Cable vs. Fiber

Cable and Fiber Internet options are two of the most popular broadband choices available. Each have their pros and cons for industries large and small, so let’s compare them based on availability, speed, and reliability to know which will best suit your 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.



Availability for cable Internet is one of its biggest advantages over fiber-optics. If you’re in an area where you can receive cable TV, you’ll have the option of getting cable Internet.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 than Cable, new cabling is required for service; therefore, it may be a while before it covers the same footprint that Cable provides.2


Cable can provide businesses with speeds all the way from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps down and and 1 to 5 Mbps up, which is more than adequate for most small businesses.1 Bandwidth is shared with other users in the area, so speeds can slow down during peak, or work, hours. Cable generally has a latency of 100 milliseconds, whereas with fiber, latency is usually not an issue.3
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.


Cable Internet provides an “always-on” connection: as long as your device is on and cable lines are active and in working order, you’re connected to the Internet.3 If you’re in an area that experiences a lot of cable TV outages or interruptions, you’ll also experience the same for your Internet, so if you rely heavily on your connection to conduct business, it would be ideal to have a backup connection in place.1 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 Cable 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 Cable, which generates electricity.2 Typical repair times are 2-12 hours depending upon the outage.


Cable connections are often bundled with phone and cable TV services, which allows you a good price for your cable Internet; the stand-alone option will cost more, most likely. Installation fees may also apply with this service, but overall, monthly fees can be anywhere between $60 and $300 per month.4
The cost for fiber-optic is generally much higher than the cost of Cable, 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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