What is the Difference Between Cable And Fibre Broadband?

Everybody needs broadband in the modern world, but in this blog, we’re going to demystify some of the terminologies to help you make the best choice.

What is fibre broadband?

Fibre optic cable

Fibre broadband uses fibre optic cables to send data. This means that the signal is sent using light stead of an electrical impulse. It’s much faster than standard cable broadband, also known as ADSL broadband. Fibre broadband uses fibre optic lines up until it reaches your local street cabinet where it will be joined to your home via copper wires. Some suppliers might supply a fibre cable right to your home, but you would have to check with your supplier to see if they offer this.

What is cable broadband?

Copper wire cable

Cable broadband is provided by providers like Virgin Media. With cable broadband, most of your connection is still made up of fibre optic cables (yep, slightly confusing). The difference is within the last mile of the connection from the exchange to your home. Fibre optic broadband uses standard copper phone cable for this last link to your house. Cable broadband uses coaxial cable. This carries data faster than copper phone cable and loses less data loss over distances.

What difference does this make?

Broadband speed

At the time of writing, cable broadband packages are currently faster. Fibre broadband can deliver speeds of up to 76Mb per second, which is fast enough to download and stream multiple films at once, play games and browse the web at the same time. Fibre to the home (FTTH) can offer speeds of up to 1000MB per second, which is lightning fast, but currently, very few providers offer this. Virgin Media offers broadband speeds of up to 300Mb on their cable service.

Both cable and fibre broadband is available at speeds that are fast enough for most people’s purposes, but what you’re paying for can be different to what speed you get in real life. This is because your quoted speed is only theoretical. Depending on your location, your speed will vary. This is because of a multitude of factors including your location, how far you are from an exchange, what type of building you live in, the technology used in your local cabinet etc. Once you sign up, you’ll be able to get a more accurate representation of what speed you can actually get.


The speed of your broadband normally dictates how much you pay. You will also be subject to limits on how much data you can download in a calendar month with some providers. Others offer unlimited downloads as part of the price you pay.

You can use this postcode checker to check broadband availability in your area.

The Verdict

For most people, most broadband speeds will be more than enough. If you have multiple devices and use them for streaming and downloading large files then you will find faster speeds and unlimited data a godsend. It’s really up to you to decide how much you’re willing to pay for your broadband. There is a host of providers who offer better deals on broadband than others, so I’d advise shopping around until you find the best cost/performance ratio for you.

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