Find out if it’s time to upgrade to fiber or keep your cable internet provider

How does cable internet work?
In
its simplest form, cable internet operates by way of broadband internet
connection operating over copper cable TV lines called coaxial (“coax”) cables.
Data is transmitted via an underground network of coax cables between the cable
modem in your home or office and a cable modem termination system at your
operator’s location. Because the coax cable used by cable TV companies provides
a much greater bandwidth than telephone lines, cable internet connections use
TV channel space for extremely fast data transmission, in which certain
channels are used for downstream transmission (such as downloading a webpage)
and other channels are used for upstream transmission (such as uploading a
social media post).

How does fiber internet work?
Unlike
traditional copper-based coax cables that use electricity, fiber-optic cables
carry information using entirely light-based technology. Optical cables are
made up of thousands of glass or plastic optical fibers containing three parts:
the core through which the light travels, the cladding made up of reflective
optical material that surrounds the core, and the plastic buffer coating that
protects the cable. The three-part system promotes continuous internal
reflection of encoded light signal from one end of the cable to the other.
Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband connection uses an infrastructure of these
optical cables, buried underground or strung above ground on telephone poles,
to transmit data signals during transmission to get you online.

Which is better?
Fiber has many benefits over cable — namely high-tech speed and reliability. For
example, the Comcast cable internet plans max out at 200 megabits per second
(Mbps). By comparison, Google fiber promises speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. What’s
more, since fiber-optic cables send data faster, they are better suited for long-distance
communication, like between the U.S.
and Japan
.

Fiber-optic
cables are also less likely to go out during a power outage or lightning storm because
they rely on light as opposed to electricity.

On
the other hand, cable internet has the advantage of an established infrastructure
and wider availability. Because cable internet uses standard coax cables, it is
offered wherever cable television exists. Fiber often requires laying down new
cables in an area, meaning it is often limited to certain cities.

So which should you choose?
Despite
its technological lag, a stable framework and wide accessibility ensure that
cable is more than enough to get the job done. Because cable has been around
for decades, cable companies can rely on existing infrastructures — meaning
only maintenance costs are pushed to the consumer. Fiber, on the other hand,
often requires companies to lay down new cables in an area, making it costlier
than cable.

As
its infrastructure grows, fiber will become a faster, more affordable option
for millions of people. While the current internet environment leans in favor
of the status quo, the future is in favor of fiber.

Sources: MakeUseOf, Webopedia, The Beacon