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What type of internet connection should I get?

what type of internet connection should I get?

When you are looking for a new internet connection one of the first things you have to consider is what you want from your connection. Thinking about what you use the internet for and identifying key requirements will help determine which option is the right one for you.

As we’re sure you have already realised, there are many options available to you and it can be difficult to know where to start. We understand how daunting this task can be, therefore in this article we will fill you in on the different types of connections available, how they work and why some would opt for one over the other.

What connections are available?

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)

When you say ‘broadband’, this is the service you will be most likely referring to. We’re sure you will remember the old dial up modems when someone using the landline knocked out the internet connection, well ADSL replaced that. It finally allowed you to use your landline phone and internet simultaneously whilst also providing faster speeds and kick started the internet as we know it today. 

ADSL is delivered over the existing copper wire public switched telephone network (PSTN), which has been used to provide telephone services for over 100 years and more recently to deliver the internet. 

ADSL is an asymmetrical connection so it provides you with faster download than upload speeds and as it is delivered using shared network architecture, there is contention for bandwidth. This means there are other people using the same local and national infrastructure for their internet connection therefore the speeds you receive will be dependent on how many people are using the network at any one time.

What speeds can you get?

Speeds vary greatly depending on your location because they are delivered over copper wires the signal quality degrades the further it has to travel. Due to the limitations of the connection they also cannot be guaranteed. As a result, you can expect speeds ranging from anywhere between 0.5Mbps to 24Mbps download and 256Kbps to 1.5Mbps upload.

Lots of things can affect the speed of ADSL, such as the quality of the copper or aluminium line. As a general rule of thumb the further you are from the telephone exchange and the green cabinet you see on most streets, the slower the speeds you will receive.

Is this connectivity best suited to you?

This type of connection offers very limited bandwidth which means it is best suited to you if you typically use the internet for less data-intensive tasks. It will be sufficient if you’re sending emails, browsing the web, downloading very small files and working with small amounts of data. 

It is worth noting that the copper wire PSTN is going to be switched off in the UK by Openreach, with a phased approach due to begin at the end of 2025. Subsequently, if you do not currently have a fibre connection you will need to upgrade this as well as move to a VoIP telephone system.

Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)

When most of us say fibre, this is the connection we mean as it’s the one that is most widely available, but it is not actually fibre. 

FTTC is delivered using fibre optic cable from the provider to your nearest street cabinet but utilises copper PSTN lines for the final section of the journey into your premises.

FTTC is an asymmetrical service so you will still have faster download speeds than upload, however the bandwidth capacity of FTTC is far greater than the ADSL technology and therefore the speeds you receive will be higher. 

Despite this, the speeds you receive cannot be guaranteed and will still vary depending on location due to the last section of the connection being delivered via the copper PSTN. As with ADSL, FTTC is also a shared network connection so your speeds will also be determined by the amount of users also utilising the connection.

What speeds can you get?

Typically an FTTC service will deliver between 40 Mbps to 80Mbps download and 10Mbps to 20Mbps upload.

Is this connectivity best suited to you?

FTTC is widely available throughout the UK, making it suitable as a main connection for you if you need more bandwidth but don’t necessarily require a guaranteed speed. As this connection provides higher speeds than ADSL, it is also a good option for a back up to a leased line. 

As with ADSL, once the PSTN is turned off in 2025/26, FTTC will become virtually obsolete and at the very least you will require FTTP to remain connected.

Gfast

A good way for you to think of Gfast is like FTTC on steroids. It utilises much of the same infrastructure but it is capable of delivering ‘ultrafast’ speeds to you over a short distance from a Gfast enabled cabinet.

So just like FTTC, the first part of your connection is via fibre optic cables from the provider to your nearest street cabinet and then the final section is delivered using the copper PSTN wires into your premises. The key difference is, in this instance your nearest street cabinet is Gfast enabled. This means it has an extra piece of equipment fitted that supercharges the speed through the copper telephone wires to your premises.

Like ADSL and FTTC, the bandwidths are asymmetrical so download speeds are higher than upload. A benefit of Gfast is that your speeds can be guaranteed because there is a minimum requirement the service must achieve. However, it still utilises shared infrastructure so your speeds will vary depending on how many people are online.

What speeds will you get?

Gfast has an ultrafast status and therefore the minimum download speed you would receive is 100Mbps with maximum speeds upto 300Mbps. 

Speeds decrease the further you are from the cabinet, but with Gfast the drop is far more pronounced than with ADSL and FTTC services. For example if you are within 100 metres of a Gfast enabled cabinet you can expect up to 300Mbps download, however if you are 200 metres away from the cabinet, you may only receive 150Mbps.

Is this connectivity best suited to you?

Gfast has a minimum threshold of 100Mbps that it must achieve. If your line cannot support this speed then the service will not be available to you. 

If Gfast is available to you and you’re looking for an ultrafast, consistent and reliable connection without the hassle and upheaval of construction work then this could be the best option. However, it is worth noting that Gfast is a stop gap to FTTP, and is not a technology that is likely to be around for a long time.

Fibre to the premises (FTTP)

FTTP (via Openreach) is a full fibre connection which utilises GPON technology. It still routes from the exchange via the street cabinets but there it connects to a splitter which divides the fibre optic cable between other users on your street before running directly into your premises.

As discussed previously, fibre optic cable is more reliable than copper and has far greater bandwidth capacity, therefore an FTTP connection can provide you with ‘ultrafast’ speeds. 

FTTP is an asymmetrical service so there is still a discrepancy between upload and download speeds. It is also still delivered over shared network architecture so there is contention between users for bandwidth albeit on a much smaller scale than other connections. 

FTTP currently has a limited footprint in the UK but due to the PSTN being switched off, the government and service providers have committed to extending FTTP to virtually every premises in the UK by 2030. This means that if you are able to get FTTP now, you will be future proofing your school or business.

What speeds will you get?

FTTP offers a considerable bandwidth upgrade, so you could expect download speeds in the ultrafast region up to 330Mbps. Upload speeds also get a boost with FTTP connectivity and you could achieve up to 30Mbps.

Is this connectivity best suited to you?

FTTP connections are best suited to you if you have a number of users who use cloud-based applications to upload and download data on a daily basis but don’t transfer large amounts of data.

Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON)

This pure fibre connection provides gigabit technology into your premises using a single fibre that is split and shared between multiple users. It is delivered from the exchange to the GPON splitter which distributes the bandwidth between different users, before finally connecting to the optical network terminal (ONT) at your site. 

GPON is asymmetrical which means you will receive faster download speeds than upload speeds. As it is delivered using shared infrastructure it is a contended service, however this contention is minimal compared to other connectivity types.

What speeds will you get?

As the name suggests, GPON offers gigabit speeds. The speeds on each GPON line can  reach upto 2.5Gbps download and 1.25Gbps upload, however because it is a contended service users are unlikely to receive this.

Is this connectivity best suited to you?

GPON is a great choice for you if you require gigabit speeds but don’t necessarily need them  to be symmetrical. It is becoming more widely available across the UK but may not be immediately available to you yet.

Leased Line

A leased line is your dedicated internet connection and will only be used by you. It is delivered using fibre optic cable directly to your premises from the internet service provider’s (ISP) network. 

When it comes to standard shared lines, the speed and reliability of your connection can depend on the amount of people using the same bandwidth. With a leased line, this isn’t an issue, because it is effectively a private service, you will receive 100% of the bandwidth at all times. 

A leased line is a synchronous connection therefore your upload and download speeds are the same. If you have previously experienced issues with high latency, a leased line helps to reduce this issue. This service offers a much lower latency than the aforementioned connections, which is beneficial to you if you use services such as VoIP and video conferencing.

It can be installed on either a 100Mbps or 1Gbps capacity fibre connection, sometimes referred to as a bearer. The advantage of this is that the ISP can set the active bandwidth and therefore you have the option to increase or decrease the capacity depending on requirements. For example if you only need 50Mbps now but in a year you anticipate this will increase then you could upgrade your speeds further down the line. 

If you’re looking to get a leased line it’s a good idea to consider your future bandwidth requirements before it is installed. Planning ahead and getting a 1Gbps bearer might be the better option if you anticipate the speeds you need will exceed 100Mbps, as this will negate any future construction work.

What speeds can you get?

Speeds range from 10Mbps up to 10Gbps with options available to increase the bandwidth to suit your business’ needs.

Is this connectivity best suited to you?

Leased Lines are best suited to you if you have high bandwidth requirements and need a reliable, uncontended service. It is ideal for you if you regularly carry out large uploads and downloads, use cloud based services and a VoIP telephone system as well as video conferencing, for everyday communication.

Dark fibre

Dark fibre is a unique, fully flexible internet connection. It is an unused fire-optic cable on which your private connection is built. It allows you to have full control of your network equipment and connection settings, ensuring privacy and security. 

Dark fibre gives you the flexibility to increase and decrease your bandwidth at any time without any additional construction – unlike a leased line. For example if you have an event on or large data backup scheduled, you can scale up your bandwidth on demand for that period and then decrease it again once the requirement has ceased.

Dark fibre is fully symmetrical, so upload and download speeds are the same and it provides up to 10Gbps from the day of installation. It is an uncontended service, so you will always receive the bandwidth you have agreed with your provider.

With the aforementioned connections, latency can be an issue because traffic can get bounced around and diverted before arriving at its destination. Dark fibre is one line from your premises directly to the ISP’s point of presence (PoP), so your traffic goes straight from A to B with no interruptions, resulting in improved performance.

What speeds can you get?

Unrivalled speeds are available from 300Mbps up to 10Gbps with faster options available if you require. You are also able to scale up or scale down bandwidth when required. 

The capacity of fibre optic cables is being tested all the time. Most recently in lab conditions, they have been proven to be capable of transmitting data at a rate of 178 Terabits per second. To put that in perspective, that is 23330816 Mbps which is infinitely more than any organisation will need for years to come.

Is this connectivity best suited to you?

Dark fibre connectivity is a fully futureproof option, beyond a leased line. It is perfect if you are looking for a potentially limitless, ultrafast connection with complete flexibility and control. If you are reliant on the internet and your team couldn’t continue to work efficiently if the connection dropped, a dark fibre connection could be the best option for you.

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Is DarkLight connectivity best suited to you?

Dark fibre is perfect if you are looking for a potentially limitless, ultrafast connection with complete flexibility and control.

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

Is Leased Line connectivity best suited to you?

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

It is ideal for you if you regularly carry out large uploads and downloads, use cloud based services and a VoIP telephone system as well as video conferencing, for everyday communication.

Is GPON connectivity best suited to you?

GPON is a great choice for you if you need gigabit speeds but don’t need them to be symmetrical. It is becoming more widely available across the UK but may not be immediately available to you yet.

Is Rural Fibre connectivity best suited to you?

If you want to make the move to full fibre, but are based in a rural area, this option is for you.

Is FTTP connectivity best suited to you?

If you have a number of users who use cloud-based applications to upload and download data on a daily basis, but don’t transfer large amounts of data, FTTP might be your best option.

Is Gfast connectivity best suited to you?

If your line cannot support a minimum of 100Mbps, this connection is not for you. Gfast must meet the speed as a minimum. 

If your line meets this need, and you’re looking for an ultrafast, consistent and reliable connection without the hassle and upheaval of construction work – this could be a good fit.

It’s worth noting that Gfast is a stop gap to FTTP, and is not a technology that is likely to be around for a long time.

Is FTTC connectivity best suited to you?

If you need more bandwidth but don’t really need a guaranteed speed, FTTC could be for you. It is widely available throughout the UK, making it suitable as a main connection. As this connection provides higher speeds than ADSL, it is also a good option for a back up to a leased line.

As with ADSL, once the PSTN is turned off in 2025/26, FTTC will become virtually obsolete and at the very least you will require FTTP to remain connected.

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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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