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Is fibre optic worth it?

(7 Posts)
Fragglewump Wed 18-Sep-13 09:20:59

We live in the sticks and our broadband is snail slow. This affects our iPads, laptops, in demand from sky etc. so I'm seriously considering getting fibre optic but it is pricey!! Does this do everything our normal wifi does? Any help much appreciated. Thank you.

Snorbs Wed 18-Sep-13 12:58:35

The difference between "fibre optic" broadband and "normal" broadband is down to the fact that fibre optics can carry data across huge distances with no appreciable issue. Copper cabling (ie, the copper cables that your telephone and broadband use) is much more affected by distance and the longer the cable the slower it is.

With normal broadband, your connection goes over copper telephone wires from your house, to the nearest junction box in the street, and from there all the way back to your local telephone exchange. Those copper wires are then gets plugged in to a big multi-line modem and that converts your connection to fibre-optic to then be connected to the Internet. As the length of copper wire could potentially be miles long this affects the data rates that you can get.

With (most) fibre optic broadband, your connection still goes over copper telephone wires to the nearest junction box. But it's converted onto fibre in the junction box. That means that the length of copper cabling is reduced considerably and so speeds are higher.

With Virgin fibre optic broadband, the fibre connection is in your house so speeds can be higher still.

Whether it's worth changing depends primarily on how far you are from your nearest junction box that's been upgraded to support fibre broadband. Your Internet service provider (Sky?) should be able to give you an estimate of the speed you'll get.

Fragglewump Wed 18-Sep-13 15:00:03

Wow snorbs thanks for that! So Virgin has higher speeds than BT and sky? I thought it all used BT infrastructure?

Snorbs Wed 18-Sep-13 16:02:52

I've just done some checking and it turns out I was wrong about Virgin. Virgin doesn't do fibre all the way to your house. Apologies for getting it wrong.

What Virgin does is fibre to their own junction boxes and then use co-axial copper cable from there to your home. Everyone else uses bog-standard telephone grade twisted pair cabling. The co-axial cables that Virgin uses are higher quality cabling than the basic telephone grade cabling.

Virgin can offer higher speeds due to the higher quality of the co-ax cables they use vs the BT telephone cables everyone else uses. But Virgin isn't available in all areas. If Virgin covers your area then it will probably offer you the highest performance. If you throw in cable TV and telephone service as well they may well be quite competitive with your current Sky package.

If you're just looking for broadband though and are more interested in bang-per-buck than outright speed, or Virgin isn't available where you live (which may well be the case if you're in a rural area) then you might get a better deal by going for fibre broadband from someone else. I use PlusNet for both fibre broadband and telephone service and have been with them for years. They're pretty good.

Cindy34 Fri 20-Sep-13 20:01:35

When changing from ADSL to FTTC (Fibre to the big green junction box at the end of the street) download speed went from 3 meg to 78 meg. So a huge difference.

Do you know what services are available in your area? Does your village have the big green fibre boxes installed? How close are you to one, as you want to be near so that the cable length from the box to you is short.

Naoko Sat 21-Sep-13 23:57:52

It can make an absolutely massive difference. FTTC (not Virgin, which isn't available here) became available in my area a few months ago and I switched to it the same week not that I'd been obsessively watching the coverage map or anything and we went from 1mb speed on a good day to 72. Which, practically, means watching streaming video like netflix or iplayer in any sort of appreciable quality is now actually a viable proposal, if I want to buy a new game on steam and download it I can just do so and expect to play it in the next half hour, rather than have to set it downloading and come back to it tomorrow, and if anything I use needs to update, that software update, even if it's a big patch, will download in the time it takes me to make a cup of tea, rather than actually inconvenience me.

I'm actually saving money as well over my old slower broadband as I was on a really shit deal before, but if you're already on a decently priced deal I can see it might be a little more expensive for you. Doesn't need to be bad though, there's some very reasonably priced fibre deals going around. I'm on an all singing all dancing superfast unlimited deal because we're a gamer household so very fast unlimited lag free gaming prioritised traffic is important to us, but I appreciate that's a bit niche, and not necessary for the average person!

Floralnomad Sun 22-Sep-13 00:02:03

We have just switched from snail pace AOL to BT Infinity 2 and its brilliant . We also got a really good deal.

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