Can I get fibre broadband?
Not everyone can get fibre broadband yet, but it's rolling out to more and more places every week. At the start of 2015 about it was available to about three quarters of the UK, and there are very public plans to get that extended to at least 95% by 2017. That means that if it's not available nearby yet, it should be in the very near future.
The quickest way to check if fibre broadband is available right now, though, is to use the postcode checker above. This will show all the ISPs who sell fibre broadband in a particular area, and the various options available – so it's easy to spot if they only sell 38Mb fibre, or whether they also offer 76Mb broadband, or even ultrafast broadband of more than 100Mb.
Another thing to note is that some ISPs sell their fibre broadband deals in places where their standard broadband isn't available. Not all of them do - but it's worth checking, as it could open up the choice - and the offers available - that little bit more.
How fast a connection do I need?
Signing up to a fibre broadband deal can open up a whole new world: we can connect more devices to the internet; streaming video is smoother or of better picture quality - and we can access HD as well as SD content; we can make online video calls that look more like video and less like bad stop motion animation.
Most of the providers listed above sell fibre broadband in two flavours: up to 38Mb, and up to 76Mb. An up to 38Mb deal makes streaming iPlayer or Netflix content in HD much smoother - even if someone else is watching another stream on another device – and leave enough bandwidth for other people to surf the web at a good speed.
Taking the step up to a 76Mb connection improves things even further - an HD movie will download in less than 10 minutes, or we could line up four SD movies to download in the same period. The fastest fibre broadband deals are really well suited to big or busy households, where everyone needs to be online at high speeds at the same time.
How much data does fibre use?
Light users - people who go online just to download their email, check the headlines, and watch the occasional video - who like the idea of a speedy connection may want to look at a capped fibre broadband deal. It's worth bearing in mind however, that the faster connection lets us do a lot more in less time, and that most of us end up doing more as a result.
So anyone upgrading from standard broadband might want to have some idea of how much data they already use in an average month - or how much they'll be able to do within a data limit - before considering a capped fibre deal. As a rough guide, 10GB is enough for 200 hours of general web browsing or downloading 120 albums, or between 10 and 15 hours of SD video streaming per month.
Anyone with an on demand video subscription is probably better off looking at an unlimited fibre broadband deal. Even low bandwidth and SD video streams use between 0.5 and 1GB of data per hour, and being able to stream HD content smoothly means we're going to use more data - a good 3GB per hour. Set the slider in the table above to "average" or "heavy" before comparing packages.
Is fibre broadband worth it?
Many people ask if fibre broadband is worth it purely because of the cost. But as with standard broadband before it, competition between the ISPs means there are more introductory offers and cheaper deals to be found all the time. Add in the speed it offers, and the ability to do so much more with it, and it becomes a seriously attractive option.
Particularly in homes with several people, who each have numerous devices, fibre broadband can make for a much more convenient – and certainly less frustrating – online life. There's more on the providers selling it, the different speeds and services they offer, and those deals, in our full guide here.
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