Technology Explained

What’s the Difference Between FTTC and FTTP? Fiber Internet Explained

Simon Batt Updated 13-05-2020

If you’re looking for a new fiber-optic service, you may come across the terms “FTTP” and “FTTC”. Even if you learn what each letter stands for, they don’t fully tell the story of what they mean or how they affect your service.

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Let’s explore the difference between FTTP and FTTC, and which you choose.

What Is FTTP Internet?

Some fiber optic cables

FTTP means “Fiber to the Premises”, but you may also see it called “Fiber to the Home” (FTTH). An FTTP service is a pure fiber-optic cable connection running from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) directly to the user’s home or business.

As such, your internet connection is fiber all the way to your home. This is a good thing, as when it comes to rating cable vs. fiber internet Cable vs. Fiber Internet: Which One Is Better? The two most common forms of broadband internet are cable and fiber. But which one is better for you? If you have the option of both, which one should you go with? Read More , fiber is Computer Networks, quicker than cable.

What Is FTTC Internet?

What's the Difference Between FTTC and FTTP? Fiber Internet Explained FTTC FTTP Street Cabinet
Image Credit: Mike Cattell/Flickr

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On the other hand, you have FTTC, which means “fiber to the cabinet.” This means the fiber connection from your ISP doesn’t go all the way to your home; instead, it goes as far as a large metal cabinet in your neighborhood. You may have seen them on the streets near your home.

FTTC uses both traditional copper wire cable and fiber optic cable. It uses fiber optic cables right up to the street cabinet, and then copper wire to connect the cabinets to homes and businesses. Because it is incredibly expensive to install fiber optic cables to a home or business, engineers use copper as an economical substitute.

It also has a feature called DLM, or dynamic line management. This automated system ensures that the connection remains stable, error-free, and fast.

DLM achieves this by monitoring the system. When there is a problem, it will either use interleaving to correct errors in the line or it will slightly reduce your speed. Much of the time, however, DLM does not need to take any action.

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How Are They Similar? How Are They Different?

While both FTTC and FTTP promise high speeds, FTTP’s complete fiber-optic connection allows for higher speeds than FTTC.

They are both faster than conventional ADSL, but FTTP uses fiber all the way, while FTTC has to rely on a slower copper cable. It is important to note that these may not be the speeds you are actually getting, so it is vital to test your internet speed How to Test Your Home Network Speed (And Decipher the Results) Think your internet isn't fast enough? The problem might not be with your ISP! Here's how to run a network speed test at home. Read More  from time to time.

FTTC stands out as a copper/fiber optic blend, which makes it less expensive to install. However, it was not built for the long term and its potential bandwidth is very limited, while FTTP was built so that it could be expanded and improved upon.

But in terms of availability, they differ greatly. FTTC is commonly used by casual users wanting a domestic internet connection. FTTP is typically only available for businesses.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

FTTP is great in that it provides high-speed broadband service to users in their homes and businesses. Not only that, but it is designed so that people can go back into the system and add onto it as needed, built with the future in mind.

However, installing FTTP is incredibly expensive. It could be considered the broadband of the future, as well as the most future-proof connection as it should be simple to add to.

Trying to connect everyone up with a pure fiber connection is far too expensive, however. New infrastructure would need to be added, and that involves digging up the roads and the sides of the streets to lay the cables.

On the other hand, FTTC still provides great internet speeds. You are also more likely to be able to find a provider for FTTC if you’re just a casual user. Many providers only offer FTTP connections to businesses, so the high-speed connection is not taken up by users at home.

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How Can You Get FTTC or FTTP?

If you live in a country with access to fiber internet, FTTC is pretty easy to get. There’s a good chance that the broadband packages you see in targeted advertising are FTTC. As such, if you’re currently subscribed to fiber optic internet, you’re already on FTTC.

Going to FTTP is the hard part. Some ISPs will roll out FTTP to select cities, so if you’re one of the lucky few, you may have it already.

If you’re not, contact your ISP’s business store to see if you can arrange a quote and installation for FTTP. If not, it’s worth looking for FTTP providers in your country to see who can provide domestic connections.

It’s worth noting that FTTP’s expenses won’t stop at installation. While the installation itself will be in the thousands (if not more), your monthly bills may rack up in the hundreds. FTTP is a big investment that’s best for businesses or very, very passionate individuals.

Which Should You Pick?

The difference is important depending on why you want to use the internet. Are you using it to play games and watch YouTube videos? Then FTTP will be a needless financial sacrifice and probably not a good idea.

However, if you need very fast speeds or you want to get a whole business online, you may find FTTC inadequate. At this point, it’s worth going the extra mile to ensure you have the best speeds available to you.

Getting to Know Your Internet Connections

FTTP and FTTC sound complex, but the premise behind them is easy to understand. FTTP gives you pure fiber from ISP to your building, while FTTC needs to take a slower copper wire to your home. If you’re not looking for incredibly fast speeds, however, FTTC will work fine.

If you want to learn more about internet connections, be sure to read up on the different types of internet access technologies Types of Internet Access Technologies, Explained What kind of internet access do you have? Broadband? Satellite? Fiber? Here's our breakdown of internet connection types. Read More .

Related topics: Bandwidth, Internet, ISP, Jargon.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. RC
    January 17, 2019 at 5:32 am

    I’m very interested in getting the FDTS(FibreDownTheStreet) to FTPS4(FiberToPlayStation4)!! Or at least something similar. I’m capable if I had direction.

    RC

  2. mike
    April 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks for this article. We have very slow dsl from Cincinnati Bell which is the slowest service they offer they now have Fioptics. They installed fioptics in our whole neighborhood my brother lives up the street and he is on a private drive and i know they did not run cable to his house being so far I am guessing he had FTTN ? Anyway we live down the street and they installed ours in our yard every 3 houses they did something he had it and didn't like it I think he had problems with his tv service being at the bottom of a hill on a private drive i would expect issues.Now since he did not like the service my Mom will not upgrade ours she says he did not like it. Well he does not know the first thing about the internet and i know more than the rest of them I fix all the pc's whne they have issues. I said we need fioptics they say no dave didnt like it. I wish someone would tell them one's experience does not effect someone else's experience. And his tv not working his nothing to do with out isp speed.I think ours will also be ftth or fttp and his was fttn? Anyways we have the cheapest dsl Cincinnati Bell offers and it is slow we have 8 devices maybe 9 running on it i tried to explain to them we need Fioptics to speed up our connection of course the next best service will be better they do not understand this and distance cab effect speed I hear and he is far from the street. SO him not liking it really has nothing to do with us especially when he has no idea about download speeds or upload speeds all he knows is his 4 g phone is fast ya well fioptics is faster than crappy dsl also right?Man help me im stuck with these fools and my brothers bad experience with his cable tv.

  3. Joe Blow
    December 17, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    This is some of the dumbest stuff I've read. Where does the author get their quoted speed limitations of copper vs fiber? For one thing, the medium (copper or fiber) doesn't affect the speed of your connection, it more affects the distance. Fiber can go many kilometers without the need of regenerating the signal. Your copper ethernet CAT6 cable at the back of your PC or laptop is capable of running speeds of up to 10 Gb/sec, IMPOSSIBLE, IT'S NOT FIBER OPTIC FAST GUY STUFF. People are dumb and gullible.

  4. Ger Vloothuis
    January 2, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Nice if you actually have a choice. Most people don't. You'll have to put up with whatever FTTx is in your neighbourhood. And if there isn't any....... Well, you're out of luck :-)

  5. Maryon Jeane
    February 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    You're very lucky, Jonathan - but I sympathise heartily with your problems with BT, they're a nightmare. My partner works in IT and no matter how many contractors from how many different firms and companies are arranged to be on a site, it's inevitably BT which lets everyone down. As for their service to domestic properties, I could bore for England on the subject both with my own experiences and those recounted to me (with anguish, fury and at length) by other people. BT couldn't organise a game of ring-o'-roses in a children's nursery.

    However, now you've managed the hard bit: getting the cable properly set up and inside your premises, change from BT as soon as your contract expires. There are some good providers out there, with decent customer service and most of them cost a lot less (those that don't are usually offering something extra, such as a business, high priority service).

    I use Andrews & Arnold (AAISP) and they're excellent. Not cheap, I grant, but they really cut the mustard and their customer service is incredible (real, knowledgeable people who don't try and blind you with techie-speak when they don't know immediately what's wrong). They'll even do the 'daft' things which aren't meant to make a difference, but actually do for some reason best known to medical science - anything to get the best out of the (in my case appallingly bad) setup you're stuck with in terms of the infrastructure.

  6. Jonathan Smith
    February 4, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I bought a house on a new development recently which was advertised as having high speed broadband. I thought it just meant FTTC but it was indeed FTTP. Having lived in previous properties using FTTC & Virgin's fibre optic network I was curious to see how this would be. Speed check confirmed I would be able to get 300mb, however at £50/month (or 200mb for £37/month) I decided to opt for the base 38mb (£10/month for 12 months offer, normally £23/month or £26/month for 78mb).

    First annoyance was in the set up. BT's systems had to set me up as a non fibre/infinity customer before they could then switch me to fibre/infinity (bizarre given I already had a phone line/internet with Sky). So Homehub 4 was sent out & once I had standard internet services they could then request fibre. Then the Homehub 5 came! (BT agent expressed similar despair at their systems).

    Next annoyance wasn't BT's fault but more my housebuilder. The house came with FTTP wired up to the outside but not into the property. Thankfully as I live in an end terrace I was able to get the cable around the outside of the house & directly into the living room where the router would live. The alternative, that a neighbour had to do, was bring the cable in & have it follow the skirting around to where she wanted the router (not ideal in a brand new house but a necessary evil).

    But once up and running, wow. I get bang on 38mb down/9mb up as advertised. After the 12 month offer ends I will up it to the next package up. Hopefully they will introduce a tier in between 78 & 200mb in the future. But so far, so good!

  7. Doc
    February 2, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    "...transformed into digital digital signals." That's some seriously digital transformation there, where they do it *twice.*
    #corrections

    • Taylor
      February 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      Super signals. ;)

  8. Maryon Jeane
    February 1, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Huh! That's my considered comment.

    Living in a rural (but not frantically remote) area, despite promises from various politicians, injections of cash from the Government a few years back, stable and fast broadband is a distant corpse light. (At the moment we are scheduled for an upgrade - if all goes to plan (ha, ha, ha, ha...) in the middle of 2018, to a blistering speed of 1 Mbps.) Our last major upgrade, in 2013, was the replacement of the looping copper wire to the premises; the engineer who came to replace it said that the wire dated from 1948.

    I've got friends living in very remote locations in other countries (one of whom was until recently looking for the missing link - which, as you can imagine, means seriously remote), and they've got better broadband than we've got in this soi disant civilised country. I work from home and, frankly, it's embarrassing working with people in other countries because they must think I'm making excuses when downloads and uploads take so long and not infrequently fail. I have to work at very high speed and use every workround in the book just to make up for the pathetic state of our broadband.

    All the Government initiatives and braggadocio speeches about moving forward into the next century, commuting along the information superhighway, empowering the digitally disadvantaged, etc. and so on mean absolutely nothing without even this most basic of commitments to the infrastructure.

    • eric jay
      February 2, 2015 at 12:04 am

      Much like in my country, PH! I am sure we'll be seeing this type of connection in the turn of the century when the monopolized telcos here adopts 'innovation'.

    • Maryon Jeane
      February 2, 2015 at 12:39 am

      Believe me, Eric - you have my sympathy and I know exactly how you feel...

    • Col. Panek
      February 3, 2015 at 12:07 am

      In New York we have the Tweedledum Party and the Tweedledee Party both in the pockets of the cable, wireless and telco companies. Fortunately the FCC called them out on how backward we are - they raised the definition of broadband.

      Maybe the Cubans have the right idea: make your own internet.

    • Maryon Jeane
      February 3, 2015 at 12:14 am

      What, you mean hand USB sticks and other media from hand to hand manually, Col. Panek? I agree it would often be quicker. Maybe pigeons and that retro stuff - what was it called? Ah yes: paper...

    • Taylor
      February 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      I'm very lucky in this regard. I get pretty killer speeds, and we do need it with a family of four and three of us working from home and going to school. But. I live 30 minutes from LA, which isn't rural at all. Hope the bs gets resolved soon, because it's ridiculous that people are getting screwed and left out of this.