Need to Know: Fibre to the Cabinet

Fibre is to thank for the increase in broadband speeds the country is witnessing, but how has it been getting to our homes and businesses?

Broadband cable

The dominant technology in the race to provide high speed broadband to the country is Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). But what is FTTC, who is using it and how?

What is FTTC?

FTTC stands for Fibre to the Cabinet. A fibre cable runs from an exchange to a roadside cabinet. From here it is linked to homes via an existing copper network. This then connects the home or business to the broadband connection available to them.

Why use FTTC?

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Fibre cable is used as it can achieve the fastest speeds for the internet. The problem is to get everyone connected to it directly would be very costly. By taking it to a cabinet just a few hundred metres from the house and connecting it up using existing copper networks, it gives many users the speed benefits of fibre without the added cost.

Unfortunately, there is a sacrifice to be made as FTTC does not achieve the same speeds as if it were deployed directly to a building FTTP or Fibre to the Premises but it is still a big improvement than previous technologies.

Which companies use FTTC?

The major high speed broadband projects hitting the news at the moment are all using FTTC technology.

BT's current pilots taking place across the country of 40Mbps broadband hoping to eventually hit 60Mbps is using FTTC technology, as is TalkTalk's 40Mbps broadband trial taking place on BT's FTTC network.

Virgin Media is also using a type of FTTC for its high speed broadband. It is using DOCSIS3 to link up the customer to the cabinet and this is increasing speeds even further. It has so far used it to connect 12 million people to broadband up to 50Mbps and is now trialling 200Mbps broadband in Kent.

Want to read more background on the latest IT topics? Click here for all the tech cheatsheets in our Need to Know series.

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