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Ultrafast broadband is the latest, and fastest, version of broadband available in the UK. Offering lightning fast download and upload speeds, as well as low latency and a reliable service, it’s a fantastic option for households that rely on the internet for their entertainment, socialising and education. While terms like ‘superfast’ and ‘ultrafast’ may sound like they’re just promotional descriptions, they actually have technical meanings.
Last update: November 2022
What is ultrafast broadband?
Technically speaking, ultrafast broadband is internet that offers download speeds of between 300Mbps and 1Gbps. It’s normally delivered direct to homes via fibre optic or coaxial cables.
Standard ADSL broadband connections in the UK generally offer download speeds of between 10Mbps and 24Mbps. This is the slowest option for most UK internet users.
If you opt for a ‘superfast’ broadband connection, you should get speeds of more than 24Mbps but less than 300Mbps. With superfast broadband now available to around 95% of UK properties, this is the most common option for medium and heavy internet users across the country.
|Type of connection||Average download speed|
|Ultrafast||300Mbps – 1Gbps|
|Superfast||24Mbps – 300Mbps|
|Standard||Up to 24Mbps|
Ultrafast broadband of more than 300Mbps and less than 1Gbps is currently only available to around 55%-57% of UK internet users. However, the infrastructure is continually being upgraded to increase coverage and improve access to ultrafast internet, so the network is likely to grow quickly.
What is the difference between ultrafast broadband, superfast broadband and ADSL?
For many years, the main type of internet connection available in the UK was Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, or ADSL. Covering an impressive 99% of homes across the country, ADSL offers speeds of up to 24Mbps, although 10Mbps is probably more realistic for most UK households.
If you opt for ADSL broadband, your data will travel down copper wires, just like your landline phone connection. These copper wires are relatively slow compared to fibre cables, so your connection is never going to exceed 24Mbps.
Fibre broadband uses fast fibre cables to connect your local cabinet to your supplier’s exchange. These cables are able to transfer data significantly faster than copper cables and so speed up the internet on offer considerably.
The connection from your local cabinet to your home will be completed by copper cables. Even so, fibre broadband can offer speeds of up to 300Mbps in some parts of the country. However, it’s likely that most households in the UK will see speeds of between 24Mbps and 76Mbps.
In some areas, fibre broadband can reach speeds of between 100Mbps and 300Mbps. Suppliers that can guarantee these speeds often market their packages as ultrafast, even though they’re not served by full fibre or coaxial cable connections.
If you’re looking for a package that’s fast, reliable and affordable, and don’t need your internet to exceed 300Mpbs, one of these deals could be a great option for your home.
full fibre broadband
Internet suppliers are currently working to upgrade the UK’s broadband infrastructure by laying fibre optic cables from local cabinets to customers’ homes. These full fibre connections are also known as fibre to the premises, or FTTP.
Because no copper cables are involved in the connection, internet speeds are very fast. Some full fibre connections are able to reach speeds of up to 1Gbps.
Full fibre optic internet is only available in some parts of the country. However the infrastructure is always being expanded. So, if full fibre isn’t yet available in your region, it should be soon.
A good alternative to full fibre optic internet is cable internet. This is available from Virgin Media. Like full fibre, cable internet doesn’t use copper wires. Instead, coaxial cables link local cabinets to customers’ homes. Cable internet is also able to offer ultrafast speeds, with some households able to access internet of up to 900Mbps.
Another benefit of cable internet is that it doesn’t require a fixed phone line to be installed. If you don’t need a landline, this means you won’t have to pay for line rental, something that could make your internet connection more affordable.
You can find out if you’re covered by Virgin Media’s cable broadband network by putting your postcode into the supplier’s website or by calling our Broadband Plans. Our experts will be able to check coverage in your area and help you find the deal that’s right for you.
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What are the benefits of ultrafast broadband
The main benefit of ultrafast broadband is its speed. If your average download speed is over 300Mbps, you shouldn’t have any problems downloading, gaming, streaming and video calling online. In fact, multiple people in your household will be able to do all of these things at the same time without anyone having to wait.
The only real downsides to ultrafast internet are its availability and its cost. The service generally costs around £10 – £15 per month more than superfast broadband. This can make it prohibitively expensive for some households.
What’s more, ultrafast broadband is only available in certain parts of the UK. If your region isn’t yet covered by the ultrafast network, you’ll need to wait until the infrastructure is in place before you can upgrade.
- Low latency
- Future proof
What is ultrafast broadband good for?
Ultrafast broadband is ideal for very heavy internet users. So if you like to watch multiple HD, 4K or 8K movies, play online computer games or make video calls, and don’t want to wait for your videos, games or calls to buffer, ultrafast is a great option for your household as opposed to satellite broadband for example.
Ultrafast internet is also an excellent choice for properties with multiple heavy internet users. So, if you live with friends or have teenage children who like to stream, game and call at the same time, an ultrafast connection will ensure there’s plenty of internet for everyone and no one needs to fight over the bandwidth.
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Which providers offer ultrafast broadband?
While most suppliers offer superfast broadband, because ultrafast internet is still only available in a small number of UK regions, not all providers offer ultrafast packages. In fact, if you want to upgrade to an ultrafast connection, there are a relatively small number of options to choose from.
At the moment, the main suppliers offering ultrafast broadband packages are:
- Virgin Media
A number of other smaller suppliers, like Gigaclear and Hyperoptic, are working to roll out their own ultrafast networks using their own cables and infrastructure. However, these providers still only cover very small parts of the country, so it’s unlikely they’ll be available in your area.
Who is the best ultrafast Internet provider?
Currently, Virgin Media has the best ultrafast broadband network in the UK. The provider has been working on its ultrafast network for some time and now serves around 60% of homes in the UK. Discover best Broadband & TV bundle deals
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BT labels its 100Mbps broadband ‘ultrafast’. However, at this download speed, the internet is technically only ‘superfast’. While this will still be more than enough for most people, it may not be good enough for those who need the extra bandwidth.
BT’s true ultrafast internet is only available in a small number of areas, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get the service where you live.
Other providers like TalkTalk, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic also only serve limited geographic areas. You’ll need to check coverage on their websites, or call our Broadband Plans, to see if your region is covered.
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Who provides ultrafast broadband?
The main ultrafast broadband provider in the UK is Virgin Media. The company has been working hard to build its ultrafast infrastructure and now covers around 60% of the UK.
You’ll also find ultrafast broadband packages available from BT, TalkTalk, EE, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic in some parts of the country. However, as these suppliers only cover relatively small geographic regions, it’s unlikely they’ll be available in your postcode.
Can I get ultrafast broadband, and where can I buy it?
The best way to see if you can get ultrafast broadband in your area is to call our Broadband Plans. Our experts will be able to check your postcode to see if you’re covered and then compare available deals to find the best package for your household.
You can also check coverage by looking on your chosen supplier’s website. As Virgin Media has the most extensive ultrafast network, this is probably the best place to start.
What is 'FTTP' broadband? Is it the same as ultrafast?
The term FTTP stands for fibre to the premises. It means that the entire internet connection, from your home to your supplier’s exchange, is made from fibre optic cables.
Because fibre optic cables are able to transfer data much faster than the copper cables used in other types of internet installation, FTTP broadband offers some of the quickest download speeds on the market. In most cases, full fibre broadband will offer speeds in excess of 300Mbps, with some homes able to get up to 1Gbps of download speed.
Is Virgin Media ultrafast better than BT ultrafast?
Virgin Media currently has the most extensive ultrafast network in the UK. It’s able to offer ultrafast broadband to around 60% of homes in the UK and its network is expanding all the time. As a result, Virgin Media is generally the most popular choice for users looking to upgrade their superfast broadband to an ultrafast connection.
BT’s ultrafast network is currently relatively small. While the supplier does offer superfast broadband to large parts of the UK – and occasionally markets this as ‘ultrafast’ – its true ultrafast packages aren’t yet widely available.
Updated on 14 Oct, 2022
Broadband Specialist & Copywriter