For most households across the UK, home broadband falls into two categories: traditional broadband, also known as ADSL, or fibre-optic broadband. While fibre has become increasingly common, there is a large variance in the level of effectiveness of this kind of broadband. With affordable options like PlusNet and Now often giving far lower download speeds than the more expensive contracts out there through Virgin Media or BT.
For some families, households where people work from home, or homes where an excellent connection is a must, even the highest tiers of fibre optic download speed don’t meet your day-to-day requirements. That’s where gigabit broadband comes in, offering a completely new tier of broadband download and upload speeds that are faster than ever before. Forget ultrafast and superfast internet – gigabit internet goes above and beyond to provide speeds that were previously only available in a commercial capacity.
If you’d like to know more about gigabit broadband, find out the speeds you can expect, and understand what makes this broadband internet different, read on to find out more. We’ve covered all you need to know, from the best providers for gigabit broadband to where it is being rolled out in the UK:
What is gigabit broadband internet?
To understand what gigabit broadband is, the first place to look is the name of this internet connection. Gigabit broadband offers download speeds of up to 1Gbps or one gigabit per second. Much like ultrafast internet, gigabit broadband uses fibre optic lines and is an evolution of how fibre optic services currently work. Instead of your phone line in your home connecting to fibre optic cable in the street, your router is connected directly into the fibre optic network. This is often referred to at FTTP, or Fibre To The Premises.
While some providers, like Virgin Media, are already taking advantage of FTTP to increase their download speeds to around 516Mb, upgrading the fibre optic network improves its efficiency. This, in turn, will allow providers to achieve greater speeds. Full fibre solutions are already increasingly popular across the UK. As gigabit broadband becomes more mainstream, existing fibre networks will be updated and made better to allow for this faster service.
How fast is gigabit broadband internet?
As we mentioned above, gigabit broadband is as fast as its name – with speeds over 1GB per second, it will take almost no time for individuals or multiple people to download files, updates, and even large-scale downloads like video games. For example, a 10GB download may take twice as long on the Virgin Media 516Mb download speed – and even longer on average fibre-optic broadband. But it could take just over a minute with gigabit broadband, allowing for high-speed downloads for work and play.
What speeds can I expect with gigabit broadband internet?
With gigabit broadband internet, you can expect speeds of 1GB per second or even faster. While the obvious benefit to this kind of speed is downloading files quickly, it also means that multiple people can be online and utilising the broadband without any slowing down. Streaming and online gaming will be far smoother and consistent too.
Additional speed means you can account for high-traffic use of your broadband, as well as providing consistency in smaller households. With gigabit broadband, you can download multiple files, stream in HD and play video games online with friends all simultaneously, with no drop in performance or issues with quality.
What is the difference between superfast, ultrafast and gigabit broadband internet?
When you choose your internet package from a service provider, the options you’re offered typically fall under two umbrellas: superfast broadband or ultrafast broadband. With the new inclusion of gigabit broadband, there are now three categories you can choose between for your internet. These are as follows:
The most affordable option for fibre-optic broadband packages, superfast broadband is generally one step up from ADSL broadband and has speeds of between 24 and 300Mbps. Most internet providers offer a cheap monthly rate for superfast internet, which allows for easy streaming of HD movies and online gaming.
Ultrafast broadband was previously the best broadband on the market. With a connection speed of between 300 to 900Mbps, ultrafast fibre-optic broadband could be considered the high-end option for the average household or workplace, with the ability to smoothly stream, game and download with multiple people accessing the internet at one time.
With speeds of over 1Gb and no current upper limit, gigabit broadband takes the top spot as the fastest and more advanced fibre option on the market. A recent addition, gigabit broadband is just now becoming an option for residential properties, where previously it may have been used for technical and high-end commercial purposes.
Where is gigabit broadband internet being rolled out?
The ultimate plan for gigabit broadband is for the service to be rolled out across the UK. However, as a relatively new internet broadband option, gigabit broadband is generally available in central locations. This includes Birmingham, Manchester, London, and Glasgow, amongst other locations. As gigabit broadband is an upgrade to existing fibre networks, in theory, any location that has fibre currently will have gigabit broadband in the future.
According to Virgin Media, 6.8 million homes currently can access their Gig1 service. Their goal is to expand their network for gigabit broadband to 15 million homes by 2021 across the UK. This means over the next year the service will be rolled out to households beyond cities to offer even more people the opportunity for gigabit broadband.
Which providers offer gigabit broadband internet?
Currently, the only UK provider for gigabit broadband is Virgin Media. Known as Gig1 Fibre, Virgin Media uses its existing fibre network as a convenient and practical way to update. As they already use fibre option technology in an FTTP medium, it’s easy for Virgin to upgrade to greater speeds and provide their customers with the fastest gigabit broadband service.
This doesn’t mean that Virgin Media will be the only option available forever. As popularity grows, other brands and providers will likely become involved in gigabit broadband. As a service that already offers ultrafast broadband, BT and Sky
are both providers that may be worth watching for future announcements.
How do I check if I can get gigabit broadband internet?
As the current main and only provider for gigabit broadband, Virgin Media
is the place to look to find out if you can get gigabit broadband. They refer to gigabit broadband as Gig1, and a full list of currently covered locations is included on their website here
. Alternatively, you can directly contact Virgin Media to discuss if gigabit broadband is the right fit for your home. From there, you can arrange a contract or upgrade if you have a current Virgin Media broadband plan in place.
How much is gigabit broadband internet?
If you want to upgrade to gigabit broadband, the current monthly cost is £64 per month for an 18-month contract with Virgin Media. This includes average download speeds of 1,104Mbps and an upload speed of 52Mbps on average. You’ll also need to pay a setup fee of £35 when you sign up for Gig1, on top of the typical monthly payments.
Do I need special equipment for gigabit broadband?
When you sign up for gigabit broadband, you will be sent a new router or hub. This is because the older versions of routers don’t support the DOCSIS 3.1 standard used for gigabit broadband. Without a new router, you won’t be able to access your internet service. You will also need an engineer to come out to you to complete the installation of your new gigabit broadband setup.
If you find your current internet speeds aren’t enough for your household, you may want to consider upgrading to gigabit broadband. The ideal choice for multi-person households or individuals with specific work requirements, gigabit broadband, is only likely to become more popular and commonplace over time. While Virgin Media is currently the only provider for gigabit internet, there may be more options to choose from and compare over time.
Ready to upgrade? Compare gigabit broadband internet in your area today to find a package that best suits you. If gigabit broadband is available for you, you can upgrade today to start the process and get faster internet speeds than ever before. For smooth 4K streaming, gaming and downloading gigabit broadband is the future of household broadband.