Cable vs. Fiber-Optic: Which 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.

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.

How Cable and Fiber Internet Work

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

The process of installing fiber-optic Internet is usually more intrusive and takes a bit longer than cable. That’s because unlike cable which uses your business’ existing cable line, fiber-optic Internet requires that a fiber optic cable be run to your business. Fiber Internet (FiOS) is carried by a strand of lightweight, thin, optic fiber via modulated light. As thin as a human hair, these strands of optically pure glass can carry digital information over impressively long distances. Just like cable, FiOS is usually installed by a professional. However some providers offer a self-installation option. You should be aware that should you choose to self-install FiOS, you may not be covered by the provider’s service contract.

Round One: Reliability

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Cable Internet is 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 is generally considered as reliable as cable. FiOS 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.

Round Two: Availability

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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 FiOS 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

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Cable Internet offers speeds that can accommodate the needs of most small businesses. Cable offers download speeds that  generally range from 20 to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) but some cable Internet providers are now offering download speeds of up to 107 Mbps. Upload speeds of 1.5 to 5 Mbps are common.

Latency (delays incurred during the processing data) of 100 milliseconds (ms) are 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.

Cable has a reputation as being fast, but Fiber Optic cable internet speed is amazingly fast. Plus, FiOS allows the user to send data over much greater distances while maintaining speed. Fiber-optic Internet offers download speeds ranging from 150 Mbps up to 500 Mbps, and upload speeds from 65 Mbps to 100 Mbps. The unmatched speed of FiOS allows every member of your team to download, upload, stream and share files simultaneously without compromising performance.

Final Round: Price

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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 $25.00 to $100.00 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 FiOS usually start at about $100.00 per month, but can exceed $300.00 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.

Every business owner is looking for the fastest, most reliable Internet option at a budget friendly price. 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.