Guides & Help

Our FAQs should have the answers you're looking for

1. How to choose the right fibre optic package.

As a nation, the UK is more connected than at any time its history. The majority of Brits regularly use laptops, smartphones, tablets, computer consoles and TVs. While you are listening to music, playing computer games or streaming movies, your standard broadband telephone line may struggle to keep up. That problem is further compounded if you have a family where multiple users are all trying to get online at the same time.

With superfast fibre everyone in your house can be online at the same time without affecting the quality of their online experience. Slow downloads, stuttered gameplay and interrupted movie streaming will be a thing of the past.

When searching for the right package and provider it’s important that you start by checking for fibre broadband availability in your area. Fibre isn’t available across all of the UK yet so it’s best to know that your street has fibre available. The rollout of fibre by Openreach is continuing and as of 2017 more than 24 million homes and businesses (over 90%) now have access to fibre optic broadband.

Switch to Fibre Broadband in 3 easy steps:

1. Search for fibre using your postcode: To start your search for fibre packages simply enter your postcode on our home page: www.fibrecompare.com

2. Choose a fibre broadband package: Having entered you postcode you will be presented with a list of providers (Sky, Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet, Post Office and TalkTalk) and their accompanying fibre packages. The package information will be shown in price ascending order. Take your time and review the packages until you find the one that is right for your home.

3. Click through to the provider’s website and sign up: Once you have chosen your package simply click on the ‘Buy Now’ button next to it and you will be taken to your chosen provider’s website to complete your order. Once you have signed up to your fibre package with your new provider they will then confirm your new package by email or post (depending on your contact preference). Remember you can change your mind and cancel at any time in the first 14 days.

2. What is fibre optic broadband?

Fibre optics is the contained transmission of light through long fibre rods (cables) made of glass and/or plastic. The light travels through the fibre cable through the process of reflection. The internal core of the cable is made of a material (glass mirrors) that is more reflective than the outer part of the cable. By having a highly reflective surface to bounce off, the light continues to move down the cable towards its end. Fibre optic cables are capable of transmitting conversation (voice), images (photos and movies) and data (such as files from one computer to another).

Fibre optic broadband is set to change the way we interact with the digital landscape like never before, with ultrafast broadband download speeds of up to 1Gb enabling homes users throughout the UK to enjoy TV, movies and games on demand.

3. What types of fibre broadband are available for my home?

Fibre broadband is currently being deployed across the UK by Openreach, Virgin Media and smaller companies like Hyperoptic. There are two types of fibre optic broadband:

FTTC: Fibre-to-the-cabinet is where the fibre optic cabling replaces the standard copper wiring between the local telephone exchange or DP (distribution point – such as a street pole) to the green line cabinet. The line cabinet houses a Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (‘DSLAM’) which breaks the fibre feed down in to a copper pair. A DSLAM can hold 288 customer lines. The DSLAM has technology within it to filter out the standard ADSL signal coming from the local exchange and replace it with the VDSL (‘very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line’) signal generated in the cabinet. The VDSL signal is then linked to the standard copper cable from the green street cabinet to deliver high bandwidth to the home.

The line will then terminate on to the NTE5 line box inside the home. An Openreach engineer will attend your home to complete the installation of the fibre optic service. The engineer will replace the ‘front plate’ of your line box with a SSFP (service specific face plate). This new face plate comes with an RJ11 socket built in – the engineer will connect up a special VDSL router (which your fibre broadband provider will send to you in advance of the appointment) and connect it to the line box via a cable to the RJ11 socket. In some cases you may already have the correct front plate in place and an engineer will not be required.


FTTP / FTTH: Fibre-to-the-premises (also called fibre-to-the-home) provides fibre direct from the exchange to your home giving you the highest quality connection possible as there is no copper wire involved.

4. What download speeds are available with fibre broadband?

There are several different types of fibre speeds available: Depending on availability in your area, the following fibre optic line speeds may be available:

• Up to 38Mb superfast fibre optic broadband
• Up to 76Mb superfast fibre optic broadband
• Up to 100Mb superfast fibre optic broadband
• Up to 300Mb ultrafast fibre optic broadband

• Up to 1Gb ultrafast fibre optic broadband

5. Benefits of fibre-optic broadband.

• Superfast downloads of movies, music or standard documents are achievable
• Faster internet browsing
• Improved performance on streaming standard definition TV, HD TV, online games
• Faster to upload files and media to the Internet (due to the faster upstream speed)

6. What is the average UK broadband speed?

Basic broadband as offered by the main UK ISPs such as Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, Post Office and BT, can provide download speeds of up to 24Mb using ADSL2+ technology. This is the fasted ‘up to’ speed for the ADSL technology. In 2012 the majority of ISPs, after guideline changes from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), lowered their upper limit on broadband download speeds to ‘up to 14Mb’, before increasing it over the years to ‘up to 17Mb’.

Average actual broadband speeds have continued to increase over the last 5 years mainly due to the uptake of superfast fibre optic broadband in a higher percentage of British homes.


The majority of fibre broadband users believe that their online experience had improved as a result of moving from standard broadband to fibre optic. Most people attribute this improvement to fibre’s ability to meet the demands of TV streaming, HD movies, uploading photos or video content, and undoubtedly the benefits when playing online games.

7. How much faster is fibre optic broadband than standard broadband?

Basic broadband (ADSL) services are provided over the traditional BT copper wire network which was originally created to support just telephone calls. Since the early 2000s the BT network has also supported broadband with speeds up to 24Mb. A major determining factor in the speed of download over the copper wires is the distance between your property and the local exchange. Fibre replaces the copper wire and is able to transform the connection to a superfast fibre broadband circuit, allowing speeds up to 5 times the average broadband speed, typically 40Mb – 80Mb for fibre-to-the-cabinet but in some cases as fast as 300Mb with ultrafast (G.fast) broadband services. Sky and TalkTalk have been trialling their ultrafast service in York, providing speeds over 900Mb using Fibre To The Premises.

Since 2010 the average actual residential fixed broadband download speeds have increased from 6.2Mb in 2010 to 28.9Mb in 2015. Superfast Broadband availability has subsequently reached over 90% of UK premises.

8. Can I get fibre broadband?

It’s easy to check if fibre is available at your home address. You can use our fibre availability checker to search, review and select your new fibre broadband service. To start your search for fibre packages simply enter your postcode and home phone number on our home page checker: www.fibrecompare.com

9. What percentage of UK properties can receive fibre optic broadband?

By 2017 around 90% of UK homes and businesses (over 25 million) were in fibre optic areas - those premises being served by BT Openreach, Virgin Media and KCOM next generation networks. The picture for rural areas is getting better with larger numbers of consumers now better connected and fibre broadband coverage hitting close to 60% of homes and businesses (2.3 million). Despite superfast coverage improving in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, unfortunately they are still below the UK average.

Close to 5% of British homes (and small businesses) in the UK are unable to receive download speeds greater than 10Mb.

The distance between the customer property and the local exchange impacts on the speed of the home broadband connection. Speeds tend to decrease between 1-2km from the exchange due to the resistance in the copper wire and speeds fall significantly beyond 3.5km. Consumers who live in less populated areas are typically further from the exchange, and as a result achieve lower broadband speeds.

There are some households that are connected to fibre broadband networks but do not currently receive fibre optic speeds. The majority of these customers are found in rural areas, with distances between houses and green street cabinets usually higher than those in more densely populated areas. To add to this, the lengthy copper wires between the cabinet and the houses can result in further reduced speeds.

UK broadband network operators are continuing to invest in their coverage to improve the availability and speed of the broadband services. Several public programmes intended to increase fibre broadband availability are also underway to improve service availability in areas not served by commercial entities. The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative, is just one such programme and is aiming to provide download speeds of 24Mb or above to 95% of the UK population by the end of 2017.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has sought Ofcom’s assistance in providing a technical appraisal and suggestions in how best to provide a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). The Government has requested a download speed of 10Mb to be made available to all households.

10. Where can I check which fibre broadband packages are available at my address?

It’s easy to find fibre broadband deals using fibrecompare.com.

To start your search for fibre packages simply enter your postcode and home phone number on our home page checker: www.fibrecompare.com

Choose from a range of fibre packages from providers such as Sky, Virgin, BT, Plusnet, Post Office and TalkTalk. The fibre package information will be shown in price ascending order. Take your time and review the fibre packages until you find the one that is right for your home.

11. What is a MAC code?

A MAC code is a unique code that identifies a specific line and can be used to ensure a user doesn’t have downtime while moving broadband suppliers. It is a 17-18 digit alphanumeric code starting with the letter ‘L’. ISP regulations state that where requested a MAC code must be issued within 5 working days by the existing provider. (Note as below that most broadband switches to major ISPs now don’t require MAC codes).

12. Do you always need a MAC code to switch broadband providers?

There are many factors that determine whether you require a MAC code (Migration Authority Code) from your present broadband supplier in order to join your new broadband provider. Most revolve around the wholesale system that supplies your current provider and the wholesale system that your new provider is utilising. The MAC system only works if the network you are leaving and the network you are joining are supplied by BT Retail or BT Wholesale supplied lines.

With Sky , Virgin, TalkTalk and Post Office a MAC code is generally not needed as they are LLU (local loop unbundled) networks. There are a few standalone home phone or standalone broadband service that may require these LLU providers to use BT lines so in this scenario a MAC code may be used but it is becoming much rarer to see MAC codes use when joining or leaving Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk or Post Office.

13. What is an LLU network?

When a broadband provider installs their own equipment at the local BT exchange it allows them to provide a direct service to the customer. This process is known as Local Loop Unbundling. Networks that operate in this way for the majority of their broadband services are Sky, TalkTalk, Post Office and EE. Virgin Media operates its own cable network but it connects in at the local exchange in similar fashion.

14. What are broadband data usage limits?

Broadband data usage limits are the maximum ‘inclusive’ data allowance you receive with the package you have selected. Once the allowance has been used up the ISP will typically charge you incrementally for your data usage at a price per GB used until your billing period resets. Most providers don’t typically allow you to roll over your package data allowance to the following month so be certain to know when your billing period starts and ends to ensure you don’t go over your limit. An example would be packages with a 5GB, 10GB, 20GB or 40GB limit. This is different to a fair usage policy – details below.

15. What is a fair usage policy?

Most of the unlimited broadband packages have a fair usage policy. A fair usage policy is a suppliers guidelines on how it manages the collective data usage of all its customers. This policy ensures that heavy internet users (online gaming, movie downloads, file uploading) do not have a detrimental impact on the rest of their customer base by using up the network capacity.

The majority of broadband providers won’t contact you if you are a heavy user for the first couple of months but after that they may make you aware of your usage and ask that you reduce it or carry out intensive use of the internet outside of peak hours. You can keep tabs on your usage by downloading a usage monitor application:

Keep an eye on your usage: You can check your typical download usage using ThinkBroadband’s usage monitor application: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/tbbmeter.html

A few providers offer ‘truly unlimited’ usage and these will be shown in the results when you perform an availability check: http://www.fibrecompare.com These truly unlimited broadband packages are best for the big downloaders so if you know you need more data than most people, make sure you look out for one of these packages.

16. Things to check when looking for a cheap broadband deal

There are some truly cracking broadband deals available to most UK homes. That said, it’s worth remembering that whilst a broadband deal may be cheap, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the most appropriate package for your own internet usage demands. Below is a short checklist compiled by FibreCompare.com that highlights what you should be checking before you sign up to a new broadband or fibre broadband package:

• Are you still in contract with your current provider?

• Are they any costs incurred if you do leave your current broadband provider?

• Do you have any services with your current provider that may not work (home alarm systems) or may increase in price when you move your broadband service to another provider? (i.e. Sky TV).

• How long is the contract on the new provider’s broadband package?

• Is the data allowance enough to meet your usage needs?

• Are you better off getting an unlimited data usage package?

• What is the fair usage policy for the provider supplying the broadband package?

• How many people/devices will be using the broadband or fibre connection at one time? (activities that eat up data and bandwidth are streaming TV, downloading emails, downloading movies or music, playing computer games on consoles, laptops or tablets). You can check your typical download usage using ThinkBroadband’s usage monitor application: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/tbbmeter.html

• What is the monthly cost of the home phone line rental? (You will always need a home phone line when taking broadband or fibre broadband from a supplier, except Virgin Media where you can take fibre without needing a landline if your area supports it).

• Are there any set up fees or installation charges for the broadband or fibre broadband service?

• What is the total cost of the contract – for example is the first year of broadband or superfast fibre offered at a discount (i.e. 6 months free), and is the price of the broadband more expensive afterwards? (i.e. £5.99 per month).

• Are there any additional charges for delivery of the broadband router?

• Is the technical support free (via an 0800 number) or chargeable via an 0845, 0844, 0871 or 09XX telephone number?

• What broadband router do you receive as part of the package? Is it wireless ‘G’ or wireless ‘N’ - the N option being far better at passing through walls in your home and therefore if it’s included this is a benefit.

• Customer Service – is the customer service UK based or overseas?

• Which days and what hours are the customer services team for your new provider available?

• Has your chosen provider won any home phone or broadband awards for its products, reliability or customer care?

17. Which providers offer cheap broadband deals?

There are many broadband deals on offer from the major providers such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk. That said, some of the cheapest deals on the market are available from smaller providers such as Plusnet, Post Office or Direct Save Telecom.

Cheap broadband can offer you excellent discounts on standard broadband - typical examples are free introductory months, cheap line rental, free activation and broadband routers. If you search around each provider you will see that there is quite a lot of variance in the way that the ISPs present their packages. It’s important to remember that if a broadband deal comes with an introductory offer that you remember to check the price after the introductory broadband price ends (e.g. free for 6 months then £4.99 per month). In some case it is better to find a package that is low cost the whole year round and is based on a flat monthly package price (i.e. £2.99 per month). This is particularly the case if the contract is for 18 months. Be sure to read the small disclaimer print, usually at the foot of the page of all the ISP package pages as this can tell you a lot about the length of contract, the router delivery fees and items such as call set up fees. Make sure you also read the terms and conditions of the package thoroughly to be certain that these meet with your approval.

When considering a cheaper offer from another broadband supplier it is worth remembering that you may still be within contract with your current broadband supplier. Have a look at your terms with your current supplier – you should have a copy that was issued to you at the time you joined your supplier, otherwise you can visit your broadband provider’s website or simply request a copy by calling their customer services team.

Search for cheap broadband packages for your home using our broadband availability checker: www.fibrecompare.com

18. Which providers offer cheap fibre broadband deals?

There are some amazingly priced fibre broadband offers out there from Sky, BT, Post Office, Plusnet and TalkTalk. Your selection of provider will depend much on whether you want additional services such as on demand TV or HD TV and movies bundled in.

Providers such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk all offers TV with their high end fibre packages. Some providers supply just the fibre optic broadband or broadband such as Post Office, Direct Save Telecom and EE.

Search for the best fibre package or TV & fibre bundle for your home using our fibre availability checkers.

19. How long does it take to switch broadband or fibre providers?

It usually takes 14 days to switch broadband provider but there are many factors that can affect the actual switch date such as whether you are moving home, installing a new line, moving between a BT-provided line (e.g. Plusnet) to an LLU-provided line (e.g. Sky).

Average switching timescales between broadband providers (measured in days from signup date):

20. Will switching provider save me money?

If you are out of contract with your current provider and want to switch to a new broadband provider then you may find you can save money in the process. There are some excellent broadband deals available from the main broadband providers along with excellent router options and TV add ons. Most of the large ISPs now offer some form of TV service (Sky, BT Sport, Virgin Media, TalkTalk TV (YouView) so it worth seeing if you want to add those packages on as well – bundling your hoe communications together with one provider really can save you money.

If you are moving home you also need to factor in that you may require your line to be reactivated or even a new line installed. Typical fees can range from £55-£120 – but some providers will offer you an installation for free if you take one of their home phone and broadband bundles.

Remember to look at the introductory offer and the price after the offer runs out. Does the router meet your requirements? Is the data allowance enough to cope with your monthly internet usage? What are the costs to call the customer services department? Look for any set up costs such as activation fees, router delivery fees, line installation or changes in the headline rental price should you live outside of the ISPs main network area. It’s also worth remembering that you may use the phone line for phone calls as well so have a look at the provider’s call charges and call set up fees to see if the costs are higher than your current package and provider. Always read the small print of the broadband package before buying.

21. Is it free to switch broadband or fibre broadband providers?

The cost of switching to a new provider depends much on the following:

• Are you still in contract with your current broadband provider?

• Are you in contract with your current broadband provider for line rental, TV or any other subscriptions that may extend beyond your broadband agreement?

• Is there an Early Termination Charge (ETC) levied by your current provider if you leave them during your contract?

• Are there any installation fees payable in order to migrate your line from your existing to new provider network?

• Are there any activation or set up fees with your new provider?

• Are there any router delivery fees for your new broadband provider?

• Are there any costs for additional services you might have selected with the new provider, such as TV set top boxes?

• Can you get a better deal by staying with your current provider and asking for a better monthly package price?

22. Which internet TV services will work over fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband is compatible with all internet streaming services. Individual ISPs may set restrictions on certain pirate download sites but legal streaming sites are available:

Now TV
Netflix
Amazon Instant Video
Crackle
Viewster
Freeview
Wuaki.TV

As you are streaming be aware that this is in fact data usage and will come off of any allowance you might have with your broadband package. If you do a lot of TV streaming then be sure to either limit yourself or choose a package with unlimited data allowance. A useful review of set-top TV streaming boxes can be found here: http://www.digitaltrends.com

23. Can I stream TV over fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband is great for streaming TV and can easily handle multiple streams at once owing to the high capacity of the broadband connection in to your home. As you are streaming TV be aware that this is in fact using data which will contribute to any allowance you might have with your broadband package. If you do a lot of TV streaming then be sure to either limit yourself or choose a package with unlimited data allowance.

24. Can I watch movies and sport over fibre broadband?

Yes. Fibre broadband is excellent for watching standard or high definition movies or sports programmes online. Netflix, LoveFilm, BT Sport and Freeview and many other movie and TV streaming services are suitable for use with a fibre connection. Sky TV is delivered via satellite but it powers the Now TV streaming box so you can watch movies online or watch your favourite sports on the Sky Sports channels with a Day Pass.

25. What are the benefits of buying a bundled broadband, fibre and TV package?

You can now buy your broadband, line rental and TV services from a range of providers such as Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk TV (Freeview) and BT TV. If you don’t want TV to be part of your package then you’ll find a wide range of phone and broadband bundle deals available from the likes of Plusnet, Post Office and Zen Internet.

There are many reasons to bundle your services with one provider: single bill, one point of contact when you need to make changes, move address or encounter any faults or issues. You may also find that the total cost of the bundle is actually a good bit cheaper than renting the individual services (line rental, broadband and TV) separately. Most bundles also come with good introductory offers so be sure to shop around, read reviews and select your new package carefully.

It can sometimes be cheaper to buy the line rental separate to the broadband, where the technology allows it. The best separates bundle is Post Office’s Home Phone Saver package (the UK’s cheapest line rental) alongside ‘standalone’ (SMPF) broadband from Plusnet, Zen Internet or BT.

26. Can I retain my personal email address from my existing provider?

Both Sky and Talk will allow you to keep and access your email after you leave their broadband service. Virgin Media close down your email account 3 months after you end your broadband service with them.

Both BT and Plusnet (owned by BT) will permit continued use of your email account after you have left them in return for a monthly fee. It is essential you tell them your intention to keep the address so that your account is left open.

It’s important that you log in to your email account regularly (i.e. every 2 weeks) to ensure that the account remains in active use – if not you may find the ISP closes your account down as part of their maintenance programme.

It’s usually best to set yourself up an email account with a free-to-use webmail operator such as Gmail (www.gmail.com), Yahoo Mail (uk.mail.yahoo.com) or Hotmail (www.hotmail.com). This way you aren’t restricted to using your ISP email account and are able to switch between broadband providers without restrictions or deletion of your email account.

27. What affects the broadband speed in my home?

The main factors that affect the broadband speed in your home are as follows:

1. The distance between your house and the local exchange
2. The length of the internal phone wiring within your home, including your extension boxes.
3. Use of microfilters in the home on all used sockets
4. The speed of the connection between your computer and your router. A wired connection provides a faster and more reliable connection than wireless (wi-fi).
5. The router you are using and it’s wi-fi signal strength
6. Interference on your router signal from external sources and other routers
7. The speed and processing power of your computer will affect your computer’s performance on the Internet.
8. The time of day you are making your connection (busy periods are usually 6-9pm) can significantly impact your experience due to the volume of other users in the area also connecting to the exchange
9. The software running on your computer
10. If you are sharing the connection with several people (i.e. family members, student house, etc.)
11. Websites that you are visiting and their loading times

28. How do I test my broadband speed?

We recommend using a broadband speed testing application such as one of the following:

www.Speedtest.net
www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest.html
www.broadbandspeedtest.co.uk

29. What broadband speed do I need for my home?

Broadband speed is measured as the time it takes to download or upload data from the internet to your computer, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Data can be anything from movies, files, music, streamed TV, emails, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc), Skype calls or online games.

The higher your broadband or fibre connection speed is, the faster the data will move to and from your computer. It’s important to remember that a single connection to your home will be shared by all the devices using it simultaneously such as your laptop, iPad, smartphones or smart TVs. If any one device is using the majority of the available bandwidth (connection capacity) then the other devices also trying to share that connection will see a reduction in speed of download or performance (slow viewing speed of streamed TV or music download).

The average download speed in the UK is around 4Mbps. Make sure you understand the factors that can limit the speed of the connection to your home. If an ISP is offering ‘up to 16Mb on their package advertising then this may not be the actual speed you will achieve (see our section above which details the factors which affect the speed of broadband in your home).
Visit www.fibrecompare.com to see what packages are available for your home.

30. Will I need to pay a fee to leave my current broadband provider?

All broadband and fibre providers now expect you to agree to a minimum contract period, with 12 months and 18 months the typical duration. The ISP typically incurs a number of costs bringing you, the customer, on to their network: activation, router manufacture and delivery, technical support, line installation, and many others. It won’t usually ask you to pay these up front but the ISP will expect you to stay for the duration of your agreement so that they can recoup the majority of those costs.

Should you choose to leave and join another provider then make sure you are either out of contract with your current broadband provider, or that you are prepared to pay the Early Termination Charge in order to exit the contract early. The Early Termination Charge will be indicated within your current suppliers terms and conditions that they provided to you at time of registration.

Early Termination Charges are typically calculated as a fee, usually under £5 per month for the number of months remaining on your current agreement for supply of their broadband service. Ofcom, the telecoms industry regulator, has recently published guidelines on the maximum charge payable for leaving your contract early. More details can be found at www.ofcom.org.uk

31. What can I expect to receive from my current provider when I switch away?

Ask for a MAC code from your existing provide once you have ordered your new service with your new provider. Your new provider may not need it – TalkTalk, Sky, Post Office and Virgin don’t usually require one to activate your line. Typically you will receive a letter confirming your decision to leave your current broadband provider, along with any details of your cancellation date and usually information related to your current provider’s terms of service (this is mainly for customers who have left within contract). If you have left whilst out of contract then you simply wait for the final bill to be issued by your provider (which may be the following month as most broadband companies invoice in arrears for data and calls charges). If you have left within contract then you may find that you have to wait for your final bill to be produced before you learn how much you will need to pay to exit your agreement. This process of paying for your early termination charge will not prevent you from switching – but you will need to pay it.

Leave your direct debit in place until your final bill is paid (this may be a month after you leave your current provider) and then cancel your direct debit (but don’t cancel it before the final amount is collected.

32. What can I expect to receive from my new provider when I join them?

Your new fibre or broadband provider will issue you with a Welcome Letter or Welcome Email confirming the package details of the package you have signed up for, terms & conditions, login details for your router (which will arrive separately), details of any email addresses you have asked for, confirmation that your Direct Debit has been set up.

If you require an engineer visit this will usually be confirmed separately – this is normally the case for new line installations and fibre optic broadband installations.

33. Will an engineer need to visit my property when I change broadband provider?

An engineer visit is normally required if you are moving in to a new property and need to install a line from scratch, or you are installing fibre optic broadband which requires an engineer to carry out a small amount of work on your master socket inside the house and at the green cabinet in your street. Other than that, most broadband switches go ahead without the need for an engineer visit being required.

34. Will an engineer need to visit my property when I have switch to fibre broadband?

An Openreach engineer is required to visit your property in order to install fibre broadband. They will change the face plate on your master socket and connect to it an Openreach VDSL router. They will then connect your new fibre compatible router, as supplied by your fibre provider.

In January 2013, Openreach will start allowing ISPs to provide their customers with the option of fibre self-installation that will remove the need for an engineer to attend your home. This will also mean that the ISP will simply send you one box as opposed to the current two boxes required to make it work at present: www.ispreview.co.uk

35. How long does it take for a fibre line to be installed?

1. When upgrading with existing supplier: It usually takes 2-3 weeks for a fibre line to be installed over the top of your basic broadband service with your current provider. Your current broadband provider will arrange a convenient date and time for an engineer to visit your home to install fibre. If you already take broadband and home phone services from your current supplier then it will usually takes around two weeks to have fibre installed, subject to engineer availability for your area. (Engineer appointments can be delayed or cancelled if there is sustained bad weather such as snow or flooding during winter months, so it’s important to stay in touch with your provider if you are expecting an engineer).

2. If you are moving suppliers: your phone line and broadband connection has to be switched over first (no engineer visit required, unless it’s a new home) before fibre can be added over the top of your line. Your new service provider will firstly your home phone and broadband services to their network – this will take about 14 days. Once the phone line and broadband are set up, an engineer appointment will be arranged with you (by your new supplier) for an Openreach engineer to install the fibre connection – this is usually a 2-3 week wait from the date your broadband and phone line switches to your new provider.

3. If you have moved house and need a line reconnected: your phone line will likely be restarted within 48 hours but usually the same day. Broadband will then be ordered for your line and this will take about 14 days to go live. Once your broadband service is live your provider will arrange an engineer appointment for an Openreach engineer to install fibre broadband.

4. If you have moved house and need a line installed: your new broadband provider will request an engineer appointment to have your new phone line installed first (note: fibre will not be installed during this appointment). Once your phone line is activated the process to activate your broadband service will start (this takes about 7-14 days). Once your broadband service is active your supplier will arrange for a second engineer appointment for your fibre broadband service to be installed. This typically takes another 14 days before an engineer will be able to visit.

36. What happens during the Openreach engineer visit to install my fibre broadband service?

Your broadband provider will send out their broadband router in advance of your fibre installation appointment, so it will be ready for the Openreach engineer to utilise during the visit. The Openreach engineer will attend on the agreed appointment day (AM or PM). Your broadband connection will be unavailable for the entire duration of the engineer visit but you should be able to make and receive telephone calls.

The engineer will switch your line to the fibre network from the local BT street cabinet. The engineer will then visit your home and install a new faceplate on your master telephone socket and run any cabling (if necessary and with your consent). An Openreach VDSL modem will then be connected to the new faceplate and also connected to the router issued by your broadband provider. Once the main installation of fibre optic is complete, the engineer will connect one of your computers so they can demonstrate the service is operational before they leave.

37. What equipment typically comes as part of the fibre installation process? (from Openreach and from my new provider)

New Provider:

• Fibre compliant wireless router
• Welcome letter containing a username and password for your account

Openreach:

• Openreach VDSL modem
• New faceplate for your master telephone socket
• (Where required) a data extension kit

38. Why should I use FibreCompare.com to switch broadband providers?

FibreCompare.com carefully maps availability for all UK postcodes and is able to provide you with a customised list of fibre and broadband packages that you can receive at your home. We save you time and effort by compiling showing you an extensive range of market-leading broadband and fibre packages from all the major providers such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet, Post Office, EE, Zen and VODAFONE.

Instead of having to search through all the provider websites and package/pricing details, Fibre Compare does all the heavy lifting for you. Simply enter your postcode and phone number on our www.fibrecompare.com home page and you’ll see a list of those providers (and packages) that can serve your home address. Then just click on the ‘Buy Now’ button to visit each provider’s website and look at the packages in more detail. If you like a particular package then simply sign up for it online via your chosen provider’s website.

To help us fund the running of our site, FibreCompare.com receives a small fee from a supplier when you switch to their network. This helps us keep our systems, pricing information and user guides up to date.

39. Does FibreCompare.com list every fibre and broadband deal?

Broadband providers tend to update their offers regularly and also provide different offers directly, via special offers online, via comparison sites, via newspaper adverts, to upgrading customers and to those customers who are changing their package. It’s therefore not possible to list every conceivable package option for every broadband or fibre provider. That said, we at FibreCompare.com try to showcase for you as many of the best and relevant deals as possible. Our smart search system uses the latest network footprint information to determine which packages are suitable for your home address and usage profile. We check each major provider’s pricing and package offerings on a daily basis. If you want to know about special offers or upcoming package launches then simply register for our weekly newsletter that will start in February 2014.

40. How does FibreCompare.com choose the order to list the provider packages?

We list packages in order of First Year Total Cost (including Line Rental and set up costs). In early 2014 we will be providing tools to allow you to order the data according to your preferences. As the majority of broadband packages are accompanied by 12 month agreements, we believe knowing the first year cost is the most appropriate method of listing your available packages.

41. Can I get fibre broadband or basic broadband without paying line rental?

The simple answer is that if you want fibre optic or broadband services then you will be required to pay line rental to your broadband provider. This applies to all major providers such as Sky, BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet, Post Office, Plusnet, EE, Zen, VODAFONE and everyone else. Line rental is paid directly to your broadband provider who in turn uses the money to pay Openreach (BT) for maintenance of your physical phone and broadband connection between your home, the street cabinet and the local BT exchange.

The only option available that does not include line rental is to take ‘Virgin Broadband without a phone line’ package. Visit our Virgin Media supplier page for more information.

42. Which providers offer unlimited broadband with no data restrictions?

The majority of fibre and broadband providers now offer a range of data usage packages to suit differing user requirements. Almost all providers offer some form of basic package for low users (5GB-20GB), medium use packages (20GB-40GB), and unlimited broadband packages that offers minimal or no restrictions on download or uploads. Some suppliers offer ‘Unlimited’ packages and these are operated within a fair usage policy (basically meaning that your total data usage is monitored so as not to exceed a total monthly amount on a regular basis). Fair usage policies ensure that high data users do not affect other subscribers on the network and impede their quality of online experience. That said, a number of providers have also introduced ‘Truly Unlimited’ packages without any Fair Usage policy and tailored specifically for those users looking for an unrestricted unlimited downloads in their fibre or broadband package.

43. Is fibre broadband most suitable for family use?

Fibre broadband is suitable for a number of different household profiles:

• Family homes
• Working couples
• Student households
• Shared flats/accommodation
• Home workers
• Those looking for fast data download for TV streaming, music, movies, files.

44. Which providers operate traffic shaping on their networks as standard policy?

The majority of broadband and fibre optic providers operate traffic management policies to ensure that users receive a reasonable online experience at peak times, when the majority of internet users are online. Traffic management slows down the transfer of non-critical data (upstream and downstream) such as emails or file downloads (peer-to-peer) to ensure that services such as movie or TV streaming, online gaming or online calls operate as normal. This sort of management is applied by broadband operators typically at peak times - usually evenings and weekends. These policies also help to reduce the impact of the heavy downloading users on everyone else.

45. I’ve just moved house, how do I order a new telephone line and fibre broadband?

If you’ve just moved house then the chances are that you’ll have some form of telephone line connection visible in the house you have moved in to. Look around your home for the standard telephone socket as they may be found in your lounge, bedrooms, hallways or cupboards. It’s important to note that lines are often disconnected or placed in to a dormant state when the previous occupiers vacated the property.

The telephone line may be:

dormant (and will require reconnecting by Openreach, which your chosen broadband provider can organise for you),
disconnected and require some work at the local exchange (or street cabinet, master socket),
• requiring an engineer to install a new line if no line exists at all.

In all cases you will require a working line before broadband or fibre broadband can be activated on your line.

The best way to get your line working in your new house is to firstly look for a new broadband provider using our simple package finder: www.fibrecompare.com . Enter your new house’s postcode (don’t enter a phone number unless you know it) and we will search for available packages for your new home.

Once you find a package you like, click on the ‘Buy Now’ button and register for your chosen package on the provider’s website. All the broadband providers featured on our site can instruct Openreach to reconnect your line or, where necessary, install a new phone line in your home. Most providers can get you up and running with a phone line that needs reconnection on the day you move in, with the broadband service activating within 14 days (industry standard). If you do require an engineer visit then your new broadband provider will be organise this for you – most reconnections are free whilst new lines cost around £50 to install.

46. Who do I contact if I change my mind and want to cancel my order?

When you sign up to a package with a new broadband or fibre provider they will send you details about your order and account reference, along with useful contact details. Simply give your new provider a call and let them know what it is that’s causing you to change your mind about the order. If you just want to select a different provider (you may have seen a better offer) then it depends how far your order has progressed as to whether you can cancel it and choose another provider. You typically have 14 days before your line and broadband goes live with the new provider and your agreement starts. If you want to cancel after that then you will need to call your provider as they will have incurred costs

47. Can I use my existing broadband router for my new supplier?

The answer is yes if you can amend the username and password, but it’s usually best to accept delivery of the new router provided (normally free) by your new broadband provider as it will be configured properly for your new broadband service. The new router will also come with the correct account username and password credentials.

Broadband and fibre providers issue routers to customers that are preconfigured with your account credentials so that you can plug the device in without the need to type in your username and password manually. Recent devices also come with device management that allows the device to be reached by the broadband provider’s auto-configuration server to ensure your device is running with the right set up. Some providers also lock down their routers so that login details cannot be altered and therefore are unusable on other networks (i.e. using a Sky router on TalkTalk’s network), so taking the new router option is usually best.

48. What is student broadband?

Most students use their parents’ broadband connection while staying at home. When moving out to study at university it is usually the first time that the student has to research, organise and pay for the broadband service on their own. With student life now requiring access to the internet for educational research, email and social media, it is vital to locate the right fibre or broadband package for their needs.

Student broadband deals are often low cost packages with a greater tolerance towards download limits and are best suited to student houses where budgets are tight but data usage requirements remain high.

Some providers offer university term time contracts lasting up to 9 months at a time, which are great value for those who aren’t present at university and won’t need an operational connection outside of term time. Remember though – cheapest is not always best and its worth looking at all the options to get a package meeting the requirements of the user. Remember if it’s shared student accommodation then the data usage will be far higher than just for an individual user. The broadband connection will also need to cope with concurrent usage from multiple users in the house – a fibre broadband connection is the best way to ensure a better quality of user experience. Check our fibre broadband availability checker: www.fibrecompare.com

49. What is a wireless router and what are the different types of wireless router?

A standard modem allows you to connect a single computer to the internet at a time whereas a router allows you to connect multiple computers to the internet at the same time. A wireless router is a device that provides a wireless access point for multiple devices and also provides the same functions of a wired router. The primary use for the router is to provide access to the internet – multiple devices can connect to the wireless router using radio waves (wi-fi) rather than fixed Ethernet cabling.

The device is called a router simply as it routes signals back and forth between your computer and your broadband providers own systems, in turn allowing you to utilise their network to gain access to the internet.

In 1997 the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers created the first wireless local area network called 802.11 but due to its limitations (2Mbps) it was replaced in 1999 with 802.11b that supported bandwidth up to 11Mbps. An 802.11a option was then introduced running up to 54Mbps. The 802.11 standard operates at 2.4GHz frequency.

In 2002 a new standard, 802.11g, was introduced and combined the benefits of 802.11a and b. However, the router was open to interference on certain frequencies. In 2009 a new 802.11n device standard was introduced using multiple antennas with a data rate of between 54Mbps and 600Mbps.

50. What is cable broadband?

Cable broadband is essentially broadband provided over fibre optic cables. Virgin Media currently provides network reach to around 12 million UK homes on speeds of up to 120Mb. In comparison, BT’s fibre optic network provides speeds of up to 76Mb but are soon to offer ultrafast services of up to 300Mbps in certain areas.

51. What are wifi power line adaptors?

Powerline adaptors turn your home internal electrical wiring in to a network so that your basic home wireless signal from your router can be routed to other areas of your home that your wireless signal can’t reach. The powerline adaptor has two parts – one is connected to the wireless router via one of the Ethernet ports and then in to the nearest electrical wall socket. You then plug the other part of the device in to a wall socket in a room that is too far away for the normal wifi signal to reach. The technology inside the powerline adaptors replicates the wifi signal in the vicinity of the power socket it is plugged in to, allowing you to operate your laptop, tablet or smartphone within homes with many floors, walls or over a wide space.

52. Where can I buy wifi power line adaptors?

You can buy powerline adaptors in most CurrysPCWorld stores throughout the UK, Maplin Electronics or from various online retailers such as Argos.

53. Where can I get an email address from?

Google Mail: www.gmail.com
Yahoo: uk.mail.yahoo.com
Microsoft Outlook: mail.live.com