What Is The Difference Between Fibre Optic And ADSL Broadband?

If you are interested in improving your broadband connection you may be curious as to what the difference is between standard ADSL broadband and the much talked about fibre optic broadband like that offered by virgin media.  In the following article we will explain the difference between the two when considering the most important factors, which will hopefully help you to make the best decision for your own needs.

What Is ADSL Broadband?

ADSL was what came after dial-up internet and with it came improved performance and speed, as well as a split line so that you could make landline telephone calls without logging off.  These connections normally use either coaxial cables or copper telephone lines to carry the data into your home.  There have been many improvements over the year to make the connection much faster.

What Is Fibre Optic Broadband?

Fibre optic broadband, also known as FTTP makes use, unsurprisingly, of fibre optic cables.  Every cable is made up of hundreds and thousands of separate fibres, which are as thing as one strand of human hair.  The information is carried along the cable as light photons instead of the electrons that travel along coaxial and copper cables.

Which Is The Best?


The advertised speed for ADSL lines is at around 240Mbps or less, however the actual speed discovered through a study conducted by Ofcom was only 6Mbps.  While ADSL2+ lines are advertised with a speed of 16Mbps, though they normally deliver around 11Mbps, which is definitely an improvement and means that someone using it can do the majority of ordinary internet browsing without any trouble.

However, the most popular fibre optic packages advertise speeds of either 38Mbps or 70Mbps and the actual speeds for these connections comes close to the claimed speeds.

The interesting thing is that although fibre optic packages would appear to be better, the speed of each broadband type also depends on location.  So in one area fibre optic may be the best option, while in another it may be that ADSL is the best and fastest.


A lot of broadband packages have download limits that mean you can only download a certain amount of data in the space of a month.  This includes emails; push notifications from programs and apps, images, videos and website data.  While many of the current ADSL packages claim to offer unlimited downloads, because of the average ADSL bandwidth being at around 6Mbps, you will not be able to take full advantage of it.  Some ADSL broadband lines and packages are not even fast enough to stream HD video on, which in this day and age may be a deal breaker for you.  This is why fibre optic broadband might be the best option if you intend on doing a lot of downloading or viewing HD videos.


It goes without saying that fibre optic broadband costs more than the ADSL alternative.  However, it should be kept in mind that the performance of fibre optic broadband is much better overall.

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