When we first come to look at getting a broadband service it’s often quite confusing. We have to choose between ADSL, mobile broadband, and fibre optic broadband.

This guide will talk through the different types of broadband and then explain how fibre optic works, the kind of speeds you’re likely to get and why it is the best out there at the moment.

ADSL Broadband

ADSL broadband is delivered through the copper cables of the BT Telephone Network.  This type of broadband is available to the majority of the UK and is therefore the most popular service around.

Standard ADSL offers speeds of around 2 to 8 Mbps.  ADSL 2 offers speeds up to around 16Mbps and ADSL 2+ offers speeds up to 24Mbps. 

Speeds vary a great deal on ADSL because the internet data slows as it passes down the copper cables of the BT infrastructure.  The further you are from the telephone exchange that the data is coming from the slower the connection you are likely to get.  This is the reason for the phenomenon where rural locations sometimes struggle to get any sort of decent connection through ADSL broadband.  If you’re around the corner from the telephone exchange then you can get a pretty good service.

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband is delivered through the mobile operator networks such as Vodafone, Everything Everywhere, O2, and Three Mobile.  Traditionally, mobile broadband has been seen as fairly poor quality and intermittent.  The speeds were not sufficient for streaming movies and doing many of the activities that we like to do on our home broadband.

However, the situation has changed somewhat.  We now have the fourth generation of mobile broadband—4G, taking over the third generation of mobile broadband—3G. 

What does 4G mean?

4G means to the consumer a greater speed and reliability.  Everything Everywhere already have the network rolled out to around 50% or 60% of the UK and the other operators are following suit in their own roll outs, which are anticipated to reach around 98% or 99% of the population.

4G connectivity can hold speeds up to around 14.4Mbps, which is 10 times faster than 3G.  With enhancements, this will get faster and faster.  Streaming, multiplayer gaming, and multiple persons on the same connection are becoming more possible through mobile broadband.  Indeed, we now have MiFi devices as well and these provide the opportunity for up to five devices to jump on to the same mobile broadband connection simultaneously.  Therefore, your mobile broadband can actually take a position in the home much like fast broadband does.

The Types of Fibre Optic Broadband

There are two main types of fibre optic connection.

  • Fibre-to-the-Home / Premises
  • Fibre-to-the-Cabinet


Fibre-to-the-Home means that the cables of the broadband go all the way into the home.  This means that there’s no loss of speed at any point along the data transfer journey and consumers tend to get close to the advertised speed rate.


With Fibre-to-the-Cabinet the fibre  cable goes to the local street level cabinet and then the rest of the journey of the internet data is through copper cables. This means that the last leg of the journey can witness some data speed loss which results in slightly slower speeds.

The Speeds in Fibre Optic Broadband

Fibre Optic Broadband is termed superfast broadband.  It involves speeds upwards of 24Mbps and some businesses packages go up to 1GBps.  On a consumer retail basis, speeds tend to be between 30Mbps and 100Mbps.  The speed you will get will depend on the package you buy and the provider you choose. 

Virgin Media have the fastest retail broadband that is widely available at around 100Mbps.  But their speeds tend to reach upwards of 90Mbps on average.  BT is probably the second fastest with speeds around 80Mbps.  This is in contrast to the ADSL connectivity that many of us can get and means that there should be no slowing of activities either on a single user or multi user basis.

Heavy consuming internet families can enjoy their experience without any sluggishness or stuttering.

Why fibre optic broadband is the best?

Fibre optic broadband is more expensive than some of the other options on the market; however, you’ll not normally have to pay for landline rental if you don’t want to because you’re not using the copper cables of the BT Network.  This can save you £10+ per month straight away.  If you get fibre optic broadband as part of a package, such as with Sky TV, you can get some really good deals. 

Fibre optic broadband provides the fastest speeds, generally has the best reliability and you can get some really good allowances.  Do watch out for fair usage policies, as Virgin Media sometimes restrict people’s usage during certain times of the day, or if they have hit certain usage caps (even on “unlimited” packages).

By choosing an unlimited fibre optic broadband package you’re set for a seamless internet experience doing just about whatever you want to do.

Top tip

Make sure that you get the set up correct. With ADSL you need to have the broadband router linked off the main telephone socket. This is normally the one nearest the entrance to the house. Get your microfilters on too, or you will likely experience instability. If you are having problems with your connection then speak to your provider and ensure that there are no line or exchange problems. There is no point you going through a serious troubleshooting process if the faults are outside your control.


If you are connecting wirelessly there are a host of issues that might arise. These can generally be classified as:


Electronic interference issues

Issue cause by electronic device impeding the signals from the router


Interference from other devices

Wireless baby monitors, boilers and radios can all interfere. Other people’s broadband connections can also affect your signal.


Physical Obstructions

Don’t put your router in a cupboard. Walls and ceiling that are dense or have chicken wire in them can also affect connectivity on a wireless basis.


 The three main solutions to wireless connectivity issues are:


  • Plug in with an Ethernet Cable
  • Use a Home Plug System
  • Get a Signal Repeater

And finally............. enjoy the best internet connection in the world!

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