Cable Internet vs Fiber | Depending On Your Needs And Online Activities, Which Is Better Suited For You?

The majority of people in the world do not even know the difference between cable internet vs fiber-optic connection. For most people, it’s just "the internet" and as long as they remain connected, it’s fine. The thinking that “it’s all the same” is unsurprisingly common. 

But the truth is, there is a difference. A big difference. Your internet demands depend heavily on the type of business you conduct online. While some businesses and activities might require more power, speed, and reliability - others might not. 

Online games demand high speed and dependability, while remote office work needs minimum speed to be effective.  Depending on your needs and online activities, either cable or fiber could be better suited for you. 

Let's dig deeper and look at the pros and cons of cable vs fiber.


What is Fiber Optic?

Fiber-optic networks use light to carry signals, information, and data to and from the user via fine, thin plastics or glass fiber optic cables.  The light that passes through the fiber line pulses in a pattern and could reach high speeds of 1Gbps (Gigabytes per second) or 70% the speed of light. 

Fiber internet is best known for its higher data transmission upload and download speeds. On the other hand, there's also a DSL vs fiber dilemma to consider.

yellow cable

Who is Fiber Internet Connections for?

Any business with demands of high download speed and reliable connectivity is the main market of fiber internet connections. This is because businesses require internet services that provide continuous access for remote meetings, hosting, streaming, and communication across great distances. Unfortunately, it is less likely for cable internet speeds to be enough for any data-demanding business.

A downside to fibre internet is that it is NOT widely available yet. Most areas need to have fiber optic cables installed in their areas first to avail of fibre internet. Because not all areas are cable-ready, it is important you ask internet providers first if your area is serviceable. Also, you can visit our top internet providers review, or read our Spectrum vs ATT comparison.


What is Cable Internet?

Cable internet uses the same technology that cable television uses. Both services uses coaxial cables to transmit and receive information or data. A copper core insulated with aluminum, a copper shield, and an outer plastic layer comprise the coax cable. If you have ever tinkered with the back of your TV to try and get better reception, then chances are you have had your hands on a coax cable before. 

Speeds that can be achieved through cable internet are significantly lower when compared to fiber internet.  Due to it being very accessible, easy to install and subscribe to, it is the most common type of internet connection we have in the world. See here how straightforward the Spectrum internet installation process really is.

white cable

Cable networks can still be able to transmit data at decent speeds, but it pales in comparison to fiber (or even broadband) networks. Nevertheless, make sure to check out our best Ethernet cables article, to get a hang of it.

How about Cable Internet?  Who is this Service?

In a perfect world, every business or residential home should be able to afford a service provider that provides continuous connectivity for your video streaming, gaming (while here, we already reviewed top Ethernet cables for gaming), work, or to be socially available online.

But because a fiber optic network is not widely available yet, many people have no choice. Cable internet connectivity providers essentially use the same coaxial line as their TV provider counterparts, making it extremely easy to install and ultimately offered in more areas.

For most people, it is the only choice available to us. Which does not mean it's a bad thing. Cable internet although slower compared to fiber internet can offer decent speeds and reliability. Cable internet subscriptions are often bundled with a cable subscription since they use the same system to function. The only difference is that you will need a modem termination system and a cable modem for you to connect to the internet.


Is Fiber or Cable Internet Better?

Yes, fiber optic internet is faster than cable. But when making a comparison between one network to the next, internet speed (Mbps) shouldn't be your only consideration.

which one is better

Fiber vs Cable: Fiber wins in terms of upload speeds and download speeds.

The bandwidth speeds range from 100 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps.  You can definitely find plans higher than 1,000 Mbps but they're not worth the money for most households. If you're running a business, then go for the best Mbps fiber providers have since the advantages in speed should work in your favour no matter what kind of business you have.

Pros of Fiber Optic Internet

  • High speeds
  • Reliable
  • No throttling
  • Better stream quality
  • Best for gaming

Cons of Fiber Optic Internet

  • Accessibility
  • Lack of infrastructure
  • Expensive
  • Easily damaged

Fiber vs Cable: Cable wins in terms of availability and infrastructure in place.

When comparing providers of fiber vs cable internet, the cable is the most recommended for areas with access to phone lines (but not access to fiber copper network yet). Cable service is as widely available as any broadband service or phone line.

Unfortunately, you're lucky to find 50 Mbps cable speed today. The good news is cost should be significantly lower than broadband or fibre internet service.

Pros of Cable Internet

  • Easily Installed
  • Readily available
  • Cost-effective
  • Reasonably reliable

Cons of Cable Internet

  • Slower upload and download speed compared to fibre
  • Installation fees can be expensive
  • Might not be available everywhere

Is Fiber Optic Internet Better than Coax?

Fiber optic internet is better than a coax internet connection in so many ways. To better explain why fiber is far superior to cable or coax internet, it all has to do with friction and the effect it has on carrying data.

cable

Coax internet cables utilize copper cable is wrapped in rubber or plastic.   Copper is metal and these copper cables get hot while in use. Over time, the accumulated heat from usage weakens the copper and in turn, affects the service because it becomes susceptible to interference. 

Fiber vs Cable Compares Old vs. New Cutting- Edge Technology

Do you have a cable internet connection?

Have you ever wondered why sometimes you have a weak signal and other times the signal is strong? Even a non-techie would think there's something wrong with the service. This problem occurs due to the fundamental design and components of a cable network. Coax signals are just too sluggish and inconsistent due to friction and interference. 

netgear router

A cable network just uses old technology. In fact, many people don't even realize that their cable internet provider is slow until they switch to fiber.  Cable internet is fundamentally flawed due to the fact that it will not age gracefully. It is not designed to sustain a data-heavy future.

But it is here. And it is a working system. It is not bad, it is not good either. It simply is just working for most people. 

Connecting to the Future

Fiber internet does not suffer from all the pitfalls of cable internet.  There is no friction, there is no susceptibility to interference, and it offers greater speed and dependability. Fiber plastics or glass are more cost-efficient, more durable, and are capable to cover a longer range compared to copper. 

Fiber internet can offer internet speeds of download speeds and upload speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps and even higher.  It is built to be the internet connection for a data-heavy world. This is the internet service that will deliver consistent speeds and connectivity.

green picture

A fiber internet service is the perfect type of connection for crucial services and businesses that rely heavily on a consistent connection. Although not all businesses have taken the leap and upgraded their internet connections, viewing changes like these as risks,  there are some that have made the switch to fiber connections that have seen a noticeable return on their investment. Better communication leads to better collaboration: all possible through a stable and consistent internet connection.

Unavailability Kills the Advantages of Fiber

For all the arguments in favor of fiber internet as the best option, one thing holds it back: its availability. Cable internet has 89% coverage across the United States. It is easily installed and readily available in more areas compared to fiber internet. If you have a cable TV subscription, chances are, the same company can hook you up with an internet connection as well.

unavaileble

Unfortunately, fiber optics is yet to be that common. Although strides have been taken to lay fiber-optic lines, it has yet to reach availability as cable internet can afford the masses. Currently, fiber internet covers 25%  which covers mostly only cities and metro areas. This means even if you wanted to subscribe to a fiber connection, you might not really be able to especially if you live in a remote area.

Fiber is better for reliability, speed, and dependability. Although cable internet is readily available and much more accessible.  As of now, it all boils down to which is available in your area. Both have strengths and weaknesses, but fiber internet is better suited for the eventual data-heavy future. 

Cable vs. Fiber: Which Internet Type is Right for You?

Although on paper, fiber internet seems to be the better type of internet connection, it simply isn't for everyone yet.  With faster speeds, fiber internet is the connection and a reliable internet of the future but at the moment, we still lack the infrastructure to support it.

red cable

Cable internet is readily available and easier to acquire for the majority of areas. You can find a provider almost anywhere. Although it is the "old" technology, it is still currently the best option for most of us, in terms of efficiency, availability, affordability, and reliability.
Due to the fact that cable utilizes electrical signals, it is more subject to weather events (such as extreme cold, storms, etc.) and electromagnetic interference than fiber-optic.
Cable internet might not be the "absolute better option", but for many, it could be the only option. 

If you're lucky to find a provider of both and you're weighing your options between fiber vs cable, then your answer would boil down to cost.

FAQs

1. What is the difference between cable Internet and fiber Internet?

Cable is carried through the coaxial cable with the help of cable internet providers or tv service, whereas fiber optic cable is comprised of plastic and is developed exclusively for internet access and service. For the majority of users, fiber optic internet cable is the best option, as it offers more bandwidth connections of up to 1,000 Mbps download and upload speeds.

2. Is Fiber cheaper than cable?

While both fiber optic internet providers and cable internet provide the necessary speed for streaming, working from home, and gaming, fiber internet has a greater maximum speed (2,000 Mbps) and a lower cost per Mbps than cable.

3. Does fiber need a modem?

You'll also need more than a new modem to take advantage of fiber optic internet. Additionally, you'll need fiber optic cables installed in your home. Nowadays, the majority of telecommunications carriers offer what is known as fiber to the home service. Additionally, fiber operates on a dedicated line, which means that your firm will not share its connection with other businesses in the neighborhood.

4. Is 50 Mbps fiber fast?

Fiber optic networks connection at 50Mbps typically offer superior service lines and quicker data transfer rates and considered high speed. In addition, fiber connections with high-speed internet of 50Mbps deliver a more reliable result. Additionally, fiber connections eliminate power interruptions, lowering the risk of fire and other property damage.

5. How good is cable Internet?

The cable internet connections are highly reliable and, unlike satellite internet, is not vulnerable to outages caused by storms. However, because the network is connected to communities and localities, you may have reduced speeds during peak usage periods when a high volume of other cable internet users is online.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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