Fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband explained

What is fibre to the premises (FTTP) and do you need it?

More than 17 million households can now get full fibre, often called 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP) broadband. It's touted as more reliable than standard fibre and can offer speeds 30 times faster. Here's what you need to know, plus how to check if you can get FTTP.

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.

It's available to around 60% of households right now, with a target of reaching around 85% of households by December 2026.

Yet if you don't have it, you'll likely have 'fibre to the cabinet' (FTTC) broadband, which involves running fibre cables from the exchange to a box on the street, then running copper wires in to your home from the box. This offers speeds of up to 80Mb and is available to 97% 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.

Quick questions

  • I want ultrafast speeds, can I get them without FTTP?

    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 60% 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 just under three 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.

  • Can I still have a landline?

    Old copper telephone wires are gradually being upgraded to fibre over the UK which means your landline, if upgraded, will start to use internet connection to make phone calls - known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or by its branded name, Digital Voice. Some providers offer this, but not all, so you might be left without a phone line entirely if you switch to one that doesn't.

    Digital Voice will offer improved call quality and better connectivity as technology continues to advance – but there are downsides, including being unable to make calls if there's a power cut.

  • Will I have to transfer to FTTP?

    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.

    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.

Can I get FTTP (full fibre) broadband?

Openreach (which is owned by BT) runs the largest FTTP network, so we've mainly focused on that here. It's currently available to 17 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.

How can I get FTTP broadband?

If you've already checked if FTTP is available at your address, the next step is to find a provider offering FTTP packages. All of the big names these, as do smaller, local AltNet providers.

Once chosen, it's likely you'll need an engineer to set it up for you and you'll usually be asked to select an installation date at the point of ordering.

On your installation date, an engineer will run a fibre optic cable from a nearby telegraph pole or underground to a small junction box that's installed on the wall of your property. Another cable will then be run inside to a small, powered, wall-mounted unit that your router will be plugged into.

Since drilling is usually involved, if you rent your property, make sure that you get written permission from your landlord to drill a small hole from the outside to the inside of your building.

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.

See How to boost your broadband speed for ways to max the speed you are currently getting. 

  • Your area not on the roll-out plan? Join with neighbours and apply for help to fund it

    If Openreach tells you your address isn't part of its plan, then you might be able to sign up to its Community Fibre Partnership if there is enough interest in your area. This essentially means you club together with your neighbours and pay for your own cables to be laid, with Openreach contributing some of the costs.

    It'll also advise on any grants you might be able to get to help pay for your part from, for example, local authorities or the Government.

    To get an idea of how much it'll cost, register your interest and Openreach will be able to provide a quote for the work that's required to get your area connected.

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Can I switch providers if I have FTTP broadband?

Yes, if you're out of contract you can easily do a broadband comparison and 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.

Providers offering FTTP on the Openreach network

Amvia | Andrews & Arnold | Aquiss | BT | Cerberus | Your Coop Broadband | EE | Fastnett | | Giganet | ID Net | Internet Central | LCC Communications | Ogi | Pine Media | Plusnet | Sky | Structured Communications | Syscomm | TalkTalk | Uno | Utility Warehouse | Vfast | Vodafone | Zen

Northern Ireland only: Fleur Telecom and AAISP 

Quick questions
  • What about smaller, local FTTP providers?

    Separate from Openreach's network, there are now many smaller providers, including...

    • Zzoomm (various towns and cities)
    • Freedom Fiber (parts of Cheshire and Stoke-on-Trent)
    • Lightning Fibre (East Sussex, including Hastings and Eastbourne) 
    • Netomnia (various towns and cities, including Durham and Peterlee) 

    These have laid down their own fibre cables, and they also offer home FTTP packages. They 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.

  • Can I change back to FTTC?

    If your area has been upgraded to FTTP, it's likely the network has switched off its fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connection, so you might not be able to switch back to it. But, do bear in mind that when FTTP is installed at your property, the cables and connection are also upgraded, so you might face a costs to change this back.

    If you ONLY have FTTP, where there's no copper wires (common with new-build developments) then you'll only be able to switch between providers that offer FTTP.

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

new-build development

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 shouldn't 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.

Live in a Persimmon or Charles Church development? You may be limited to one provider

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 36Mb and 500Mb and costs £29/mth-£47/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.

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 Plusnet. 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.

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