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Useful information on Ultrafast Broadband

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Ultrafast Broadband

When most communications and internet service providers talk about ‘ultrafast’ broadband, they are usually referring to services that can deliver speeds of between 100Mbps and 300Mpbs download speeds. However, providers often use different terms to describe their services and some only talk about ‘ultrafast’ as being between 300Mbps and 1Gbps (gigabit).

That said, as long as the technology delivers the expected speed, there is no real need to be concerned or to go into too much detail or worry about the exact meaning of the term ‘ultrafast’. Rather, it’s the service provider’s promise of what kind of speed and reliability they can deliver that matters.

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What does Ultrafast Broadband Mean?

The first question you need to ask yourself is what does ‘ultrafast’ really mean to me? If you believe that you need the highest possible speed and bandwidth available, you need to be looking at services that can go up to or even beyond 1Gbps. These will tend to be ‘full fibre’ or fibre to the premises (FTTP) services. These are not available everywhere at present. Indeed, the latest figures estimated that, by the middle of 2020, full fibre services were availability to only around 15% of premises in the UK.

This statement from Ofcom, from December 2019, provides a snapshot of coverage for ultrafast services in the UK at the present time. There will be further updates on this and the roll-out of ultrafast is steadily accelerating. By 2025, most businesses in the UK should be able to access an ultrafast or full fibre service that offers speeds of at least 300Mbps and up to 1Gbps.

Once you have decided what kind of performance you need (and it may be wise to take third-party advice on that if you are unsure about how to assess your current and future needs yourself), you need to establish whether or not that kind of service is available where you are located.

If it is, you then need to look in some detail at the service levels and guaranteed availability the provider offers. If you need this kind of speed, you will certainly have a high degree of dependency on your ultrafast connection, so you will need it to be ultra reliable.

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What is Ultrafast Broadband?

In today’s market, there are a number of services that are described as being ‘ultrafast’, and in general they will be using one of two forms of broadband technology. The first is GFast, which is a variation on fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) or ‘superfast’ broadband that boosts the signal strength between the on-street cabinet and the business premises.

With GFast, special equipment is fitted inside the junction cabinet that acts as the local hub for all broadband connections and voice lines. Junction cabinets are the green boxes you can see on the street or at various points around industrial estates. This equipment changes the frequency of transmission through the copper wire that runs between the cabinet and your premises and effectively speeds it up.

GFast can boost theoretical download speeds to over 300Mbps and it is available in quite a lot of locations now, so this could well be an option for many businesses that have a need for much higher speeds from time to time. The only limitation of GFast is that you need to be within about 500 metres of the local cabinet.

The second technology usually referred to as ‘ultrafast’ is fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology. FTTP provides a fibre connection all the way to your business premises. That means there are no real bottlenecks – certainly not in terms of the carrier technology.

The only possible delay you might encounter is through contention of bandwidth. With broadband, the physical lines are always shared between a number of customers. If there are too many businesses trying to make use of the same available bandwidth at the same time, it can result in a slow-down in performance.

However, with ultrafast services that is an extremely rare occurrence. With the relatively low number of FTTP connections that are in place today in the UK, it’s unlikely to become an issue in the foreseeable future.

FTTP can deliver download speeds of up to 1Gbps, so once it is installed, it is capable of providing exceptionally high performance.

The drawback with FTTP is that it has to be physically installed to your premises. This means that, with the few exceptions where fibre connections and cabling have been pre-installed in a building or industrial unit, fibre optic cable will need to be laid between the junction box and your premises.

This is can take time and be costly. If FTTP is what you really need, you will be well advised to look into it in some depth before you commit. While the roll-out is continuing, as mentioned earlier, FTTP is only available to around 15% of the UK at the moment.

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Ultrafast Broadband Providers

In theory, every ISP should be able to offer ultrafast business broadband services, but not all of them do. As we mentioned earlier, reliability and availability are going to be key if you are running a service that delivers this kind of speed, so you will almost certainly want to look at an established and trusted provider, such as BT.

With BT you will also find that there are a good range of options available. There are other providers of ultrafast services but many tend to be quite niche and offer limited coverage, so when it comes to ultrafast fibre broadband services you may be better off sticking with the market leader.

In terms of pricing, ultrafast services are never going to be the cheapest, but they are up to five time faster than a ‘superfast’ connection, so the extra you can expect to pay will deliver a great deal more. If you do want an FTTP service, you may need to be ready to contribute to the cost of getting the fibre optic cable physically installed to your premises.

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