Does Fastest Broadband mean Fastest Internet in my area?
Signing up for the Fastest Broadband deal with the most impressive numbers doesn’t necessarily translate to getting the Fastest Internet in my area. Find out what to look out for when shopping around for superfast broadband to better optimise your connection when you need it most. From FTTP to bandwidth, we demystify fast fibre and broadband technology for you.
Fastest Broadband in UK
The fastest broadband in UK homes is currently only available in London. Community Fibre offers a 3Gbps connection to selected areas in London. This by far the fastest internet in any area of the UK - making it three times faster than the fastest broadband deals from the competition.
However, that doesn’t mean that other broadband providers don’t have their own superfast broadband options in the same league. Take a look at how broadband companies stack up in the fast internet speed stakes for homes in the UK.
|UK Broadband Internet Provider||Fastest Average Broadband Speed|
|Community Fibre||3Gbps (3000 Mbps)|
|Virgin Media||1.14 Gbps (1140 Mbps)|
|BT||0.91Gbps (910 Mbps)|
|Hyperoptic||0.9 Gbps (900 Mbps)|
|TalkTalk||0.9 Gbps (900 Mbps)|
|Vodafone||0.9 Gbps (900 Mbps)|
Out of the main broadband providers, Hyperoptic, TalkTalk and Vodafone are essentially tied in fourth place in terms of fastest broadband on offer. BT is faster by a margin of 10 Mbps, which probably won’t be noticeable in day to day real world use. Virgin Media pushes the envelope by offering broadband that is 140 Mbps faster than the competition but even then they fall short of Community Fibre.
With the most recent UK broadband speed averages sitting at around 60 Mbps, you may be wondering how the companies listed above can manage to get the fastest broadband speeds by a wide margin. If you have slow broadband, you might be wondering why you don't have a faster plan. Let's take a look at what types of connection get you the superfast broadband you are looking for.
What is the Fastest type of Broadband?
The fastest type of broadband is known as fibre to the premises or FTTP for short. This type of fast broadband ensures that the connection between the telephone exchange, which routes internet traffic, and the home is made entirely through fibre optic cables. This results in the fastest broadband speeds available for some but, sadly, not all UK homes. You need to check whether FTTP broadband is available in your area, find out how to do so below.
Fastest Broadband in the WorldNASA has the fastest broadband in the world. Reaching speeds of 91Gbps (91,000 Mbps) during testing, NASA’s ESnet service can be 30 times faster than the fastest broadband speeds available in UK homes and over 1000 times faster than recent average UK broadband speeds.
The next fastest type of broadband is known as fibre to the cabinet or FTTC for short. This means that your internet traffic travels through fast fibre optic connections all the way from the telephone exchange to the telecoms cabinet on your street or neighbourhood. From there, your internet traffic will change over to either a coaxial cable or regular phone cable for the final leg of the journey to your home.
It's important to note that coaxial cable connections are physically different from regular phone connections and support faster broadband speeds.
The good news is that as long as you have a broadband type with fibre optic making up at least part of the journey for your internet traffic, you will get faster broadband speeds. This is the case when compared to the ADSL type of broadband which is capped below 20 Mbps. This is due to the slower regular phone wiring that carries your internet data with that type of broadband.
Be aware that having the fastest type of broadband is only the first step in making sure your computers, phones, tablets and smart devices are actually benefiting from the fastest broadband speeds.
Fastest Broadband in my area
With broadband providers installing and using their own connections and infrastructure, you often find that the fastest broadband in your area is defined by your postcode and geography.
What is the Fastest Broadband I can get at My Address?
To accurately find out the fastest broadband you can get at your address, you will need to check a broadband speed map on either the Ofcom website or with the broadband provider you are interested in.
While recent developments in the Openreach fast broadband rollout have increased available speeds in parts of the UK, most of Britain still only has access to slow broadband. Generally speaking, the fastest broadband speeds are accessible in cities and urban areas when compared to more rural areas.
In the Ofcom broadband map example above, you can see that the fastest broadband areas are generally concentrated around big towns and cities. The orange and red areas only have access to much slower broadband speeds. What is worse is that the areas without a colour are either undocumented or only have access to dial up internet which is essentially unusable in this day and age.
It’s worth noting that there will also be fast broadband blindspots for certain postcodes in built up areas. Additionally, even when the fastest broadband is available, it may only be with one company but not another, depending on the connection standard that was rolled out in that area.
What Broadband Speed Do I Need?
The broadband speed you need depends on what you use your internet connection for, how many people are in your household and how many devices are in use at the same time. To help you figure out the broadband speed for you, we’ve broken down the main options to see if you actually need the fastest broadband speeds or not.
|Number of connected devices||Main Internet Uses||Recommended Fastest Broadband Speed|
|Up to 2 devices||Web, email, social media and light streaming (Netflix, ITV player, Disney+)||10-25 Mbps Broadband|
|Up to 5 devices||All the above and online gaming or 4K streaming (Netflix, ITV player, Disney+)||50-100 Mbps Broadband|
|5 devices or more||All the above and large file transfers or streaming your own video content on the web||150-200 Mbps|
As you can see, the absolute fastest broadband speeds listed earlier are not even near the realm of speeds needed to meet current home internet needs.
More importantly, there is also a big difference between gigabit fastest broadband prices, which can reach up to £100 a month for bare broadband, and those for broadband packages ranging from 10 to 200 Mbps. For this reason, the fastest broadband speed you need also depends on your budget.
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Can I Use My Broadband To Work From Home?
While most traditionally remote jobs will have a stated broadband speed requirement, more people are now working from home for jobs that weren’t remote to start with. This means that many people depend on their home broadband connection to be fast and reliable enough to meet their professional needs.
When it comes to deciding whether using home broadband for work is possible, there are two main things to look at:
- Broadband speed: If you are sharing your work internet with family members or flatmates, you should aim to have 50 Mbps broadband or more.
- Bandwidth: The more devices the more they have to share the speed that’s available which could lead to further slow down for those working from home. If this is the case, you could get a second broadband line and dedicate it to work only.
In order to get the fastest broadband and most reliable connection for working from home, you should try to be as near as you can to your internet router. If at all possible, you should connect your computer to your router using an ethernet cable to guarantee the fastest broadband possible on your connection.
What Broadband Speed Can I Get?
The fastest broadband speed you can get depends on the type of internet connection available in your area and the broadband provider responsible for it. Let’s review the different fast broadband connections available in the UK from the infographic above:
- FTTP or Fibre To The Premises reaches speeds of around 1Gbps (1000 Mbps)
- FTTC or Fibre To The Cabinet with coaxial connection reaches 0.3Gbps (300 Mbps)
- FTTC or Fibre To The Cabinet with regular connection reaches 0.08 Gbps (76 Mbps)
- ADSL or Standard Broadband reaches speeds of 0.02 Gbps (17 Mbps)
Where you are located and the broadband companies available in the area are the first two things that will determine the fastest broadband speed you can get.
The next thing that will determine the fastest broadband speed for your devices is how recent and how advanced your home router box is. There is no point in getting the fastest broadband in your area if your router cannot pass on that speed to your connected devices.
What is the Router box for?Your router is what distributes the broadband that comes through the wall to all your connected devices. Routers do this wirelessly over WiFi or through ethernet ports at the back where devices that needed the fastest possible internet can plug into.
Routers are designed around specific WiFi standards which let you know the speed they can actually pass through to computers, tablets, phones and smart devices. The broadband speed routers can transmit is limited by the frequency they operate at and the speed they can handle internally. Check what WiFi standard your router meets, it should be written on its information label.
|WiFi Standard Name||Max Speed per Device||Frequency|
|802.11b or WiFi 1||11 Mbps||2.4 Ghz|
|802.11a or WiFi 2||24 Mbps||5 Ghz|
|802.11g or WiFi 3||54 Mbps||2.4 Ghz|
|802.11n or WiFi 4||100 Mbps||2.4 and 5 Ghz|
|802.11ac or WiFi 5||433 Mbps to 2 Gbps||5 Ghz|
|802.11ax or WiFi 6||3 Gbps to 9 Gbps||5 Ghz|
These standards are a little like 3G and 5G with mobile phones. The speeds listed above are theoretical and are going to be hard to reach even if you have the fastest broadband possible.
Having a fast broadband router and connection is one thing, whether your devices can actually take the faster connection or not depends on what WiFi standard they support. The older the device the less likely it will be able to harness the full range of speeds available nowadays.
What's the deal with 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi?2.4Ghz and 5Ghz are the two radio frequencies internet router boxes use to transmit data to connected devices. 2.4Ghz WiFi travels further but supports slower data speeds. 5Ghz WiFi signals cover a smaller area but can transmit data at faster rates. Many connected devices can connect to either one.
For the time being, the most widespread WiFi standard is 802.11n or WiFi 4 which can transfer data at theoretical speeds of up to 100 Mbps to individual devices. If you want to know what WiFi standard your laptop or tablet are on, you should either check the device information section in its settings, the regulatory text on the back of the physical device or the manual.
The good news is that WiFi standards are backwards compatible. Meaning that no matter your broadband speed or router model, your older device should be able to connect to WiFi or ethernet - albeit at a slower speed.
For this reason, Selectra’s fastest broadband speed recommendation for normal UK households ranges between 10 Mbps and 50 Mbps. Our recommendation is based on the most commonplace fast broadband availability across the UK as well as value for money for home internet users.
My broadband is slow. What can I do?Since internet speed depends on much more than the number of Mbps on your broadband deal, it's worth checking your real world speed and seeing what else you can do to boost your broadband speeds throughout your home.