BT are currently rolling out their fibre access network throughout the UK. This page gives an overview of FTTC fibre optic broadband and how it works.
~ What is FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) Broadband?
With traditional adsl1/adsl2+, your broadband data was sent over your telephone line all the way from the exchange to your home. This meant that the further away from the exchange you were, then the less your broadband speed would be. For the majority of lines, the longest distance of copper would be from the exchange to your local green cabinet.
FTTC is when fibre optic cable is laid from the exchange to a brand new fibre cabinet which is sited near to your existing green PCP cabinet. This shortens the overall length of copper so that faster speeds can be attained.
Your broadband data will still have to traverse over copper wires from the cabinet to your home, so now the nearer your home is to the green cabinet, then the faster your speeds should be.
~ How does FTTC Fibre to the Cabinet work?
Firstly BT will need to install a new Fibre cabinet next to the older green PCP box. Fibre optic cable is then laid between the exchange and new fibre cabinet. The fibre cabinets contain their own mini DSLAM and power supply.
When you get FTTC broadband, the BT engineer will find your existing copper pair in the green PCP box and attach them to one of the tie pairs from the FTTC cab. Your voice data will still continue its previous route to the exchange, but now your broadband data will be routed through the FTTC cab and over fibre optic cable all the way back to the exchange.
~ How fast is FTTC & what speed will I get?
The current maximum speed is 'up to' 80Mbps downstream and 'up to' 20Mbps upstream.
In the UK FTTC can be provisioned as 80/20, 55/10, 40/10, 40/2 or 18/2, although not all Service Providers offer all options.
Your actual speed will depend on how far away from the FTTC cabinet you are. The nearer your home is to the cabinet, then the faster your connection will be.
BT Wholesale provides an estimate of what speeds they anticipate your line will achieve based on your distance from the cabinet. You can use the FTTC broadband checker to get a rough idea of what speed you are likely to get.
~ Can I get Fibre Broadband?
Government plans aim to provide access to superfast speeds to 95% of the UK by 2017.
As of March 2014 fibre broadband via BT Openreach is available to 19 million homes, which covers 2/3rds of the UK.
Whether you can get FTTC depends on your exchange being upgraded for fibre and a new FTTC cabinet being installed near to your existing green PCP cabinet.
BT Openreach has launched a new FTTC Broadband Checker here, but at the time of writing we still find that the BTWholesale FTTC checker provides more information.
~ FTTC BT Openreach NGA Boundary
BT Openreach boundary for NGA (Next Generation Architecture) Fibre Access.
~ Coverage (Update)
As at April 2015, BT announced the following statistics:
- Fibre at over 3,650 exchanges
- 64,000 cabinets upgraded
- Nearly 22 million premises passed
- 1,100 20CN exchanges offering FTTC
- Over 3.33 million users with fibre
- 30k users with FTTP
As at Q1 2017
- 26.5 million premises passed
As at Q2 2017
- 'Superfast Broadband' (>24 Mbps) available at 93% of premises.
- All fibre based lines (inc <24Mbps) at 96.1% of premises
Last updated Apr 2015
Sep 2017 updated coverage & provisioning