Superfast Broadband

Superfast Fibre Broadband

Plockton BT exchange has now implemented superfast fibre optic broadband. Maximum speeds vary depending on provider, but for example, BT Infinity 2 downloads at up to 79Mbps (megabits per second). My recent test achieved 74Mbps.

This is definitely an upgrade on our old ADSL Max, which is still available — up to 8Mbps. Almost always, less, depending on the distance from the exchange. Technical details are at the the foot of this post.

What does this mean practically?

For email, attachments go faster. Web pages load quicker, but not hugely so. (So many other nodes between your browser and the remote website.) Downloads of large files, programs etc will be much quicker. Upload speed is much quicker.

But the major benefit is media.

On a Sky box, or similar, under slower broadband, you would download a movie in the afternoon and watch it in the evening, after the 2.8GB HD file, typically, has downloaded.

With superfast, you just choose your movie, and within a minute, it’s available to view (it’s streaming down, but has done enough in that time to start watching. This includes HD, High Definition.)

Or, if you have many in the household, all on their devices, there is much greater bandwidth for everyone.

Next Steps

If you don’t wish to upgrade, make sure that you are on your fastest possible ADSL. Phone your provider, ask that you are moved to the fastest ADSL, same price or less.

To upgrade, go to one of the price comparison websites. For example, uSwitch, MoneySuperMarket, broadbandchoices, comparethemarket.com.

You should be making your choice based on, not just broadband, but telephone calls, TV and mobile.

All-in-one may be best. (But consider sports requirements: eg BT Sports and Sky together.)

ADSL Max will continue to be sold, and taken by those not aware. But you should be getting faster. And the price difference is not great.

Mobile Reception

In Plockton, we are still on 2.5 but will probably get 4G soon. 5G is a long time away.

Technical

The UK telecoms network has used fibre for backhaul for a long time now. Backhaul is the network between exchanges.

Now fibre has come to the cabinet, FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet).

There are two cabinets in Plockton, cabinet #2 outside Edmunds, #1 at Burnside.

So it’s fibre backhaul to the exchange (at the Station), then the recently installed (digging up the road) fibre to the cabinets.

But from the cabinets, it’s still copper to your house, which slows the signal down. Significantly, but by how much, is determined by distance.

FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) may be a long term goal of governments. (All fibre, no copper, hugely expensive.)

If you are close to a cabinet, good news. If you are at the end of a long copper loop, you won’t get the same benefit, but still, much faster.

Please note: if you are on a long loop, BT Infinity 2 (up to 79Mbps) may not give you any benefits. Your speed may drop to Infinity 1 (up to 52Mbs). In which case, that would be the best, and cheaper, option. But enquire first.