Fiber vs Cable Internet

fiber vs cable internet

When it comes to your home internet, you deserve a reliable connection. Choosing the right connection for your home is easier said than done. 

Nowadays, there are numerous factors to consider when deciding on the internet capabilities you need for your home. It’s common to consider the number of users and devices on your Wi-Fi network and whether you need a connection for leisure or business purposes. While these are important aspects to consider, it’s also essential to decide on the technology that powers your internet connection.

Fiber-optic and cable internet are two major types of internet connections. They offer the same service but differ in structure, speed, availability, reliability, and cost. If you’re searching for home internet, this guide will give you a better understanding of whether fiber or cable internet is best for you.

Difference Between Fiber and Cable Internet

The main difference between cable and fiber internet is how they transmit information. 

Cable: Cable internet utilizes copper coaxial cable lines to transmit data. This broadband connection works through radio frequency signals. Since you can use the same coaxial cable line for cable TV and internet, it’s common for internet providers to offer cable internet in a TV bundle.

Fiber: Traditional forms of the internet rely on cables, satellites, or telephone lines to transmit data, which often lose speed due to radio interference or long distance. Fiber internet transmits data using ultra-thin, glass, fiber-optic cables that harness light instead of electricity, resulting in more bandwidth and faster speeds.

Our advice: Both cable and fiber internet are great options, which makes choosing one challenging. To decide which is best for you, look at whether the convenience of traditional cable internet or the innovative makeup of fiber-optic internet is more important. 

difference between fiber and cable internet

Speed of Cable and Fiber Internet

Cable internet features download speeds of 10 to 1,000 Mbps and 3 to 30 Mbps upload speeds.

It can handle video streaming, gaming, and most lengthy downloads similar to fiber internet. However, due to cable internet operating on a shared network, connection can get fuzzy at times, specifically during peak times of the day, like the evening. This can lead to internet slowdowns. Hence why cable internet best supports small-scale businesses and homes with just a few connected devices.

Fiber-optic internet is best for powering multiple devices simultaneously, all on the same network. Its internet download and upload speeds work hand-in-hand. For example, fiber internet with AT&T features speeds up to 940Mbps for both downloads and uploads. You can expect top speed at all times whether you’re streaming a video or simply surfing the internet. This is especially beneficial for avid gamers needing an ultra-fast internet connection. 

Our advice: Take inventory of your connectivity needs. Examine whether you will have multiple devices connected as well as who will be using the network and when. Then decide which speed is necessary for your needs.

Availability of Cable and Fiber Internet

Cable internet is traditional and therefore more widely available. Not only is it fast and reliable, but its cables are easy to install, making it a solid solution for homes and businesses. Cable internet has roughly 88% of national coverage, with at least 10 Mbps or more. 

Fiber-optic internet is not as widely available, but it is expected to grow. In 2020 alone, households with fiber grew 10% from the previous year, with roughly 54 million U.S. homes using a fiber connection. On the other hand, fiber internet operates entirely on electrical signals from fiber-optic cables used to transmit data. Currently, AT&T Fiber service offerings vary from state to state but you can check fiber availability in your area.

Our advice: When it comes to fiber vs. cable internet, the bottom line is cable will be more accessible than fiber internet. You may prefer one option over the other, but may also be limited by the available services where you live.

at&t fiber internet vs cable internet

Reliability of Cable and Fiber Internet

Although cable internet is more common, it is more susceptible to the weather due to the exposed cables, presenting challenges such as slowed network speeds or easy disconnection.

If your area is susceptible to inclement weather conditions or experiences frequent power outages, reliability will be a problem. Cable internet needs a reliable source of electricity to operate.

On the other hand, fiber-optic internet does not experience interruptions from electricity disruptions. Its connectivity comes from glass cables that harness light instead of electricity, making fiber internet more reliable since its network is more difficult to interrupt and provides more consistent service.

Our advice: Both cable and fiber provide reliable internet connection; however, it’s crucial to examine the area you live in. If outages are a rare occurrence, then cable could be an option, but if outages occur frequently, then fiber may be the best option.

Cost of Cable and Fiber Internet

It used to be widely known that cable internet was the more affordable option than fiber internet prices; however, that notion is changing as fiber prices become more competitive.

Pricing of cable internet is still mainly determined by your location. You can also choose to purchase cable internet with phone and TV services in a combined package or internet and TV bundle from your service provider to get some additional savings. 

The cost of fiber internet may be higher, but that will depend on your usage, the speed of the internet you desire, and your location. Some providers may also require you to pay installation and activation fees to use the service. Packages or bundles for fiber internet services are less common.

Our advice: Determine what you’re willing to pay for internet before deciding on an option. That way, you can have a solid idea of what you want before looking at the price tag.

Is Fiber or Cable Internet Best For You?

The answer to whether fiber or cable internet is best for you lies in the factors outlined above. Most households do just fine with cable internet. It’s easy installation, speed and affordability make it a good option for a full household of internet users.

If you’re looking for an internet that is future proof and can easily support multiple devices and users without slowdowns, fiber internet is your best bet. Fiber will give you the fastest speeds over longer distances with consistent connectivity. If fiber-optic technology is available in your area, large households and internet aficionados will enjoy the perks the most.

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