When shopping around for broadband deals, you will see a lot of attention paid to speed. Words like ‘Superfast’, ‘Ultrafast’, ‘Hyperfast’ and others will be highlighted or given prominence on the page. There is no doubt that speed is important when selecting your next broadband contract but what do those terms actually mean? Jamie Kavanaugh, writer for Broadband Genie, fibre broadband experts.
The UK government recently introduced a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband. This gives people the legal right to request a minimum of 10Mbps broadband using FTTC, FTTP or mobile broadband. While a good starting point, the following technologies deliver more if you can get them.
Superfast broadband uses Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) where at all possible. This means using fibre optic cables to your nearest street cabinet and the existing connection to your home.
Superfast broadband is commonly regarded as an FTTC connection offering speeds of between 30Mbps and 80Mbps. The actual speed you receive depends on how far from the street cabinet you are. If you receive the fastest speed, a superfast connection would allow you to download an album in around 30-60 seconds, an HD TV show in around 10 minutes and an HD movie in around 30 minutes.
Ultrafast broadband is a progression over superfast and uses Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) or Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). The FTTC connection is the same as for superfast broadband. An FTTP connection means your property is connected directly to the fibre network.
Ultrafast broadband is regarded as enabling speeds of more than 300Mbps. For FTTC connections, your actual speed will depend on your distance from the street cabinet. FTTP connections have no such limitations. At the minimum achievable speed you could download an album in around 10 seconds, an HD TV show in around 1-2 minutes and an HD movie in less than five minutes.
Hyperfast broadband uses either G.fast or Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). G.fast is a new technology that uses existing copper telephone lines to deliver up to 330Mbps connections. It is limited by the requirement for properties to be less than 500m from a cabinet and is being scaled back in favour of FTTP, but is available in some areas. FTTP will deliver in excess of 500Mbps and is expected to break the 1Gbps barrier in the near future.
Hyperfast broadband is currently limited in locations right now but will expand rapidly over time. At the minimum of 500Mbps, you could expect to download an album in 3-5 seconds, an HD TV show in under a minute and an HD movie in less than 2 minutes.
The one thing to remember about these terms is that they are no universally defined standards. Ofcom may expect certain speeds but there is no legal definition of the terms used. Make sure to check the actual speed you will receive rather than these terms.