During the early days of the internet, home customers had to rely on the slow, unreliable service provided through dial-up service providers. Later, Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) offered an affordable broadband solution, but one whose speeds couldn’t keep up with the increasing bandwidth needed by the rapidly-growing internet.
Today, most high-speed internet customers rely on one of two competing technologies for their browsing, gaming, social, and streaming needs: cable and fiber. When choosing your internet provider, it’s essential to know the differences between fiber vs. cable internet services.
Fiber vs. Cable Data Transmission
The first and most apparent difference between cable and fiber internet services is the medium they each use to bring data into your home. Cable internet relies on coaxial cable (coax) to carry signals. You’re familiar with coax as the wire that runs from the wall to the TV or set-top box in a cable television setup. Coax transmits data electrically, using short pulses of electricity to encode and transmit information from place to place.
Fiber (or fiber optic) internet uses tiny, flexible strands of glass that are bundled together and encased in a plastic sheath. The device on one end of a fiber sends pulses of light to a receiver on the other end. These pulses travel near the speed of light and are trapped efficiently within the glass strands, meaning that the signal doesn’t degrade or weaken along the length of the fiber. By not using electrical pulses as the signal carrier, fiber avoids the problems from weather, power transmission lines, and other sources of interference that affect cable systems, leading to a more reliable connection.
Fiber vs. Cable Availability
Neither cable nor fiber internet will work if you can’t get the signal from your internet provider to your home. The size and availability of cable and fiber networks vary greatly and are among the most significant differences between the two technologies.
Cable networks rely on the same cable television systems that have been built across the US for more than 50 years. As a result, most homes are served by at least one cable provider, and adding high-speed internet to a cable account is usually as easy as hooking a cable modem up to one of a customer’s existing cable outlets. The FCC estimates that more than 88% of American homes have access to cable.
As a new technology, access to fiber is considerably more limited. Fiber optic networks have only begun appearing in neighborhoods in the past decade. Connecting a customer to a fiber network requires the installation of fiber optic lines from the nearest connection point to a customer’s house. As of 2021, only about 14% of US homes had access to high-speed fiber internet connections.
Fiber vs. Cable Speed
In short, fiber internet is considerably faster than cable. While some modern cable internet systems can provide speeds up to 1 Gb/s, fiber systems can offer speeds up to 10 times faster. Additionally, fiber systems offer symmetrical speed – data is sent to and received from the internet at the same speed. Cable systems are asymmetrical, so upload speeds are typically a fraction of the download speeds.
Why does upload speed matter? Suppose you’re a serious gamer or are heavily into podcasting or other content creation. In that case, your upload speed can be even more critical than your download speed when it comes to racking up the highest score or getting your new episode online.
Fiber vs. Cable Cost
Because of its special dedicated hardware and infrastructure, and its limited availability, fiber tends to be more expensive than cable internet. As the nation’s fiber network increases in size and more consumers switch to fiber connections, prices could decrease in the future.
Fiber vs. Cable Internet
Like any competing technologies, both fiber and cable have their advantages and disadvantages:
|Cable Internet||Fiber Internet|
|Readily available||Not available in all areas yet|
|Speeds of up to 1,000 Mb/s||Speeds of up to 10,000 Mb/s|
|Asymmetrical download/upload speeds||Symmetrical download/upload speeds|
|Generally less expensive||Generally more expensive|
If you want internet that is faster and more dependable than any other option, talk to Public Service about switching to fiber internet.
Public Service is your solution for affordable fiber internet in Middle and South Georgia. We are continuing to bring the infrastructure for high-speed, reliable internet to both urban and rural communities within the state, so ask us about how you can make the switch today: 478-847-4111