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Fibre or full fibre broadband? Tech-hungry homebuyers will know the difference

Fibre optic cables are the future of broadband (Image: Shutterstock)
Fibre optic cables are the future of broadband (Image: Shutterstock)

In our increasingly tech-rich homes, fast, reliable broadband has become the fourth utility, as important as water, heating and electricity. Home buyers, particularly in new builds, are asking more questions about broadband and want to make sure they are getting full fibre.

Yet there’s a significant misunderstanding about full fibre and whether consumers even know they have it. According to YouGov, 35.5% of UK adults weren’t sure if their broadband connections were full fibre. And Ofcom found that only 46% of customers who reported being on it were living in areas where it’s actually available. Which means more than half of customers think they have full fibre when they don’t. So, what’s causing this knowledge gap?

When is full fibre not full fibre?

The confusion stems from the way the term ‘fibre’ is used. Some providers bandy about terms like ‘super-fast’ or ‘ultra-fast’ fibre broadband, inaccurately giving the impression they are using the best technology. There’s a lot of fake fibre talk around.

Ofcom says that more than 27% of broadband customers lacked confidence in understanding the terminology so it’s no wonder the regulator has announced proposals for new guidance. In future, broadband providers would only be able to use the term full fibre if their network uses fibre-optic cables all the way from the exchange to the home.

ADSL broadband. As basic as it gets.

ADSL stands for ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’ and the connection works via the copper wires in a landline. It uses copper cables along the whole route from the exchange to the cabinet to the home. This is the most basic form of broadband and can be very unreliable.

FTTC. Often confused with full fibre.

Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) is where fibre-optic cables run from the exchange to the cabinet (the green box at street level) but copper cables go into to the home. Copper slows everything down, reducing the reliability of the connection because the cable is shared with neighbours and simply isn’t as fast as fibre-optic.

Full fibre. The real thing.

Full fibre, also known as FTTP (Fibre to the premises) or FTTH (Fibre to the home), is the state of the art broadband technology. It uses fibre-optic cables all the way from the exchange building to the home. The cables use laser signals which means they are considerably faster and more stable and have greater reliability, better energy efficiency and need lower maintenance.

Keeping up with tech-savvy homebuyers

As the government target of 85% of the UK connected to full fibre by 2025 moves closer, buyers will consider properties with inferior broadband to be second best. Once Ofcom’s new guidance on improving broadband information is in place (and it isn’t far off), customers will be much more full fibre savvy. Clearer point-of-sale information, media reporting and regulator action on ignoring the guidance will mean even greater awareness.

Home buyers will want to know that full fibre is available in their new builds, providing the best possible connectivity for their current and future tech needs. As gadget-focused smart homes evolve into intelligent homes (fully integrated systems managed with a single app powered by AI) the need for best-in-class broadband becomes even more important.

A clear message to home buyers that their properties are fit for the future starts with full fibre. Which is why Swish is working with construction industry leaders to deliver a network that is endlessly upgradable and future-proofed for generations.

We’d love to tell you more. Get in touch with us at


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