When they can, Internet services providers (ISPs) are always looking to upgrade the services they can offer in your area. They need to do this because the commercial broadband market is extremely competitive and if they can’t at least match the speeds that are offered in your locality, they won’t win much business.Back to top
What broadband can I get in my area?
Generally, the speeds that they can offer will be dictated by the infrastructure that’s available in your particular area. You’ll be aware that some parts are served better that others when it comes to broadband speeds. There is often a big difference between what you might be able to get in the centre of a city or town and what you can expect in rural or remote parts.
That said, the broadband speeds available can vary widely within urban areas and even from street to street. But as Openreach (the BT-owned company that is responsible for running – and upgrading – the physical infrastructure on which broadband runs) continues with its programme of installing fibre optic cables across the country, higher speed options become available to ISPs. Subsequently, from time to time, you may be offered the opportunity to upgrade to a faster service.
There are plenty of websites that will tell you what’s available in your locality – but typically, they will be trying to sell a particular service or provider to you. Perhaps the best place to start is on the Ofcom broadband and mobile checker page, which you will find at https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/. Click on the red button and follow the instructions to see the variation of speeds available for your post code.Back to top
How to check my broadband speed?
A Google search for broadband speed checkers will give you pages of choices. Some of the best and most reliable include:
- Speedtest – https://www.speedtest.net/
- Speedofme – https://speedof.me/
- Testmynet – https://testmy.net/results
There are scores of others you can use, and most are quite reliable and accurate. Keep in mind that if you are using WiFi to connect to the router, this might have an impact on the test. Results over WiFi can vary quite a bit, especially if you are some distance from the router. Some checkers do also allow you to check your WiFi speed, which can be useful. If you want to get a more accurate reading, use an Ethernet cable to plug your computer directly into your router.
Some of these sites will also show you how you compare to the average upload and download speeds other businesses or homes get in your area, which will give you an idea of whether you could upgrade to a faster speed or not. You might also be asked by some sites to give your current providers name and rate them.
Of course, some of the sites will be peppered with ads and others will try to get you to click through and compare options – which you can do if you want to. They will also add a few more cookies to your browser, but that’s only to be expected. You can always take the trouble to select your preferences at the outset and only allow ‘Essential’ cookies – and clear down tracking cookies with your security software later.
But that’s your call. The bottom line is checking your current broadband speed is dead easy.Back to top
‘ADSL’ stands for Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line; in simple terms, it means ‘standard’ broadband. It simply means that your connection to the network is by a copper wires rather than fibre. Downloads speeds for ADSL2+ (the version most ISPs offer) lines vary between 10Mbps and 30Mbps, so it’s not that fast by today’s terms.
Gradually, as more fibre is laid and fibre-based services become available, there will be fewer ADLS connections. Indeed, in some areas, copper connections are already being phased out. This does not mean that you will be compelled to upgrade your broadband, but it will certainly mean that more options should be available to you.Back to top
Fibre upgrades in my area
Upgrades to fibre services – so-called ‘Superfast’ and ‘Ultrafast’ services – are now being offered in many parts of the UK. If fibre is not available in your area yet, the chances are it will be very soon.Back to top
Can I get fibre broadband?
You can easily check by using the Ofcom tool we referred to above – at https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/.Back to top
What is full fibre (FTTP) broadband?
FTTP (or Ultrafast broadband) stans for fibre to the premises, which means the fibre cable runs all the way to your business premises or home. Of course, to do this the cable needs to be laid and that can take time and cost quite a considerable sum. If you can get FTTP and you decide to install it, you should get speeds approaching 300Mbps.
That said, FTTP is getting more affordable as fibre is rolled out to more areas, driven by the twin forces of market competition and pressure on councils to allow upgrades to go ahead swiftly. Getting the UK fibre-enabled is seen as key to competitiveness of the UK economy.
FTTC (also known as Superfast broadband), stands for fibre to the cabinet and this means that the fibre cabling runs all the way to the local green junction box through which you will be connected, via a copper wire, to the broadband network. As there is that ‘last mile’ of copper cable for signals to travel through, it’s not as fast as FTTP, but will usually give you around 60 to 760Mbps download speeds.Back to top
Which broadband suppliers offer the best broadband upgrades?
If fibre infrastructure is available in your area, all broadband providers ought to be able to offer you a fibre-based service. All the major names, such as BT, Plusnet and TalkTalk, offer a good choice of FTTC and FTTP services in almost every part of the UK. Like all suppliers, they will be only too happy to upgrade your broadband connection – you will just need to make sure you can exit your current contract without losing out by having to pay a termination charge. If you upgrade with the same supplier, that won’t be a problem of course, but it will commit you for another contract term, typically two years.
There are packages to suit different kinds of businesses and users. BT’s offerings generally bundle additional services, such as WiFi and mobile services or, for home users, BT TV and BT Sport options.
Plusnet’s offerings are generally simpler and offer good value, so they are great if you just want a fast, reliable connection that meets your needs. if you want to be sure of what you are going to be paying, Plusnet has some good fixed-price contracts.
If speed is what you want, it’s worth checking out what TalkTalk’s has to offer in your area. Its services are usually very fast and as well as offering – as the name suggests – add-on call plans, TalkTalk also offers data-only FTTP services that do not require line rentalBack to top