ADSL vs. Fiber

ADSL and Fiber Internet connections are on two different playing fields. Each offer a myriad of advantages, but when you break it down and look at availability, speed, reliability and cost, you can really start to understand where each will or will not accommodate your business needs.

For more tips on finding a suitable Internet connection for your business, check out our post about things to consider when choosing an ISP.



ADSL connections are available in mainly urban areas—wherever you can get a phone line, you can typically get ADSL. You need to be within 22,000 feet from the phone company’s central office (CO) in order to receive this type of service because as you move farther away from the CO, the signal weakens and Internet speeds slow significantly.1
A fiber optic connection is available in limited areas–but that’s quickly changing due to the demand of faster speeds. Since fiber utilizes a completely different cable structure then ADSL, new cabling is required for service, therefore; it may be a while before it covers the same footprint as ADSL provides. Speed is not affected, however, by distance as is the case with ADSL.2


ADSL’s downloading speeds range from 5 Mbps and up to 50 Mbps in some areas, with upload speeds up to 1.0 Mbps. ADSL is an asymmetrical connection and can not offer the same upload and download speed.  Latency with ADSL usually ranges from 75 to 400 ms, depending on the location of your business.1
Speeds for a fiber optic connection are nothing short of impressive, ranging from 5 Mbps and 100 Gbps for downloads and uploads! Fiber is typically a symetrical connection so you’ll have the same upload and download speed. With an Internet connection like this, multiple users are able to download and upload, share files, and stream audio and video all at the same time with virtually no effect on performance.2 Latency is not typically an issue with fiber either.


An ADSL connection is what’s considered an “always-on” connection, meaning your device is always connected to the Internet as long as it’s on and the phone lines remain active and undamaged.1

It’s important to keep in mind that if your telephone line is accidentally cut by a service worker or is taken out of service due to extreme weather conditions, your Internet will go down. If your business demands internet that’s highly available you may consider an additional connection for your business for it would be ideal to have a backup option for Internet access.2 Typical repair times are 24-48 hours depending upon the outage.

Of all of the Internet connections available, fiber is arguably the most reliable and the highest quality. Even in instances of power outages, it is far less likely than ADSL to be affected. In addition, fiber optic lines use glass as a conductor and therefore experience no interference from high-voltage electrical equipment or nearby power lines, unlike ADSL, which generates electricity.2  Typical repair times are 2-12 hours depending upon the outage.


Monthly prices for ADSL services can range anywhere from $20 to $90, depending on the speed you sign up for and the length of your contract, if there is one. Since phone service is necessary, you may endure additional charges for the phone line to be in working order, and installation fees may apply as well.3
The cost for fiber-optic is generally much higher than the cost of ADSL, ranging from $100 to $5,000+ a month. These prices can vary depending on your location, your desired speed and the terms of your service agreement. Installation fees and activation fees can occur but are typically waived with promotional offers or the signing of a 1-, 2-, or 3-year agreement.2

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