Supercharged new broadband speeds could be coming to your home on April 1, 2024.
BT-owned Openreach, which owns and operates broadband infrastructure used by major suppliers like Sky, EE, BT, and Plusnet, has confirmed plans to unlock top speeds of 1.8Gbps across the UK. Openreach is over halfway through its plan to upgrade 25 million homes to full-fibre broadband by December 2026.
You’ll need to be connected to that next-generation full-fibre broadband to take advantage of the new speeds coming online in April. As it stands, most broadband suppliers who rely on Openreach’s network offer a maximum download speed of 900Mbps.
The new maximum of 1.8Gbps is twice as fast. It comes hot on the heels of an announcement from Virgin Media that it will also be doubling speeds for thousands of users.
EE was a trailblazer with these faster speeds, piloting a 1.6Gbps broadband package last year, which it promises can handle up to 190 devices simultaneously. At those eye-watering speeds, it takes just two-seconds to download an hour-long episode of television in standard definition.
With the latest announcement from Openreach, reported by the team at ThinkBroadband, we’d expect other providers that rely on its infrastructure to follow in EE’s footsteps with faster top speeds.
The flagship new Openreach plans will offer upload speeds of 120Mbps. Upload speeds limit how quickly you can send data, which lets you back up photos to the cloud, for example. This is also what impactsthe quality of the video from your camera during FaceTime and WhatsApp calls.
Download speed refers to the opposite and will restrict your ability to pull data from the internet, impacting anything that you’re downloading or streaming. This is what you’ll need to increase to enjoy a buffer-free boxset on Disney+ and Netflix.
Following the shake-up in April, the new download speed tiers available to Openreach-powered brands will be ― 40 Mbps, 80 Mbps, 115 Mbps, 160 Mbps, 220 Mbps, 330 Mbps, 550 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 1.2 Gbps, and 1.8 Gbps.
Not every provider will need to offer all of these options, but we’d expect to see these bandwidths popping up ona number ofbroadband contracts in the coming weeks. For now, the current maximum speed available from BT, Sky, Plusnet, and TalkTalk sits at 900Mbps.
April is also when broadband customers across the UK will see their monthly bills rise. Sky customers can leave their contract penalty-free if they’re unable with their new broadband bills.
Ofcom recorded the average home broadband speed nationwide at 69Mbps last year, roughly 13x slower than the current maximum download speed from these brands. With the arrival of 1.8Gbps broadband plans in April, you’ll be able to unlock 26x faster speeds than the current UK average.
There’s no word yet on pricing for these new download speeds. However, EE charges £69.99 per month for its flagship 1.6Gbps speeds, so it’s reasonable to assume that most broadband providers will fall somewhere around that price point.
For the ultimate download speeds, you’ll still be better off with Virgin Media, which offers 2Gbps plans to roughly one million homes across Belfast, Cardiff, London and Glasgow.
Dubbed Gig2, Virgin Media says the speedier broadband plan will enable you to download the complete second series of The Traitors in just 30 seconds. That same download would take over 14 minutes on the average UK broadband connection.
While impressive, Gig2 isn’t actually the fastest broadband speed you’re able to get in the UK. Smaller, full-fibre suppliers like Community Fibre and Zzoomm offer 3Gbps and 2Gbps for customers on their network, which is separate from BT-owned Openreach’s nationwide network.
Robert Johnson is a UK-based business writer specializing in finance and entrepreneurship. With an eye for market trends and a keen interest in the corporate world, he offers readers valuable insights into business developments.