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FTTC vs FTTP

Fiber Optic cables connected to optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports fttc

Fibre is recognised as a superfast internet connection and has been widely adopted by organisations nationwide. It is a term that is broadly used to describe many internet connections and it can be confusing knowing what true full fibre actually is. 

Here we will look at two types of fibre connectivity; fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) and explain the pros and cons of each. First of all though, what actually is fibre?

What is fibre?

Fibre is best known for delivering superfast broadband to homes and premises worldwide. You may be wondering how, so here we will explain.

This technology uses fibre optic cables – each about the width of a human hair – encased in tubing. Data then passes through these cables in the form of light, which bounces off the inside of the tubing at superfast speeds.

Not only does fibre speed up your internet, it is also much more reliable than copper because the signal doesn’t degrade regardless of how far it has to travel. Whilst there are lots of connectivity types that utilise fibre as their delivery method – the most popular in the UK are FTTC and FTTP.

What is FTTC?

FTTC is a combination of copper and fibre. It utilises fibre from your ISP to the green street cabinet then swaps over to copper a PSTN line for the final part of the journey into your premises. 

However, because it uses unreliable copper wire the signal can degrade so the speeds you receive will be much lower than if you had a full fibre connection. FTTC is a contended service, it uses shared infrastructure to provide your internet connection which may cause you to experience slow speeds especially at peak times.

What is FTTP?

FTTP is an ultrafast full fibre connection. Data still goes via the green street cabinet however the cables used for the entire journey – from your ISP into your premises – are fibre optic. 

FTTP is still a contended service, therefore you may still experience a dip in speeds at peak times, but the good news is that it shouldn’t be as significant or as noticeable as it would be with FTTC. This is due to the fact that fibre provides much more bandwidth than copper as well as much faster speeds.

Speeds you will receive

It’s worth noting that both connections are asynchronous so your download speed will be significantly faster than your upload speed. However in terms of speed that is where the similarities between the two connections ends.

An FTTC service delivers speeds between 40 Mbps to 80Mbps download and 10Mbps to 20Mbps upload. FTTP enhances bandwidth significantly, with some connections reaching 1Gbps, but due to contention you should expect download speeds in the ultrafast region up to 330Mbps. Upload speeds also get a boost so you should receive up to 30Mbps.

Reliability

As both services are contended you may experience occasional downtime or drops in speed. This is more likely to occur with FTTC due to the service using copper wire to deliver the last leg of the connection into your premises.

Availability

FTTC is the most widely used fibre connection and is available practically everywhere in the country. However it is important to mention that the PSTN (copper phone line) is scheduled to be switched off in 2025 and therefore FTTC will no longer be available. 

FTTP isn’t currently widely available across the UK. Whilst work is underway to install this technology in time for the PSTN switch off, the nationwide roll out is a massive undertaking and is going to take some time.

Which should I get?

We would recommend choosing a technology that makes your connection future proof. Ultimately you want something that is upgradable, ensuring it is suitable for now and further down the line. Long-term, the PSTN switch off rules out FTTC, leaving full fibre FTTP as the best option between the two, so if it’s available to you now we’d suggest you make the leap. 

Whilst in this article we have only covered two types of connectivity, at Exa we do have other internet services available. If you’re actively seeking a new ISP or just weighing up your options, our friendly team is on-hand to answer your queries. Don’t hesitate to get in touch and they will be happy to help.

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If you fully rely on the internet, a dark fibre connection could be the best option for you.

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Leased Lines are best suited to you if you have high bandwidth requirements and need a reliable, uncontended service.

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Is DSL connectivity best suited to you?

DSL connections offer very limited bandwidth so it might be right for you if you typically use the internet for less data-intensive tasks. If you’re sending emails, browsing the web, downloading very small files and working with small amounts of data – you should be fine with DSL.

It is worth noting connections based on copper wire, like DSL, will be switched off in the UK by Openreach, with a phased approach due to begin at the end of 2025. If you don’t have a fibre connection at the moment, you’ll need to upgrade this as well as move to a VoIP telephone system.

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