FTTC vs Ethernet

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Without connectivity, most businesses wouldn’t be operational for very long; given this dependency on connectivity, it is unwise to select your connectivity package on price alone.

Your connectivity options come down to broadband technologies like FTTC (or FTTP and G Fast) versus Ethernet technologies.

It’s important to understand the differences between them before you may your choice of the best connectivity option for your business.

FTTC is Fibre to the Cabinet is where the fibre-optic cable is used from the telephone exchange to the green, roadside cabinet and then, copper cable to the business. FTTC can achieve speeds of up to 80Mbps for downloads and 20Mbps for uploads.

The way FTTC is delivered is actually one of its downsides; copper cables are susceptible to signal loss and adverse environmental conditions which is why BT is phasing out the use of copper cables in 2025. Another comparable option to FTTC is FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premises) where instead of part copper connection, you have a full-fibre connection from the exchange directly to the business which does give a faster connection but availability is not as widespread.

Now, Ethernet...

The internet is worldwide, switching data packets over the network.

Ethernet delivers those data packets as the carrier, within a smaller network; usually across one or a few sites. Ethernet is commonly referred to as leased lines. Ethernet has been designed for businesses, not the residential market. Unlike FTTC, a fibre leased line connects directly to the internet and there is no sharing of infrastructure. Ethernet uses dedicated high-capacity fibre optic lines and Ethernet services are dedicated, uncontended broadband services with guaranteed bandwidth, synchronous speeds and SLA’s.

Contended vs Uncontended

A contended connection is when you share bandwidth with others; once the line leaves your building it is no longer just you that uses it; if you are using it for personal use, you might not notice the difference (except at peak times) but in a business’s environment, this can cause your connection to be unreliable when you need it most.

When a service provider says a broadband circuit is ‘uncontended’, it means is a dedicated internet connection and you don’t have to share bandwidth with others, all the way to the data centre which means that you shouldn’t experience slow speeds at peak times.

FTTC tend to be contended circuits and Ethernet tend to be uncontended.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous

Synchronous means you get the same bandwidth for uploads and downloads. E.g. If you choose 200Mbps you get that 200Mbps for uploads and 200Mbps for downloads.

Asynchronous is where the service bandwidth is higher weighted on the download compared to the upload. For instance, 1Gbps for downloads and 50Mbps for uploads.

FTTC tends to be asynchronous and Ethernet tends to be synchronous, although there are some asynchronous options.

Service Level Agreements (SLA’s)

What happens when your connection drops or there is a fault? How will your provider respond? How long will a fix take? It all boils down to what kind of SLA do they offer? When something goes wrong you need to ensure that a fix won’t take too long that it significantly affects your business operations.

With Ethernet faults and dropped connections are exceptionally rare; ethernet availability is often in excess of 99.9%, however, should there be any issues, fix times tend to be much shorter. Ethernet SLA’s typically tend to be a few hours (usually between 4 and 8 hours) fix time compared to the 1-2 days for FTTC.

Also, with Ethernet SLA’s they tend to cover not only the fixes and faults but also data speed (also known as latency), variability in the speed and how accurately data is transported. It means if you have systems like IP telephony you can ensure that those applications are prioritised.

With FTTC connectivity you can obviously opt for a business-grade broadband which is generally the residential product with some added benefits like SLA’s but do check the exact description of the SLA, as a business customer you are likely to get a reasonable service level but if you see it at a lower price, it’s likely that things like the SLA length has been compromised to offer that price.

Ethernet Options

Ethernet services are dedicated, uncontended broadband services with guaranteed bandwidth, synchronous speeds and SLA’s. There are different Ethernet options available with different bandwidth options:

Fibre Ethernet

Fibre Ethernet is an Ethernet Over Fibre service, the connection provides high-speed ethernet bandwidth from 10Mbps to 10Gbps delivered as Ethernet over fibre optic lines.

Fibre Ethernet uses bearers. Bearers are the bandwidth size of the available circuit, it’s the maximum speed that the circuit can go up to. With Fibre Ethernet you can get 100Mbps bearers and add on block of 10Mbps, 1Gbps bearers and add on blocks of 100Mbps up to 500Mbps then after 1Gbps or 10Gbps bearers that you can add on blocks of 1Gbps.

With Fibre Ethernet, you are guaranteed uncontended, high bandwidth, uptime and a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Speeds: From 10Mbps up to 10Gbps

Discover how upgrading from FTTC to Fibre Ethernet helped improved Stressline's buiness operations

Read the full Case Study

Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SoGEA)

SoGEA stands for Single Order Generic Ethernet Access. Usually, you’d install a phone line with broadband but with SOGEA, you have broadband without the need for an underlying voice access product whilst offering speeds up to 80Mbps.

SoGEA is offered at the same data rates as FTTC broadband. The only difference is the need for a phone line has been removed. With the phase out of copper cables in 2025, SOGEA will replace FTTC to deliver connectivity. SoGEA provides a broadband solution using the existing fibre/copper network.

You can get contended and uncontended services with SOGEA. The bandwidth is asynchronous, however with SOGEA Ethernet you can have an uncontended synchronous 20Mbps / 20Mbps service, but this is dependent on your distance from the street cab.

Speeds up to 80Mbps

Ethernet Flex 1Gbps

With Ethernet Flex, you are guaranteed an uncontended, synchronous 200Mbps but you can have an unlimited, 1Gbps burst at no extra cost and on-demand.

Speeds: Guaranteed 200Mbps both up and down. 1Gbps burst at no extra cost.

Converged Ethernet Options

There are several choices when it comes to Ethernet and what you want it to support, you can choose to have Ethernet Data only, Ethernet Voice Only (used in conjunction with SIP Trunks and Hosted Phone Systems), or Converged Ethernet (Voice, Data and using SIP and a Hosted Phone System.)

Converged Ethernet is the fully managed variant of standard Ethernet and combines both Voice and Data on a single high-speed connection prioritising all voice traffic to guarantee the number of concurrent calls required and quality, without degradation of the service during periods when traffic usage on your circuit could be in high utilisation.

With Converged Ethernet you get dedicated, uncontented, guaranteed bandwidth speeds and SLA’s.

Verdict: FTTC or Ethernet?

FTTC tends to be cheaper than ethernet because you are sharing bandwidth with others so it brings down the cost, but also takes away the guaranteed maximum speeds that you get with an ethernet (leased line) connection. Ethernet can provide the stable bandwidth that your business network needs.

FTTC tends to be suited to small businesses that need a good connectivity speed but don’t transfer a lot of data, continuously. Ethernet offers high speed, performance and the reliability that businesses need. We recommend Ethernet when;

  • Most of your business applications are cloud-based.
  • You want to use SIP Trunks and/or a Hosted Phone System.
  • You have been experiencing internet downtime.
  • You transfer a lot of large files
  • You have had slow download/uploads.
  • You need reliable connectivity, 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • Your business has more than one site.
  • Your business in an area of poor connectivity such as a rural location.

For those who are price conscious, please do explore both broadband and ethernet options as you may be surprised as to what you can get for your budget, however, regardless of your choice, ensure that you have a suitable SLA in place. Ultimately, you need to understand the true value of what suitable connectivity gives your business and then invest, accordingly. Don’t put your business at risk by under-investing in your business connectivity!

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