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The Difference Between Cable and Fiber Optic Internet

Posted 2 years ago

The newest tech to hit the internet service market is fiber optic internet, but is it as good as everyone claims? What is it, exactly? What are the pros and cons of fiber optic internet? How does it stack up against cable?

At C1C, we understand that, with any new technological innovation, businesses and consumers alike have questions, and we are here to answer them.

What is Fiber Optic Internet?

Unlike traditional methods of data transmission (like cable or DSL), fiber optic internet does not use metallic wires and electrical signals to send data from one place to another. Instead, fiber optic internet uses a particular type of fiber that transmits light signals carrying data.

Pros and Cons of Fiber Optic Internet

Pros

In the fiber internet vs. cable debate, fiber has numerous advantages. With this next generation technology, fiber can transfer lots of data quickly with very little latency (delays in data processing), making it the fastest internet available. The data flows over long distances without degrading like it does with cable, so the information gets from one place to another quickly and intact. Even better, fiber optic internet does not have bandwidth caps, so you can theoretically use as much as you need.

In addition, fiber optic internet has the scalability, stability, and security that a business needs. Fiber optic wavelengths can be turned on and off on demand, and extra fiber infrastructure can be placed to accommodate growth, which means a growing business can easily customize and scale their services if needed.

Fiber also is more reliable in that it is more resistant to electromagnetic, corrosive, and lightning-related damage, and it is less likely to go down during a power outage; thus, it tends to be a more stable option.

Furthermore, this form of internet service is also harder to hack, and it does not radiate signals the way cable internet does. Breaches are easier to identify as soon as they occur as well, meaning that your data is more secure with fiber internet vs. cable. Plus, the fire hazard associated with traditional copper wiring is also absent with fiber, as it does not use electricity.

Finally, there are cost benefits to fiber optic internet. Fiber internet service usually costs about the same as cable, sometimes a little more, depending on where you are and what you need. In the long run, though, it tends to be less costly as the overhead is lower than for copper networks, and the service costs for consumers and businesses is likely to decrease as fiber optic networks grow.

Cons

While there are significant advantages to fiber, it is far from a perfect replacement for traditional technology. While fiber is thinner and lighter than copper cable, it is also more delicate, making it more susceptible to physical damage from construction mishaps, wildlife, radiation, or chemicals. It is also sensitive to bending, so maneuvering and laying fiber cabling is a challenge. Fiber optic threads are also potentially harmed by what is known as “fiber fuse.” This occurs when there is an imperfection in the fiber and, when too much light meets the anomaly, it causes permanent damage to the fiber.

Fiber also has the disadvantage of what is known as unidirectional light propagation. In layman’s terms, this means that it can only transmit information in one direction. If you need to send and receive information, you need two concurrent fibers.

Another major drawback to fiber internet vs. cable is the high short-term costs. Fiber optic internet requires a whole new infrastructure to be implemented for use, which is very expensive. It requires trained specialists and special equipment to install. Repairs are also very costly if the fiber is damaged.

An additional issue with fiber is its limited availability. As it is a relatively new technology, fiber optic internet is not yet as widely available as cable or DSL.

Pros and Cons of Cable Internet

It’s important to carefully consider your options when debating cable vs. fiber internet. Fiber may be very intriguing, but it may not be the best option for your business at this time. In weighing your options, consider these pros and cons of cable internet as well.

Pros

Like fiber, cable is well-known for its reliability. Under most circumstances, barring electrical storms and power outages, you will have a connection readily available at nearly any time with cable. If you are in a location that does not often face power outages and fiber is still fairly new, cable may be the better option. Cable is highly accessible, as it is currently available in far more locations than fiber.

Depending on your business’s needs and location, cable may also be less expensive. So, if you don’t need the higher speeds from fiber, you may not find it very cost effective at the moment. Plus, with better industry-wide standards established relatively recently for cable, the technology is ripe for performance growth

Cons

With cable, speeds are dependent on usage rates by others in your area, so if you are in a commercially-populated region, you may see slowdowns during peak business hours. Delays (latency) can also be more frequent with cable, in addition to it being generally slower than fiber. Furthermore, cable service providers usually have data caps, and if you go over these limits, you face additional fees. Finally, cable is not as eco-friendly as fiber based on the amount of data it transmits in relation to the amount of energy used.

Choosing Between Cable and Fiber Optic Internet

When weighing the pros and cons of fiber optic internet vs. cable internet, it is important to remember that what will be right for your business depends on a number of factors, including availability, scale, budget, speed and security requirements, and more.

If you have any questions, the experts at C1C are here to help! Contact us here to schedule a free consultation, where we can answer your questions and help you find the internet solution your business needs.

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