Broadband technology evolves at such a rate that you could be forgiven for being more than a little confused about some of the terminology. If you don’t know your FTTC from your FTTC, then that is quite understandable.
Internet connections are bound by a contract with the customer, but not all connections are created equal. Aside from ISP and speed bundles, there is also the matter of how it’s delivered to your home.
At Broadway, we want you to be fully informed so that you don’t walk into a contract and internet service that isn’t fit for your purposes. So you know the ins and outs of broadband, we have put together this quick overview of the different types of internet connections, and how they stack up against each other.
What is FTTC?
FTTC stands for “fibre-to-the-cabinet”, and is the most common type of internet connection at home. Internet service providers will transfer access to the internet from their nearest exchange point, and send it through fibre optic wires to roadside cabinets.
You’ve likely seen these before without realising it – they look like large green or grey double-doored safes. From these cabinets, the supply is then transferred through copper wires into your home.
How Fast is FTTC?
Speed, whilst capped by technology, is ultimately determined by your ISP and the specific network they use to provide internet service. Most ISPs use the Openreach networks and offer three tiers of speed, the highest being 76Mbps. On its own, this is not terrible and should be able to provide households and small to medium businesses with a stable connection for everyday tasks.
It is possible to get higher, however. Nonetheless, there are other considerations other than speed when it comes to FTTC.
What are the Pros of FTTC?
The following are the pros of FTTC:
Cost – FTTCs are very cost-effective connections as they utilise pre-existing telephone wires, and require little in the way of maintenance.
Mass availability – Telephone wires are everywhere, and as a result, so are roadside cabinets. It’s rare to be in a part of the country without these.
What are the Cons of FTTC?
The following are what are seen to be the common flaws with FTTC:
Copper Wires – FTTC internet is transferred from the roadside cabinet to your house via copper wires, which are much slower than fibre optic wires. As a result, the further away you are, the slower your internet. The roadside cabinet’s shared use is the main drawback of this type of connection.
Shared Connection – The roadside cabinet is sending out internet connections to a wide array of homes in the area. During peak hours, this creates a strain and you essentially have to “compete” for connection to the internet. This results in lower download speeds, slower response, and higher latency.
Lack of Oversight – Service level agreements ensure sustained uptime and dedicated monitoring/maintenance. Look at any business internet connections and other private internet services, and you’ll regularly see this is in place, but not so much for FTTC.
What is FTTP?
FTTP stands for “fibre-to-the-premises” and is used interchangeably with the term FTTH (fibre-to-the-home).
The primary feature of FTTP is that it dispenses with the roadside cabinet and its copper wire connection and instead opts to bridge the connection directly between the exchange point and the premises it wants to connect to the internet. It does this with fibre optic wire. The science is complicated, but simply put, copper wires transmit data through electricity, and fibre optic wires transmit data through light.
The last letter of the FTT acronyms dictates where the last mile will be, but that’s harder to determine than FTTP, as it consists of a series of fibre optic wires from the ISP directly to your home.
How fast is FTTP?
FTTP is capable of amazing levels of speed. It is easy, by far, the main draw to this type of connection. An internet package with FTTP can reach speeds as high as 1000Mpbs, making it more than 10x the speed of your average FTTC.
What are the Pros of FTTP?
Speed – This shouldn’t be a surprise. The direct connection between ISP and house makes for a connection that is as powerful as it is consistent. With the dismissal of the shared roadside cabinet, your speeds will no longer be affected by peak time factors. The direct, stable fibre optic wire will prevent the ebb and flow of your connection.
Future Proof – The fact of the matter is that next to nobody requires 1000Mbps. That’s a good thing, however, as this means that you’ll never be behind or have speed issues on FTTP.
What are the Cons of FTTP?
Cost – Copper wire is very inexpensive. Fibre optic wire is costly, and there is a lot of installation work that has to happen before this service is available to households.
Lack of availability – FTTP is all well and good, but for a good chunk of UK households, it currently isn’t available. The reason for this is that the installation of fibre wire from ISPs to your local areas takes a lot of work, whereas FTTC makes use of pre-existing telephone wires.
FTTC vs FTTP – Is there any competition?
An overview of both modes reveals a couple of things. Firstly, FTTC is considered to be the weaker of the two options, and where it is available, FTTP is by far the best option.
That said, you may not have the option of FTTP in your location, and then there are the cost considerations. FTTP is understandably more expensive, as it utilises fibre wire from the ISP to your residence.
Nonetheless, there is still no competition for one reason not yet mentioned – the retirement of the copper network. In 2023 all sales of services using copper wire will be suspended. Openreach has been expanding the distribution of fibre wire, and by 2025 they aim to have the entire UK running on them. As a result, copper wire is going away.
What if you’re looking to get internet beyond 2023, however, and there’s no FTTP available in your area? The good news is you won’t be impacted at all by the change – you will still have access to FTTC internet until it has been replaced.
In the end, the choice is yours. But with Openreach declaring copper wire to be an old relic, they want rid of, soon enough there won’t be one. As a result, we recommend switching to FTTP as soon as possible. Get in touch with us to find out more.