wouldn’t need ultrafast internet. In most cases superfast internet would suffice. If you are regularly engaging in large file transfers or are part of a large household of committed streamers or gamers, then you might find a superfast connection might start to falter under the strain. One thing to consider is that ultrafast is often not much more expensive that superfast internet, so if your finding you your streams buffering you might want to consider the switch.
The following providers offer ultrafast broadband deals:
BT currently have two ultrafast broadband offers on the table, both promising speeds of more 100mbps, making them the first provider to do so and offer £20 compensation if your speed ever drops below that threshold.
Virgin Media offer the most widely available ultrafast broadband connections with three different deals clocking in at over 100Mbps
Hyperfast broadband connections will clock download speeds of at least 500Mbps. This can go up to, 1Gbps although connections this fast tend to be classified as ‘gigabit broadband’. Hyperfast broadband is not readily available and is generally only installed in very dense urban areas that contain either large office or residential buildings. Hyperfast is also available in some rural areas from smaller providers, where larger companies such as BT or Virgin do not provide fibre optic services thanks to various community initiatives.
Unless you are going to be continuously downloading, sharing and transferring huge amounts of information then a hyperfast internet connection probably isn’t necessary. Hyperfast is used in most cases for commercial purposes and will be routed into large office or residential buildings to serve dozens if not hundreds of different people.
If you are a homeowner, then getting a hyperfast capable line into your house might be a long-term investment. The amount of bandwidth needed to fulfil day-to-day online tasks is increasing all the time and with the increasing usage of video conferencing and high-quality streaming having a household that is hyper fast capable might add value to a house. Having a hyper fast connection would allow a large household to use all these bandwidth heavy services all at the same time which may be an asset, especially if remote working continues to grow in popularity.
Hyperoptic are currently the foremost provider of hyperfast internet, and while it is not readily available across the whole country it can be found in 250 different postcodes across the capital as well as in regional cities like Bristol, Cardiff, Reading Leeds and Liverpool. They are currently offering a special deal with a cut price for the first year on contract with them.
Hyperoptic 1Gb Broadband (speeds of 900Mbps) £39 for the first 12 months and £63 after that.