The Fibre Fibbing Holding Back Britain’s Ultrafast Future

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Cast your mind back to when you signed up for a shiny new “fibre broadband” package in the UK. The marketing promised blistering fast speeds over a state-of-the-art fibre optic connection. But the reality is, you were likely never hooked up to a full fibre line.

The technology delivering most residential and business “fibre” services across Britain is actually an ageing hybrid solution known as FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) or its latest rebrand SoGEA (Single Order Generic Ethernet Access). Despite the fibre claims, these packages rely on repurposed copper phone lines for the final leg into properties, creating a bottleneck.

“Copper can be a significant bottleneck when providers advertise and sell their broadband packages as ‘fibre’ – that severely limits the actual speeds households and businesses can achieve,” explained Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at

Regulator Crackdown on Fibre Fudging

For years, broadband providers got away with labelling SoGEA packages as simply “fibre” without qualification. In 2018, Britain’s advertising watchdog ASA ruled that SoGEA could not be marketed as “fibre broadband” unless greater clarity was provided about the copper phone line component.

“…the claim ‘fibre broadband’ was misleading because it didn’t make clear the technology went just partway with fibre and used copper wires to properties,” said the ASA.

Despite this, providers have continued fibre fibbing. Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, admitted “We know that can cause huge amounts of confusion in the market.”

Hamstringing FTTP Growth

This persistent misnomer around what actually constitutes full fibre broadband has significantly hampered adoption of Britain’s future-proof FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) network. FTTP represents the real deal – a completely fibre optic line running directly into homes and businesses with no copper bottleneck.

“Many customers think they are already paying for a full fibre service, so have little incentive to upgrade,” said Andrew Ferguson of “FTTP take-up has lagged because of the ISP marketing machines luring consumers to SoGEA under the fibre banner.”

Without clear consumer education, the UK’s £6 billion investment in a national FTTP rollout may struggle to gain mainstream appeal. As the country plays fibre catch-up with frontrunners like Spain and Portugal, regulators and the broadband industry need to finally come clean on what constitutes real full fibre.