Cable vs. Fiber-Optic: Which High-Speed Internet Service Is Right for Your Business?

The internet connection you choose for your business can have a major impact on employee satisfaction, productivity, and your bottom line. Unfortunately, most small-business owners don’t have the time to invest in thoroughly investigating all their options. As a result, they often wind up making a hasty, less-than-ideal choice.

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So you don’t make this mistake, we’ve matched up two of the most popular broadband options available: cable and fiber. Read on to discover the pros and cons of each and determine which one will most effectively pump up productivity in your office.

Cable vs. fiber-optic business internet
FeaturesAT&T business cableVerizon Fios
business fiber-optic
Download speed1,000 Mbps940 Mbps
Contract lengthVaries2 years or none for higher cost
Early termination feesVaries35% of monthly rate for the remainder of the contract
Dedicated internet option
24/7 technical support
Free installation
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What is cable internet?

Cable internet service is offered through the television cable provider in your area. Cable internet is often offered as a stand-alone option, or it’s slightly discounted when bundled with a television cable package and phone service. Cable internet requires a modem and a professional installation by a technician, as a cable must be run to your office.

Fun fact

Broadband vs. cable internet: what’s the difference? Actually, cable internet is considered a broadband technology. The term “broadband” is used to cover all kinds of high-speed internet connections, including fiber, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), satellite, and cable.

What is fiber internet?

Fiber internet is carried through a bundle of thin, lightweight optic fibers via modulated light. As thin as human hairs, these strands of optically pure glass can carry digital information over impressively long distances.

But because fiber cables aren’t as prevalent as cable TV lines, the process of installing fiber-optic cable internet can be more intrusive and take a bit longer than installing cable. Fiber is usually installed by a professional, yet some providers offer a self-installation option. Be aware that if you choose to self-install fiber, you may not be covered by the provider’s service contract.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

Round one: Reliability

Cable internet connections are considered a reliable internet service. However, if your business is located in an area that frequently experiences cable outages or interruptions, you can expect your internet service to also be impacted. If your business must have internet to operate, it’s a good idea to have a backup internet access option available.

Fiber-optic networks are generally considered as reliable as cable. Fiber is considered a passive system, which means power does not need to be applied within the system network. So, during power outages, a fiber-optic network is less likely to be interrupted or go down. Also, because the conductor is glass, it does not generate electricity, so fiber is immune to interference that can be caused by nearby power lines or high-voltage electrical equipment. Plus, with fiber-optic, there is less chance of your computer sustaining lightening-related damage.

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Round two: Availability

Best High-Speed Internet Providers

Cable is notoriously accessible. In fact, its availability is one of its greatest advantages over fiber. If your business can receive cable television, it can most likely access cable internet. While cable is widely available, it still isn’t available in some rural locations. If your office doesn’t have access to cable television, you won’t have access to cable internet either.

Fiber-optic internet isn’t offered in as many markets as cable, but its availability is expanding. However, because fiber requires the installation of new cable, it will take some time before it reaches as many markets as cable has and those located in rural areas may be the last to be serviced.

Round three: Speed

Cable internet speeds can accommodate the needs of most small businesses. Download cable speeds generally range from 20 to 300 megabits per second (Mbps), and upload cable speeds of 7 to 20 Mbps are common.

Latency (delays incurred during data processing) of 100 milliseconds (ms) is typical, but latency can range from 25 to 500 ms. It’s important to realize that with cable internet you share bandwidth speed with your neighbors, so the more customers using cable at once, the slower the internet speed is for everyone. This means that download speed can slow significantly during high-traffic times. All in all, cable internet remains a solid choice for heavy downloading, gaming, and streaming video.

Best cable internet providers
ProviderAdvertised download speedsStarting monthly priceLearn More
AT&T Small Business25–50 Mbps$40View Plans
Verizon Fios Business1–15 Mbps$40View Plans
CenturyLink Business10–100 Mbps$40View Plans
Frontier Business7–20 Mbps$20View Plans

Cable has a reputation of being fast, but fiber internet speeds are amazingly fast and blow other high-speed internet options out of the water. Plus, fiber allows the user to send data over much greater distances while maintaining speed. Download fiber-optic speeds range from 150 Mbps up to 500 Mbps, and upload speeds range from 65 Mbps to 100 Mbps. These unmatched fiber-optic speeds allow every member of your team to download, upload, stream, and share files simultaneously without compromising performance.

Best fiber internet plans for business
ProductDownload speedsStarting monthly priceLearn more
Verizon75–940 Mbps$84.99View Plans
AT&T25–1000 Mbps$60View Plans
Comcast25–500 Mbps$69.95View Plans
Frontier15–150 Mbps$19.99View Plans

Final round: Price

The cost of cable internet varies depending on your location, and whether or not you choose to bundle televisions, internet, and phone services. Generally, cable internet is an affordable business solution that ranges from $25 to $100 per month.

Keep in mind that you’ll usually pay more for faster speeds, and you may be charged an installation fee.

Fiber-optic internet will probably cost your business more per month, but depending on how your business uses the internet, the speed could be worth it. Plans for Fiber usually start at about $100 per month but can exceed $300 per month, depending on where your business is located, the speed you want, and the length of your service contract (most providers will require a two-year commitment). You may have to pay an installation fee or activation fee, but some companies offer promotions that waive this fee.

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The takeaway

Every business owner is looking for the fastest, most reliable high-speed internet option at a budget-friendly price.  If available in the area, we recommend small businesses choose fiber internet vs. cable. When you consider your options, be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. In addition to making note of download and upload speeds, ask about possible installation fees and thoroughly read over the service contract.

  • Kenneth Duncan

    This must be old. I can get up to 2 Gbps speed with cable in my area. My community is older so we have no access to fiber. Our only 2 real options are Comcast or At&t and with at&t I can only get 50 Mbps which is rare, the average speed for At&t is actually 30-35 Mbps compared to about 250Mbps on cable for the same price lol. Cable does slow down during peak hours, but lowest I have seen it go down is to about 150Mbps to 180Mbps. Which is still more than 3 times the competition. Right now I can subscribe to any speed up to 450Mbps right over the internet with cable. If I want faster speed(up to 2Gbps), I would need a pro insulation which cost about $500. But at least the option is available. I feel we need to make the internet service provider monopoly illegal so we can promote competition. The current system we have is nothing but crony competition. We should require the city to build out the lines and then make internet service provider rent thenlines based on current market values, no 1000 year contracts and each internet service provider can only rent one line of access. Make it illegal to rent multiple lines under different names also. We should setup at least 5 options in each home. I bet you will see gigabit speeds with no data caps.

  • Michael Jones

    Some internet providers may advertise fast internet speeds, but do they truly deliver them? Many providers aren’t upfront about the limitations of their internet plans and out-dated networks. Sneaky marketing tactics hide the fact that they can’t actually deliver the speed their customer is paying for. Often, the “fast” speeds they advertise are only available for downloads, but not uploads. Reading the fine print of their contracts will reveal that your upload speeds are capped at 5-10% of their advertised download speeds.

    Check few of the providers like At&t, spectrum and Aura Fiber internet – who offers same upload/download speed upto 1000mbps

  • Amy Winters

    Thanks for pointing out that cable internet is more widely available than fiber optic internet. My brother recently started a business, and right now he’s considering his options for providing internet to his office. It’s in kind of a remote area, so I’m glad to know that cable internet should be available to him!

  • Anna Jhonson

    I used to be an advocate for cable internet options in the past but in the last couple of months, my entire perception changed. This was partly because I had to move a few blocks from my current residence, which provided an opportunity to try something new. Giving fiber internet a try was more than enough to make me change my mind. The switch to AT&T fiber has been very rewarding indeed. I was able to find something of this calibre through a particular website I hope some of you might be able to benefit from this as well. But mind you, once you get a taste of a fiber connection, you will never settle for anything less!!!