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What is superfast broadband and should I upgrade?

25 May 2015

Nearly 80% of households in the UK can now get superfast broadband through fibre optic cables. We look at how it works and the benefits of upgrading.

Fibreoptics for broadband
Superfast broadband means quicker downloads and smoother streaming

Superfast broadband (also known as fibre broadband) simply describes any broadband service that offers speeds of more than 24Mbps. 

The higher the number, the faster data can be downloaded to your home – and the more people can access the internet without web pages or streaming video slowing down.

Standard broadband uses old-style copper telephone wires, which can be prone to interference. Also, the further your home is from the local telephone exchange, the more likely you are to suffer much slower broadband speeds

Superfast broadband is different. Delivered over fibre-optic cables that are purpose-built to handle data transmission, it offers for far greater speeds than copper wiring and has no exchange distance issues.

Find out how to use WiFi.

Why choose superfast broadband?

Here are the top reasons for upgrading to superfast broadband:

  • Faster and more reliable

    Superfast broadband means quicker downloads and smoother streaming of video and music as the connection is less likely to stall or drop out. With superfast broadband, you’ll spend less time waiting and more time using the internet.

  • Take full advantage of the internet

    From watching high-definition films and catch-up TV to listening to online radio, making video calls and playing games with others – superfast broadband means you can do lots more online, all without download interruptions or drop-outs. 

  • All the family can use the internet

    Superfast broadband means no more slowdowns when everyone in the house goes online at the same time. You can also have more devices – from smartphones and tablets, to PCs and smart TVs – connected to the internet at the same time.

Can everyone get superfast broadband?

Nearly 80% of households in the UK can get superfast broadband, with a further 5,000 homes and businesses being connected every day. 

The UK Government and local authorities are spending £1.7 billion to help bring superfast broadband to over 95% of the UK by 2017.

Read our guide to speeding up your broadband.

Who offers superfast broadband?

Virgin Media and BT lead the way with superfast broadband. BT’s Infinity boasts speeds of up to 76Mbps, while Virgin Media’s cable packages claim speeds as high as 200Mbps.

Many other broadband providers now offer superfast broadband including TalkTalk, Sky, EE, PlusNet, and John Lewis broadband.

How do I get superfast broadband?

Upgrading to superfast broadband is a little different to buying standard broadband packages. 

If you need fibre-optic cables installed to your home, switching can take a few weeks, but if already installed then it can be done in a few days.

Use the Government’s postcode checker to see if superfast broadband is available in your area, then either contact a new provider or ask your existing provider to upgrade you. You’ll need to commit to a contract – usually 12 to 18 months.

Check to see if you’re in an existing broadband contract before you upgrade.

Read our guide to switching broadband provider.

What does superfast broadband cost?

Superfast broadband can be purchased by itself, or more usually as part of an entertainment bundle that includes TV and home phone services. 

Expect to pay around £20 and upwards for superfast broadband, but you’ll also need to factor in the cost of a phone line that some companies make you take as well, adding an extra £15 or so.

Some companies will charge around £50 as an installation fee, but they’ll supply you with a Wi-Fi router that you use to wirelessly connect all your devices to superfast broadband.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.