Full fibre and symmetrical fibre broadband

Full fibre broadband is a fibre optic connection that uses fibre optic cables from the exchange to the premises or homes, hence the names FTTP (fibre to the premises) and FTTH (Fibre to the home).

Pure or true fibre optic connections do not use copper cables, such as fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which uses fibre between the exchange and the street cabinet, while copper cabling connects the cabinet to the premises. By contrast, pure FTTP broadband uses only optical fibre cables capable of sending data to end users at gigabit speeds.


Full fibre broadband

Fibre to the cabinet
Fibre to the premises
Poor internet performanceFast and reliable
Speeds up to 80MbpsUltrafast, Gigabit speeds (1Gbps+)
Slower upload speedsSymmetrical upload speeds
Slower speeds, when premises are far away from cabinetsSpeeds do not degrade with distance
Cheap, cost-effectiveExpensive
Poor performance when compared to FTTP, though, it is enough
for homes with 2 – 5 users.
Ideal for multi-users, businesses, 4K streaming,
online gaming
Available to 96% of the UK premisesAvailable to 25% of the UK premises

What is symmetric fibre broadband?

With a symmetrical fibre connection, the upload speed is the same as the download speed. 100 Mbps symmetrical speed fibre broadband service offers 100 Mbit/s download and 100 Mbit/s upload.

In contrast, asymmetric fibre optic connections typically offer significantly lower upload speeds than download speeds


Virgin Media Media M100 Fibre Broadband is an asymmetric fibre service with an average download speed of 108 Mbps and an average upload speed of 10 Mbps.

Hyperoptic Superfast offers symmetrical speeds, with the same 150 Mbit/s download and upload speeds

Do you need symmetrical speed?

For a reliable internet connection when streaming high-quality video and playing online games, you need the fast upload speeds that a symmetrical connection offers.

If your plan offers decent upload speeds of 20Mbps and above, it’s more than enough for high-bandwidth activity on some devices.

However, symmetric speeds of 100 Mbps or higher are great for performing the same task on multiple devices. So when you need to upload a lot of data, run business or work from home or play high bandwidth games, symmetrical speed is preferred.

Symmetric and Asymmetric networks

In an asymmetric network, the download channel is highly optimized for faster download speeds, while the upload channel does not allow for high bandwidth and faster data transfer.

Asymmetric connections are commonly found in traditional ADSL, FTTC and G.fast fibre broadband.

Although Virgin Media is asymmetrical, it uses new DOCSIS 3.1 cable technology that can provide faster upload speeds and gigabit download speeds.

Full fibre or FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) broadband is usually symmetrical, offering the same download and upload speeds. The network uses fibre optic cables to connect directly from the exchange to the premises without the need for copper cables.

Full broadband and Symmetric service providers in the UK

In the UK, FTTP full fibre broadband is provided by three types of providers:

Most full fibre broadband providers offer both symmetric and asymmetric fibre plans to give their customers pricing options, as asymmetric fibre packages are less expensive.

FTTP is currently available in 30% of the UK. Openreach is the largest FTTP broadband provider and is expected to reach 25 million UK households by 2026.

Virgin Media has upgraded its entire network to the new DOCSIS3.1 standard which currently offers maximum upload speed 52Mbps on Gig1 (1130Mbps) plan. It’s 2Gbps+ service which can improve upload speed is likely to be launched this year. Virgin Media has also revealed its plans to complete FTTP upgrade in its cable areas (15.5 million homes) by 2028.

Virgin Media has upgraded its entire network to the new DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which currently offers a maximum upload speed of 52Mbps on the Gig1 plan (1130Mbps). A 2Gbps+ service, which could boost upload speeds, could be available later this year. Virgin Media also announced plans to complete the FTTP upgrade of its cable area (15.5 million households) by 2028.

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