FTTC, FTTP, ADSL, VDSL Internet Comparison - What is the Difference?

May 11, 2022



If you’re looking to order a new internet connection, or upgrade a connection that you already have for faster broadband speeds. Often, among your choice of tariffs you may be offered between a choice of connections called FTTC, FTTP,ADSL and VDSL and you may find yourself asking, what do these mean? In this blog we discuss the differences between these to hopefully help you make an informed decision as to what is best for you. Let’s begin.


Fibre Optic vs Copper

Before we begin with the comparisons between FTTC, FTTP, ADSL etc., it’s important to have a basic understanding as to what is being compared. The primary difference between these is the cabling that is used through part or all of the cabling before it reaches your property. In the UK, we have a very old infrastructure that had to be upgraded to include internet/ broadband, at the time when it was originally installed the primary use was for telephone landlines and voice. The cables installed for this were copper pair cabling with a single copper pair providing the voice and later data signals to the property.


While this was adequate for what was required at the time, it was not necessarily suitable for high bandwidth internet connections that we rely upon today. For this reason and increasingly over time, the copper cabling has been replaced with fibre optic cabling which can carry significantly more data than copper. Fibre optic cables work by sending the data over light which means there is little or no resistance over the cable length making it more suitable for higher frequencies, greater bandwidth, and faster connections.


What is FTTC?

FTTC stands for Fibre To The Cabinet. It is a high speed internet connection that uses fibre optic cabling all the way to your nearest data cabinet that your property is connected to. It then utilses the existing copper drop in cable that feeds your house/ property, which may enter via underground ducting or overhead from the nearest telegraph pole. By upgrading the connection to your nearest data cabinet a vast amount of copper cabling can be removed and will greatly improve to the internet speed to the cabinet, this should also mean a significantly faster internet connection within your premises when compared with ADSL for example. If you are fortunate, the copper cable that feeds between the data cabinet and your property will be a short length meaning that this will not reduce the connection speed. If you’re unfortunate, for example if you live in a rural community with a poor internet connection, you may find that you still require hundreds of metres of old copper cabling between the cabinet and your property which could cause a slow internet connection. The main advantage of a FTTC connection is that if the infrastructure is already in place, the installation can take place without replacing the cable that enters your property. This means that the installation is relatively easy to carry out and inexpensive.


What is FTTP?

FTTP stands for Fibre To The Premises. I’m sure you already understand the difference between FTTC and FTTP already but Fibre To The Premises is exactly that. It uses a fibre optic cabling not just to your nearest data cabinet/ distribution point but all the way into your property. By doing this the speed and reliability of the internet connection is greatly improved as the old copper cabling from the telephone network is completely removed. The main downside of a FTTP connection is the work that may be required to get the network upgraded and fibre cable installed into your property, this can be tens of thousands of pounds depending on the distance and route it has to take. This means that it is often unsuitable for many domestic broadband connections, where it is often referred to as Fibre To The Home or abbreviated to FTTH. This does look set to change in the near future however as many areas are digging up the roads to install for fibre networks. For instance in my area in Eastbourne, East Sussex at the time or writing this, this is currently underway. The drop in cable can then be replaced via underground of overhead wiring.


What is ADSL?

ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is sometimes just referred to as DSL. If you can remember as far back as “dial up”, where you couldn’t use the phone and broadband at the same time. ADSL came along to rectify this situation, improve the connection and give is “broadband”. ADSL relies on copper cabling between your property and the data cabinet and between the data cabinet and the carrier network. If you’re unlucky, this could be a great length of copper cabling which will be slower the longer the cable length. This means that ADSL is usually significantly slower than a FTTC connection and much, much slower than a FTTP connection. I have been to properties where they have less than 1Mbps. The advantages of ADSL is that it’s available nearly everywhere and is inexpensive when compared to superior fibre connections. While ADSL can be suitable for some home internet connections, it will not be suitable for most business and commercial installations which may require a reliable internet connection for multiple machines, VOIP telephone systems and cloud based services.


What is VDSL?

VDSL is not a very commonly used term, it stands for Very-high-speed Digital Subscriber Line or Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line. It uses the same (copper) subscriber line but improves the internet performance with the installation on a optical node nearby the users location (data cabinet). It is basically the same as FTTC which is a far more commonly used term. You will notice many of the BT faceplates on their master sockets say “VDSL” for where you are to connect your internet router.


FTTC, FTTP, ADSL Speed Comparisons

The connection that offers the best speed if FTTP which doesn’t rely on copper cabling at all, the only place where copper is introduced is on your internal network. The second best would be FTTC which removes all the copper cabling all but the drop in subscriber line. Meaning that ADSL is the slowest of the three. Please see the below chart for comparisons, you should also be aware that these are “up to” speeds and the speeds available at your location are subject to change. We advise that you check with the service providers first before signing up for a service that may not fulfil your requirements.


Connection Type              Line Type            Cable                  Speed

ADSL                                  Asymmetric        Copper                 Up to 24Mbps

FTTC                                  Fibre                    Fibre/copper        Up to 80Mbps

FTTP                                  Fibre                    Fibre                      Up to 1Gbps


Alternatives to ADSL, FTTC, and FTTP Connections

If you find yourself in a location where you’re not able to get either a ADSL, FTTC, or FTTP connection or you’re just limited to an ADSL connection which may be too slow and unreliable for your needs. Fortunately, there are now alternatives to internet over a landline. I will go into this in greater depth in a future blog but some of your options include, Starlink, satellite broadband, 4G, 5G, cable, and internet via microwave.


Questions Regarding Broadband Connections

I hope you liked this article. If you have any comments/questions or if you just wish to provide a critique or some feedback, please feel free to post them in the Blog Comments section below and I will endeavour to answer these myself as soon as possible. Some ground rules first though however.

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4-     Please be patient for a response. I’m a technician by day and busy doing other stuff. I will answer when I can.

All that being said, I hope this blog provided some value for you and please check back here for future articles.

Until next time,


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