Broadband speeds

So last month, we switched our broadband to Vodafone, which also meant that our internet speeds increased from about 30-40 Mbps to around 70-80 Mbps (as per the above result).

80 Mbps is sadly the fastest speed that we can probably get here. I live in Sowerby Bridge, a small town in the Calder Valley and our options for internet access are limited. In some respects, we’re lucky to have access to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). This means that the cables providing fixed line broadband internet are fibre optic as far as a metal box a couple of streets away. But the cables from that box to our house are a series of thin, copper cables, and current VDSL2 technology means that much higher speeds are unlikely to be possible.

Over Christmas, we stayed with my parents in York. Being a bigger and more affluent city, there are more options available for broadband internet. In addition to the FTTC service provided by BT Openreach, there’s also:

  • Cable broadband from Virgin Media. These cables were laid in the 1990s by Bell CableMedia, which became Cable & Wireless, then NTL, and finally Virgin Media. Whilst they’re also an FTTC solution, the cables from the cabinet to the home include a much larger coaxial cable.
  • Full fibre broadband from Sky and TalkTalk. York’s streets and pavements were dug up again in the late 2010s to install a FTTH (Fibre to the Home) network, which takes fibre optic cables all the way into people’s homes.

My parents have had cable broadband since this became available in the early 2000s. Initially this was just 512 Kbps, but speeds have increased over the years, and this was the test result whilst I was there at Christmas:

Virgin Media broadband test result

So my parents get broadband speeds that are six times faster for downloads, and nearly three times faster for uploads. And if they wanted to, they could switch to a FTTC broadband solution that could easily double those speeds.

Here in Sowerby Bridge, our best hope for faster broadband is that CityFibre bring their FTTC network in a few years time. So far they’ve installed fibre optic cables in Pye Nest, which is the community between Halifax and Sowerby Bridge, but their web site says there are currently no plans to reach us. Virgin Media did install some cables nearby a few years ago, but they seemed to bypass our street unfortunately.

There is wireless broadband to consider, but we get a weak 4G signal as we’re in a steep valley. 5G is available up the hill in Halifax and may make it down here in future. But, for now, I think 80 Mbps on a fixed line is the best that I can expect.

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