What gigabit internet means for your home

Gigabit internet is something that you will hear more and more of over the next few years, so we thought it was probably best to explain how it will affect your life.

You’re probably used to your internet speeds increasing gradually as technology improves. Last year, for example, average download speeds increased 28% from 36.2 Mbps to 46.2 Mbps.

Gigabit internet means speeds of 1,000 Mbps or more. That’s an increase of more than 2,000%. It’s not just faster. It’s a genuine game changer.

We’ll get into what that means a bit later, but first let’s cover the basics.

What on earth is a gigabit?

A gigabit is a measurement of the amount of data that is transmitted by your internet, and is the equivalent of 1,000 megabits (or – if we want to break it down even further – a billion ‘bits’). What gigabit internet really means is that your broadband is capable of transmitting a gigabit of data in a single second.

So your speed is actually measured in gigabits per second, which is often shortened by providers to Gbps, or even just Gb.

1 Gb Internet? What’s the point?

I think we’d all agree that the internet 20 years ago was pretty rubbish. Well, the difference between 1 Gb internet and what you’ve got now is about the same. The change will be enormous.

It’s the kind of difference that is difficult to visualise. Just as not many people in the 90s were anticipating the boom in social media, the move into gigabit internet will open up an entirely new realm of possibilities.

This includes the stuff that sci-fi writers have been predicting since they could pick up a pen. From immersive 360 degree virtual reality to interactive robots in-tune with your kitchen appliances.

It’s not just about being able to game or stream 8K Ultra HD tv in every room of the house, it’s about having a genuinely interconnected home – all designed to make your life easier.

Where can I get gigabit internet in the UK?

While the largest providers are not yet capable of delivering gigabit internet in the UK, there are a number of smaller companies like 6G Internet which already have the technology.

There is no national infrastructure for delivering these sorts of speeds, so each company is installing its own network. This means that coverage is very patchy, because smaller companies that use fibre optic cables need to see if there’s enough demand in a specific postcode to justify digging up the roads and installing their cables.

Work is underway to speed up the installation of new fibre optic cables in towns, but this can take several years, millions of pounds and a lot of noise and disruption.

On the other hand, 6G Internet can install its wireless network within a town or city relatively quickly, enabling the vast majority of premises to receive its signal.

This is what’s happening in Blackburn right now, where 38,000 homes and businesses will be able to access gigabit internet within the next 12 months, with speeds rising to 6 Gbps by 2025.

This is just the start of 6G’s plans to reach 4 million homes within three years.

To see when we’re coming to your town, check your postcode now.

The difference between superfast, ultrafast and hyperfast internet

When you’re looking for the best broadband deal, you tend to get bombarded with terminology. Sometimes providers use different terms for the same thing. For example, some ISPs display their speeds as ‘Mb’ and others use ‘Mbps’, which both represent the measurement of megabits per second.

But there are times when you really do have to pay attention to the words, because not all broadband is created equal. So in case you’re ever curious as to what exactly you’re getting, we have produced this handy guide to the differences between superfast, ultrafast and hyperfast internet.

What Ofcom says about superfast and ultrafast internet

The law of averages says that if you’re reading this at home or in the office, it probably has access to superfast internet, which Ofcom defines as anything between 30 Mbps and 299 Mbps.

The same Ofcom standards put anything over 300 Mbps into the realm of ultrafast, but the general consensus is that these categories are too broad to really prove useful.

It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to consider someone with 30 Mbps and another person with 250 Mbps as receiving the same level of internet speed, which is why the industry has now added a few more categories.

Superfast vs ultrafast internet

Providers generally now categorise superfast as up to around 76 Mbps, as this is the fastest realistic speed that can be delivered by the existing copper cables that connect your premises to the internet exchange.

Anything more than that requires some additional infrastructure, whether steel coaxial cable, fibre optic or (our personal favourite) wireless broadband delivered to a small receiver on the roof.

Both Virgin’s steel coaxial cables and 6G Internet’s wireless broadband can deliver ultrafast speeds starting at 100 Mbps. Ultrafast is now considered to cover anything up to 500 Mbps.

Hyperfast vs gigabit internet

This is the point at which speeds move into hyperfast, ranging from 500 – 1,000 Mbps. Virgin cannot achieve these speeds as of yet, while 6G Internet’s network in Blackburn is expected to hit 1,000 Mbps within the next 12 months.

Otherwise known as gigabit internet, speeds of 1,000 Mbps upwards can only be achieved by digging up your road to connect fibre optic cables to your premises, or by connecting 6G Internet’s receiver to your roof. By 2025, our Blackburn network will be capable of delivering 6,000 Mbps, or 6 Gbps.

We are continuing to expand across the UK and aim to serve around 4 million households within the next three years.

If you want to know when we arrive, check your postcode today.