The two most popular types of internet service often comes down to two. But how do you compare fiber optic vs. cable internet? There are five services to use to access the internet, but it’s easy to see why most people prefer fiber optic vs. cable internet:
- Standard 56K, but that could be too slow for the latest internet technology
- DSL, but you could find faster connections
- Satellite internet has issues with high latency levels and restricted practical use. In addition, it isn’t economical.
- Cable internet
- Fiber optic cable internet
The last two seem like workable options. They are the two most popular options today, and the two best options when choosing an internet service provider. Because of that, people usually compare them and want to find out what the differences (and similarities) are, and which one is a better option. Read on to find out.
The mechanism of cable internet
Cable internet transmits data by way of coaxial cables also called “coax.” The cables have a copper core wrapped in a dielectric insulator and woven copper shield with a protective outer covering made of plastic. The technology is similar to cable television and works with a cable modem termination system that connects with the internet at the service provider’s end and cable modem at your home or workplace.
Mechanism of fiber internet
Fiber optic cables transmit data in the form of light in place of electricity. Whatever may be the form of data like sound bytes for a phone call or podcast travels through fiber cables. These cables are made of glass or plastic fibers and relay data using total internal reflection. When light touches any material, it is reflected, refracted, or absorbed by the material. Data can be relayed only if the light is continuously reflected from one point to the other within the cable. If the light gets absorbed or refracted, it will not relay the data.
The actual fiber cable is made with two layers, the core and cladding. Glass or silicon dioxide makes up the internal and external layers. The outermost layer or cladding is composed of a mix of materials that ensure a lower index of refraction as compared to the core. As long as the cladding has a low index, it will contain the light and prevent it from escaping the cable during the relay of data.
Comparing speeds between cable and fiber internet
Having understood the mechanism of the two options, your next question likely is, which is a faster connection, fiber optic vs. cable internet? Comcast cables may offer you a maximum of around 200 Mbits/s. On the other hand, Google Fiber can give you speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s. That’s a clear indication that fiber internet is a faster option.
While fiber is technically a faster option, you might want to keep other factors in consideration that are common with both cable and fiber internet.
- The number of subscribers in your area using the same service around the same time. A larger number of users will translate into slower speeds.
- The number of service providers in your area and the competitive prices and speeds they offer. For instance, Execulink, and Rogers are both cable internet providers whereas Bell provides fiber internet. However, you might find that all companies provide packages at the same speed and price.
Comparing features: cable internet vs. fiber internet
With the speed issue out of the way, let’s talk about the other factors that can influence your decision.
Features of fiber internet:
- Fiber optic cables relay data faster and that makes them ideal for communicating over longer distances. Most of the internet relies on this service.
- Fiber optic cables don’t use electricity so they’ll continue work even during a power outage.
- Fiber optic cables are made of glass and plastic so they’ll function unimpeded by power cables, lightning, or even electrical devices.
- Maintenance costs of fiber internet are low in the long run.
- Fiber internet may have limited coverage being available in specific urban areas only. That’s because companies must lay down new cables to provide internet services.
- You can use your modem and router to connect to fiber internet. However, the process is somewhat complicated and you may have to call in the experts to set it up for you.
Features of cable internet:
- Cable internet works using existing cable TV wires, connections, and infrastructure. For this reason, the service is extensively available in rural areas also.
- You can use cable internet with the modem and router you have.
Factors that can influence your long-term choice
If you’re thinking of getting an internet connection, it makes sense to get the service provider that has the latest technology and is here to stay for a long while. Considering a long-term solution, you might want to go with Google Fiber or Bell. According to PC World, Bell offers the fastest internet services in Canada. However, many other companies are now opting for the Comcast technology. In addition, do keep in mind that different companies service the various cities of the country so you might want to look for the one operating in your area.
Futuristically speaking, you may soon have access to balloon-powered internet that Google is developing or maybe, the internet services provided with the use of drones and lasers as Facebook experiments indicate. You might also want to know that LTE, an acronym for Long-Term Evolution and cellular internet are also working to modernize their technology so you could be looking at new developments soon.
An important fact to keep in mind is that users are constantly relying on the mobile computers in their phones and the portable Wi-Fi hotspots that their handsets can create. These internet connections are fast and more reliable than most internet packages. Until ISPs come up with more efficient services, you’ll have to make do with the limited data packages that networks provide to your home or workplace.
Choosing the right internet connection
Cable internet is fast and reliable while fiber internet comes with advanced technology and could change the way you use the internet. However, several factors come into play when you’re making a choice. The most important being the availability of the service in your area. While fiber is no doubt preferable (and, innovative), check for the available options and make your choice.