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Fiber Optic vs. Cable For Your Internet


As you have probably noticed by now, you have more and more options when it comes to getting internet service. More than likely, you may be trying to decide whether fiber optic or cable would be best for your internet needs. While both have various pros and cons, there are many differences between the two that should be taken into consideration. If you're eager to make a decision, here's what you need to know about fiber optic and cable internet.

How Fiber Works

The biggest difference between fiber optic and cable internet is the way that they send and receive data. Through fiber optic internet, data is transmitted via light signals through strands of glass rather than electrical fibers. Due to the use of glass strands, data can be transferred faster and more clearly than that of a bundle of copper strands, which is used in cable internet cables.

Fast Transfer of Data

If getting data transferred very quickly is your primary focus, it's hard to beat fiber optic internet. Since fiber optic technology does not rely on metallic wiring and electrical signals but rather transmits light signals that are carrying data, it is much less prone to delays and can transfer large amounts of data very quickly. Cable internet typically gets 72mps, whereas fiber optic typically gets 250-1,000mps. Meaning that fiber optic is at least 3xs faster than your typical cable internet.

This tends to be noticed the most when streaming 4k movies. With some households, the speed of the internet is too slow for them to get a movie theater quality 4k movie due to compressed data and slower speeds. However, if you have fiber optic internet, it’s likely that you can get more clear movies and enjoy a quality that is similar to movie theaters. With the increase in 4k streaming services on platforms like Netflix, this will continue to be a driving factor for people to upgrade to fiber-optic internet if they haven’t already.

Additionally, the bandwidth of cable internet is typically shared with neighbors. Meaning that if you are streaming a 4k movie at the same time as your neighbor is playing fortnight, you may notice that your internet slows down considerably and it becomes less reliable.

Potential Damage

If there is one drawback to fiber optic internet, it is that the fiber optic threads are more susceptible to being damaged than traditional cable internet. Whether it is wildlife, construction issues, or chemicals, fiber optic cables can become damaged easily due to being sensitive to bending. This is because they are built with glass strands, which are less pliable than copper cabling.

Connection Differences

Depending on the demand your internet usage requires, fiber-optic internet may require patch leads so that you can connect different devices for signal routing. Patch leads are most common in telecommunication because they are a reliable way to connect and transmit to a data center or a network. That being said, if your internet usage is for entertainment purposes, it is unlikely that you’ll require such a full-proof way of connecting to the network.

Cable Has Lower Costs

Overall, cable internet tends to cost less than fiber optic internet. Though the speeds of data transfer may be slower, cable internet is well-known for being extremely reliable and resistant to damage and frequent power outages. If you use your internet primarily for entertainment and less for work or school, choosing cable internet will likely result in substantial savings each month.

Additionally, most homes are built standard with cable internet so the price is typically built into your home. If you want to get fiber optic internet when it isn’t already installed, you’ll likely be looking at $3-8,000 installation. However, there are companies that are building out their fiber optic services for free in some communities.

Potential Data Caps

While you can save money if you choose cable internet service over fiber optic internet service, you do run the risk of having your service provider place data caps on your service. If this occurs, it means you can only use up so much data per month while online. Should you exceed your data cap, your provider will hit you with additional fees for data usage that can add up rather quickly.

Less Prone to Hacking

Finally, fiber optic internet is deemed to be far less prone to being hacked, since its signals are not radiated in the same manner as cable internet. Also, should a breach occur, it can often be identified much quicker in a fiber optic system, making it less likely you may lose key data.

Since you will need to take into consideration many factors when deciding between these two types of internet service, it's best to speak to experts on both sides prior to making your final decision.

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