Fibre-optic broadband and fibre broadband are one and the same thing.
Most of the time, you’ll see this written as “fibre broadband”, or Fibre to the Cabinet, shortened to FTTC.
FTTC broadband is sold in two varieties: “up to 38Mbps” and “up to 76Mbps”.
Fibre optics are cables that transmit data with light instead of electricity. This makes for faster internet speeds, higher bandwidth and more reliable connections.
However, because the existing UK networks for both telephones and cable TV were built out of copper cables, almost all Fibre to the Cabinet broadband uses slow copper lines at some point in the connection.
With fibre broadband, copper telephone lines connect you to a green street cabinet before connecting to fibre optic cables.
This is similar with cable broadband, which uses coaxial copper lines instead of telephone lines.
Copper cables significantly reduce the speed and quality of a broadband connection. The next phase of major innovation in broadband is full fibre, which uses ONLY fibre-optic cables to deliver broadband and forgoes any slow copper in the connection.
As of 2018 full fibre broadband is currently only available to around 2% of homes and businesses in the UK. Hyperoptic and Gigaclear are the two major companies building full fibre networks for home broadband. For businesses, CityFibre are the main company installing full fibre networks in major UK cities.
Constructing a full fibre network is an incredibly expensive proposition so most ISPs like Sky and TalkTalk are stuck with using some copper in your fibre-optic broadband connection.