FTTC vs FTTP Broadband

Key points

  • FTTC broadband uses optic fibre to connect to the telephone exchange cabinet and copper wires to connect to individual properties.
  • FTTP broadband uses pure optic fibre cable transmission that runs directly from the exchange to individual properties.
  • The speed of the FTTC broadband can be up to 100Mbps, but the speed is reduced during peak periods because of demand saturation. It also depends on the property's distance to the telephone exchange cabinet.
  • The installation and monthly fees of the FTTP are higher than the FTTC broadband.

It's common knowledge that FTTC and FTTP broadband have immensely contributed to making the UK one of the countries with the highest internet penetration rate in the world, with over 60 million monthly users. Even though different internet infrastructures have been developed over the years to reach this level, these newer broadband technologies are part of the latest internet infrastructures available today. These broadband types use closely related technologies to deliver high-speed internet to the users. Before choosing between the two broadband technologies, the user must consider the speed, reliability, availability, and cost. The FTTC and FTTP are the two main types of broadband in the UK; they are upgrades of the slower ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line). This overview explains the two types of broadband.

FTTC broadband

FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) uses fibre, which has a glass core, allowing the transmission of information through them using light. As the name implies, this very high-speed fibre connection goes to the telephone exchange cabinet seen on the streets. The journey of this high-speed internet connection becomes reduced when copper wires connect the cabinets to businesses and homes (copper wires are economic substitutes for costly fibre optic cables). Fibre optic cables transmit data thousands of times faster than copper wires.

This optic fibre connection terminates at the cabinet on the streets. The copper wires connect the high-speed internet from the cabinet to homes and businesses; this causes slow internet speed, especially during peak periods. The FTTC uses an automated system called Dynamic Line Management (DLM) to provide users with relatively stable, fast, and error-free internet. While the DLM monitors the system, it uses alternate arrangements to correct errors in the system or reduce the speed of the internet connectivity.

Unfortunately, the DLM doesn't act to correct these irregularities most of the time, which affects the speed and reliability of the FTTC broadband. Users closer to the telephone exchange cabinet enjoy faster internet speed, sometimes as high as 70Mbps for downloads and 19Mbps for uploads, compared to users farther to the cabinet with the FTTC broadband, and its contention ratio is 64:1.

FTTP broadband

FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) broadband provides direct fibre optic cable connection from the ISP to businesses and homes in the UK. Also referred to as FTTH (Fibre To The Home), FTTP broadband is pure fibre optic cable transmission, resulting in ultrafast broadband speed. It represents a future-proof option for users who want to enjoy gigabit speeds in the comfort of their homes.

The speed, resilience, and reliability ensure that data is transmitted over the fibre through pulses of light with rates over 100Mbps, providing superior bandwidths of about 1Gpbs for downloads and 50 Mbps for uploads. It offers a meagre contention ratio of 1:1. Even though it remains the fastest broadband available in the UK, its availability is still a postcode lottery. Less than 7 million properties in the UK are winners of the FTTP broadband postcode lottery as additional infrastructures are needed to build the steam.

FTTP and FTTP pros and cons

Comparison of FTTC and FTTP advantages

FTTC AdvantagesFTTP Advantages
Faster than the ADSL It offers ultrafast speed because of superior bandwidth
It is affordable Very high durability
Uses available infrastructures Very reliable and resilient with resistance to electromagnetic interferences
Widespread availability Scalable and future-proof

Comparison of FTTC and FTTP disadvantages

FTTC DisadvantagesFTTC Disadvantages
Slower speed when compared to newer technologies More expensive
Reduced reliability during peak periods Difficult to install and requires a longer time for implementation
Performance-related issues linked to distance to telephone exchange cabinets Very high durability

Network carriers of FTTC and FTTP broadband in the UK

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide access to the internet through FTTC and FTTP broadband, while network carriers provide the infrastructure through which the electrical signals pass. Currently, two major broadband networks in the UK are using the FTTC, while there are three major broadband networks for the FTTP in the UK. These broadband networks are listed below.

FTTC network carriers

  • Openreach: This network is part of the BT group but operates independently. Some medium to large ISPs using Openreach infrastructure include BT, Plusnet, EE, Sky, and TalkTalk.
  • Virgin Media: This company uses a modern multi-core copper wire that makes it faster than the Openreach network; this allows its customers to access speeds of about 1,130Mbps.

FTTP network carriers

  • Openreach: Openreach currently serves close to 7 million properties in the UK and has a government mandate to extend FTTP broadband to most homes by 2025.
  • Gigaclear: This network currently serves rural locations neglected by the major players and only extends to localities with considerable interest by the residents.
  • Hyperoptic: It is a small but whole fibre network with limited coverage in the country.

Major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) of FTTC Broadband in the UK

  • BT Fibre: This is BT's most widespread broadband, with fibre cables transmitting signals to the telephone exchange cabinets on the streets before being connected to homes and businesses by copper cables. It provides average speeds of up to 80Mbps.
  • John Lewis Broadband: Fibre Extra represents the next generation of John Lewis broadband's internet connectivity, averaging speeds of about 66Mbps.
  • Plusnet Broadband: The FTTC unlimited fibre extra of Plusnet averages speeds of about 66Mbps.
  • EE broadband: EE broadband has 4G and 5G home broadband. The 4G home broadband averages speeds of up to 31Mbps while the 5G averages speed of about 110Mbps.
  • Shell Energy Broadband: The superfast fibre plus averages speeds of about 67Mbps; this represents the average of at least 50% of customers downloading and uploading speeds during peak periods.
  • Virgin Media Broadband: This is the fastest among all the FTTC broadband providers. It averages speeds of up to 213Mbps because of the modern multi-core copper Virgin Media broadband uses.
  • TalkTalk Fibre: The fibre 65 of TalkTalk offers speeds of up to 67Mbps.
  • Vodafone Fibre: Vodafone's superfast 100 speeds up to 100Mbps.
  • Sky Fibre: Sky's superfast 35 averages speeds of about 36Mbps.

Major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) of FTTP Broadband in the UK

  • BT Broadband: BT's most complete package offers up to 900Mbps.
  • Gigaclear Broadband: The Hyperfast 900 uses whole fibre and averages speeds of about 830Mbps.
  • Hyperoptic Broadband: The Hyperfast FTTP total fibre offers an iconic package with speeds of up to 1Gbs.
  • Vodafone Broadband: Vodafone's Pro broadband offers whole fibre and speeds up to 900Mbps.
  • Sky Broadband: Sky's Gigafast offers whole fibre with average speeds of 900Mbps.
  • Zen Broadband: Zen's no holds barred Ultrafast broadband averages 900Mbps.
  • Shell Energy Broadband: The Full Fibre 900 averages speeds of about 944Mbps.
  • TalkTalk Fibre: The complete fibre package of TalkTalk offers speeds of up to 900Mbps.

Essential features of the FTTC broadband

  • Speed and Reliability: While the speed of the FTTC broadband is not comparable with the full fibre FTTP, it is faster than the ADSL. The modern multi-core copper cable that Virgin Media uses makes it faster than other ISPs using the Openreach network as a carrier for the FTTC broadband. The distance between the properties and the telephone exchange cabinet affects the internet speed, with the demand saturating during peak periods and resulting in dropouts and reduced speeds.
  • Cost: The installation and monthly payment for FTTC broadband in the UK is affordable, and Broadbandproviders provide an overview and comparison based on the different ISPs.
  • Availability: It currently has about 95% coverage in the UK for speeds of at least 30Mbps.

Essential features of the FTTP broadband

  • Speed and Reliability: The FTTP currently has rates of up to 900Mbps in the UK because it is pure fibre. It is not affected by sharing with neighbours, and there are no copper wires that can reduce the internet speed. This speed allows super-reliable video calls and exquisite streaming experience and is not affected by demand saturation and distance.
  • Cost: This ultrafast internet connectivity comes at a price, so users should opt for the broadband package that meets their needs and is affordable.
  • Availability: The FTTP availability is a postcode lottery for now, with network carriers currently trying to install the infrastructures around the country.

Which broadband should I get?

Choosing between FTTC and FTTP broadband, both upgrades of the ADSL, may not be so straightforward because individual preferences depend on why you want to use the internet. For households not looking for breakneck speeds but settling for good internet connectivity to play games, watch YouTube videos, and just basic surfing on the internet, the financial sacrifice of an FTTP broadband may not be worth it. FTTP broadband is worth the sacrifice for businesses currently on the winning side in the postcode lottery for FTTP availability.

The FTTP broadband has insanely ultrafast internet speed that the superior bandwidth of the FTTP offers, which allows seamless hosting of businesses online. The post-covid work environment shift has also turned homes into offices with remote working, creating the need for ultrafast internet connectivity suitable for video calls and meetings. In conclusion, FTTC and FTTP broadband offer fast internet connectivity, but with different speeds, reliability, cost and availability in the desired location. The onus lies on the customer to make a proper comparison of the different types of broadband available and at other places, which is what Broadbandproviders do effectively.

Broadbandproviders offer the best platform to check the availability of broadband based on your postcode or compare the cost of installation and monthly fees of any of the numerous ISPs in the UK. We also provide the best comparison service and will be glad to help you decide which one is the most suitable for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between FTTC and FTTP broadband?

Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) is a pure optic fibre cable broadband that runs directly from the exchange to individual properties. At the same time, Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC) is a part of fibre broadband that uses the optic fibre cables to the telephone exchange cabinet and copper wires to connect to individual properties.

What is the speed of the FTTP broadband?

FTTP broadband offers download speed plans between 12Mbps and 1000Mbps (1Gbps).

What is the difference between Network Carrier and Internet Service Provider?

A network carrier provides the physical infrastructure through which electrical signals pass, while the Internet Service Provider provides access to the internet.

What is the cost of FTTP broadband compared to FTTC broadband?

The installation and monthly payment of the FTTP broadband are more expensive than the FTTC broadband.

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