Broadband News

A reminder that superfast and high speed broadband is not the same as Gigabit broadband

This week saw a big change in ambition from the Government in terms of helping deliver a Gigabit UK.

The Spending Review saw the old as close to 100% coverage of Gigabit broadband target watered down to 85% with £1.2 billion of funding to help in the non commercial areas.

Unfortunately the scale of the dissapointment and reduction in ambition is being masked or some media outlets do not understand the implication of words like superfast, high speed and Gigabit. For avoidance of doubt

  • High Speed Broadband - has never had an official definition but is most often used to refer to download speeds around the 10 to 15 Mbps region.
  • Superfast Broadband has an official definition of broadband with download speeds of 30 Mbps or faster. There is also a slightly lower definition of over 24 Mbps which was known as as the Westminster defintion, the higher 30 Mbps arose from the EU definition but has been adopted for any new contracts.
  • Gigabit Broadband, download speeds of 900 Mbps should be available.

The Gigabit target was set to be met using a mixture of DOCSIS 3.1 i.e. upgraded Virgin Media network and full fibre (Fibre to the Premises). There was/is likely to be some 5G in the mix, though to get Gigabit speeds in sparse rural areas this 5G would prove possibly as expensive as FTTP, we are expecting to see 5G possibly helping in dense urban areas where upgrading existing cables is proving difficult.

While we are here a little bit of coverage stats housekeeping, the roll-outs of FTTP have been running at a fairly steady 0.2 percentage points increase per week (roughly 60,000 premises per week), but this week has seen us only adding an extra 0.14 points to the total which is 18.37% (Gigabit coverage is higher due to the DOCSIS 3.1 element at 35.48%). We are mentioning this now as if this drop in pace is genuine rather than just a blip due to us looking in all the wrong places this week it is too soon to be a reaction to the Gigabit target changes brought on by the Chancellor. 

One thing that has changed in the last month is the amount of UK premises with 2 or more FTTP network options, at the start of November this overlap was just 1.16% of UK premises, now it has risen to 1.261%.

The weekly Saturday update on the public stats has happened and the FTTP networks that have seen extra coverage added this week are Openreach, Virgin Media, KCOM, CityFibre, trooli, toob, OFNL, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre,, County Fibre, Fibrus, Fibre Nest, truespeed and WightFibre (order is random).  


I know why they do it, BUT while gigabit providers focus on deploying to the same properties as other gigabit providers the chances to carpet the whole of the UK with gigabit capable broadband is light years away. I still believe the UK governments should have come up with some form of register that only allowed one gigabit capable network do each property until the entire UK was completed.

  • dect
  • about 1 month ago

So what defines ‘Ultrafast’ then, or is that just marketing hype too:

  • MercuryRH
  • about 1 month ago

@MercuryRH Ofcom define Ultrafast as 300Mbit/s+
BT define Ultrafast as 100Mbit/s+ as they use on their packages

  • sparkey1989
  • about 1 month ago

Lots of others including us use 100 Mbps as ultrafast definition

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 month ago

Pretty much everyone in the industry other than Ofcom defines Ultrafast as 100Mbps+.

  • New_Londoner
  • about 1 month ago

Indeed Ultrafast is what is defined at 300+Mbps.
I suppose the only way Ultrafast at 100-300Mbps can qualify is via G.Fast.

Superfast is more properly defined as FTTC. Day before yesterday I spotted the error of Sky News when they reported 100% Superfast for 2025 coverage may not be met. That is confusing for most viewers because 95% of the country already has Superfast FTTC access.

Many people still don't even know what FTTP is! In order for most people to know the difference between Superfast vs Ultrafast is by first knowing what Full Fibre and FTTP is. Eventually people will be informed!

  • about 1 month ago

And likewise "full fibre" isn't twisted pair from the cabinet in your street to your house.

  • buggerlugs
  • about 1 month ago

1 day ago
you get multiple providers per premises because
Gigabit providers dont usually supply the actual connection BT usually do so once BT (or any other FTTP wholesaler) provides the actual fibre the multiple ISPs can retail that connection.

  • pyarwood
  • about 1 month ago

@pyarwood that is not entirely the case. There is a large overlap between Virgin and BT gigabit capable solutions (at least once Virgin complete their upgrades). Then add in Cityfibre who are cabling up a number of cities plus Zzoomm, Jurassic, B4RN and a few others and there is a potential for a fair bit of overlap of gigabit providers that have various wholesale agreements (or in the case of people like Virgin only one provider).

  • ian72
  • about 1 month ago


Sorry, I was referring to infrastructure providers not ISP's.

I should have been more clearer.

  • dect
  • about 1 month ago

7.3% of UK premises are covered by DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 and also have another FTTP operator available

Obviously as operators build more FTTP that is going to change e.g. Coventry that figure is running at 45% currently.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 month ago

There is a significant problem where people conflate their WiFi speed with their broadband connection. That is they for example get a decent FTTC connection but WiFi elsewhere in the house is significantly poorer and they just blame the broadband. This is only going to get worse as more gigabit capable connections come online.

  • jabuzzard
  • about 1 month ago

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