Fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband explained

Fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband explained

How to get FTTP and how to find the cheapest deals

Nearly seven million households can get what's known as fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband, which is touted as more reliable than standard fibre and can offer speeds 30 times faster. We take a look at what FTTP is, if you can get it and how to switch and save.

This is the first incarnation of this guide. If you've any feedback, please let us know in the Fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband MSE Forum thread.

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What is fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband?

Fibre to the premises (FTTP), also known as ultrafast full fibre broadband, involves laying fibre optic cables directly from the broadband exchange right into your home. It can offer speeds of up to 1,000Mb (megabits per second) – around 30 times faster than standard fibre.

Yet it's only available to 24% of households right now, with a target of reaching around 80% of households by December 2026. Most homes are instead connected via what's known as fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), which involves running fibre cables from the exchange to a box on the street, with copper wires connecting your home to the box. This offers speeds of up to 80Mb and is available to 96% of UK homes.

The slowest speeds of around 10Mb come from ADSL, which is available to 98% of homes, and only uses copper wires.

See how it works below, and our Broadband Unbundled tool for the top deals across all speeds.

  • FTTP isn't the only way to get ultrafast broadband. Virgin Media also offers similar speeds. It's not technically FTTP as the cable running from the box into your home is what's known as a 'coaxial' cable (which is mostly made of copper, not fibre). You can get speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, but it's only available to 52% of households – enter your postcode into our Broadband Unbundled tool and it'll let you know if you can get it.

    There's also a technology known as G.Fast. It's still FTTC broadband, but it provides a boost which allows speeds of around 100-200Mbps. It's only available to two million households though. If you can get it, you should see the faster packages when you do a broadband comparison.

    Another way to get ultrafast speeds of around 400Mbps is if you live in a 5G area and have a 5G phone and Sim. You can use this to tether, which essentially means your computer piggybacks off your 5G mobile signal. See our 5G guide for more.

  • Most FTTP deals come without a landline as standard, so if you need a line as well, it'll cost you extra (though some firms don't offer phone lines at all).

Can I get FTTP broadband?

Openreach runs the largest FTTP network, so we've mainly focused on that here. It's currently available to five million households – to check if you can get it, use its availability checker (note, it refers to FTTP as full fibre). It'll also tell you if you already have FTTP and the maximum speeds available to you.

If you can get it, you'll then need to find an FTTP provider – see how to find the cheapest FTTP deal. Your provider will need to come round and complete the installation for you, but there shouldn't be any extra costs on top of the usual set-up fees and monthly payments.

If you can't get it just yet, Openreach will tell you if it's likely to be installed in your area soon. It has a roll-out plan in place and aims to reach 25 million properties by December 2026.

There are smaller alternative networks (also called AltNets) that are laying their own cables, but only in very specific areas. For these, it is best to keep an eye on your local news and adverts.

Consider if you really need the fastest speeds

Remember though, just because you can get ultrafast speeds, it doesn't mean you should – as generally the faster the speed, the higher the cost. Standard (10/11Mb) broadband is usually fine for browsing or light streaming for one person, so don't pay more than you need to. Yet if multiple people use the broadband at the same time, or you're a gamer, it's likely worth shelling out for faster speeds.

Can I still switch providers if I have FTTP?

Yes, if you're out of contract you can easily switch to another provider that supports FTTP, providing it is on the same network (the majority of the biggies, including BT, Sky and TalkTalk, run on the Openreach network).

If your home already supports FTTP, it just means you have the technology that supports 'ultrafast' speeds, but you're not limited to ultrafast packages only. You can have FTTP and still choose to sign up to a standard fibre (around 30Mb) package. It just means it'll be provided to you purely over fibre cables, which should make it more reliable.

  • The following providers offer FTTP packages on the Openreach network:
     
    • Andrews & Arnold
    • Aquiss
    • BT
    • Cerberus
    • Fibre.net
    • Giganet
    • LCC Communications
    • Orbital Net
    • Pine Media
    • Sky
    • Spectrum Internet
    • Structured Communications
    • Syscomm
    • TalkTalk
    • Uno
    • Vodafone
    • Zen
  • Separate from Openreach's network, there are now many smaller providers – including Zzoomm (various towns and cities), VX Fiber (Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Colchester), Lightning Fibre (East Sussex, including Hastings and Eastbourne) and YouFibre (various towns and cities, including Durham and Peterlee) to name a few – that have laid down their own fibre cables, and they also offer home FTTP packages. These providers have targeted very specific areas for their installations and don't yet appear on any price comparison websites.

    It's difficult to know if one of these smaller FTTP networks exists in your area, but you may spot them doing the work or see a local advert.

  • If you don't live on a new-build estate, it's likely you had fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) previously, so you'll likely still have the old copper wires running to your property. Openreach calls these households 'brownfield sites'. In this scenario, Openreach says you'll still be able to access FTTC deals if you want to, which means you can still switch to providers not yet offering FTTP packages, such as Now Broadband, Plusnet and Shell Energy.

    If you ONLY have FTTP, where there's no copper wires (common with new-build developments, which Openreach call 'greenfield sites') then you'll only be able to switch between providers that offer FTTP on the same network. But this list is growing all the time and biggies including BT, Sky and TalkTalk all offer it on the Openreach network – by far the biggest FTTP network – so you should still be able to look around for the best deals.

If you live on a new-build development, you're likely more restricted on choice, but shouldn't be locked to one firm

If you live on a new-build development, chances are you'll have FTTP (via either Openreach, Hyperoptic or another full fibre network), or a cable service that offers ultrafast speeds, such as Virgin Media. As a result, there won't usually be any existing copper network in place, so you'll be limited in the choice of broadband provider you can have.

We sometimes hear from MoneySavers saying they've been told they are locked to one broadband provider and unable to look around for cheaper deals, but we checked with the biggest housebuilders who told us this should not be the case. Barratt, Redrow, Belway and Taylor Wimpey all told us that depending on the network installed (for instance, Openreach), the new homeowner can choose any internet provider that's supported by that network, and you won't be restricted on choice. And as more providers now offer FTTP over the Openreach network, that should become less of an issue if that's your network.

However, if you have Hyperoptic or Virgin Media running to your property, then unfortunately your choices will be even more limited, mostly to that provider – until another network opts to install fibre on your development.

Do let us know if you have any issues by emailing unbundled@moneysavingexpert.com.

  • If you live on one of these developments, you may only have access to the ultrafast FibreNest network, which is wholly owned by Persimmon and delivered by fibre to the premises. It offers speeds of between 10Mb and 500Mb and costs £14/mth-£45/mth. While it means you can get connected straight away, if you're unhappy with the service, or want a cheaper price, you won't be able to switch away from it.

    In time, as the national network expands, new networks may be installed on its developments alongside it, and we've asked Persimmon (which owns Charles Church) to comment on this, but it's yet to get back to us. We'll update this guide when it does.

  • As FTTP continues to be rolled out, Openreach (which installs and maintains the majority of the network) will also look to switch off the old copper network as it'll become too expensive for it to manage. But it won't do this straightaway.

    It'll only look to switch off copper in areas where there's at least 75% coverage of FTTP. If you live in an area where Openreach is looking to switch off the copper network, but it hasn't been installed at your address just yet, you'll be able to keep your existing copper set-up until FTTP becomes available to you.

How can I find the cheapest FTTP deals?

Enter your postcode into our Broadband Unbundled tool to compare FTTP deals. Our tool covers all the major FTTP providers, including BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen. Our tool will compare deals across all of the speeds available to you based on your postcode.

However, as FTTP availability is growing all the time, we have to rely on firms letting us know when it has been rolled out to a new area (which often takes months), so there may sometimes be a lag in showing a particular provider or package in postcodes that have recently had FTTP installed.

We've rounded up the pricing for FTTP packages in the table below to give you a rough idea of how much it'll be and the cheapest providers. These are the firms' regular prices and exclude any special deals (for example, any free vouchers or bill credit on top). These aren't as common with FTTP as with standard-speed broadband deals, but when there are extra incentives, they'll show in our comparison tool.

Cost of FTTP providers available on the Openreach network (100Mb+ broadband-only packages – no line)

Internet Service Provider (ISP) Upfront Cost Speed & Monthly Cost Contract Length Equiv Monthly Cost (1)
Aquiss £0 160Mb - £21 for the first 3mths, then £42 for the remaining 9mths 12 months £36.75
BT £9.99

150Mb - £34.99

500Mb - £44.99

900Mb - £54.99

24 months £35.41 to £55.41
Cerberus £48

150Mb - £42

300Mb - £48

900Mb - £72

12 months £46 to £76
EE £25

100Mb - £39

300Mb - £42

900Mb - £54

18 months £40.39 to £55.39
Giganet £45

200Mb - £59

500Mb - £69

900Mb - £79

12 months £62.75 to £82.75
IDNet £50

160Mb - £35

330Mb - £45

1,000Mb - £55

12 months £39.17 to £59.17
No One £60

100Mb - £39.99

200Mb - £45.99

500Mb - £52.99

900Mb - £62.99

24 months £42.49 to £65.49
OptaNet £0

160Mb - £40

330Mb - £50

550Mb - £60

1,000Mb - £70

24 months £40 to £70
Sky £0

150Mb - £35

500Mb - £45

18 months £35 to £45
TalkTalk £4.95

150Mb - £32

500Mb - £40

18 months £32.98 to £40.28
Vispa £7.95

160Mb - £46

220Mb - £51

330Mb - £62

24 months £46.34 to £62.34
Vodafone £0

100Mb - £24

500Mb - £35

900Mb - £60

24 months £24 to £60
Zen £29.99

100Mb - £38.99

300Mb - £49

500Mb - £56.99

900Mb - £64.99

24 months £40.24 to £66.24

Prices correct as of 2 September 2021. Do note, most FTTP deals come without a phone line as standard, so if you need a line as well, it'll cost you extra (though some firms don't offer phone lines at all). (1) We use 'equivalent prices' – adding all fixed costs, including any set-up fees and averaging over the contract.

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