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.
Best Fiber
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • Most reliable speeds
  • Superior customer satisfaction
Best Cable
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • Best customer service
  • High download speeds

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
Price
$300.00
/mo
$40.01
/mo
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 optionIcon Check  DarkIcon Check  Dark
24/7 technical supportIcon Check  DarkIcon No  Dark
Free installationIcon No  DarkIcon No  Dark
Get started

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.

Info
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.

Round two: Availability

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.

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.

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 High-Speed Internet Providers for Small Businesses
Verizon Fios
Best overall
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Frontier Business
Cheapest business internet
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
AT&T Small Business
Best for pure speed
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Comcast Business
Most reliable
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Viasat Business
Most rural-friendly
3 out of 5 stars
3.0
Learn more about our top brands.
Not sure which option will help you grow?

Transform your business with a free assessment, and get a tailored recommendation for services that will drive better results.

Best cable internet providers

Provider
Advertised download speeds
Starting monthly price
Learn More

AT&T Small Business

25–50 Mbps

$50.00

Verizon Fios Business

1–15 Mbps

$40.00

CenturyLink Business

10–100 Mbps

$40.00

Frontier Business

7–20 Mbps

$20.00

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

Product
Download speeds
Starting monthly price
Learn more

Verizon

75–940 Mbps

$84.99

AT&T

25–1000 Mbps

$50.00

Comcast

25–500 Mbps

$69.95

Frontier

15–150 Mbps

$19.99

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.

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.

Micah Pratt
Written by
Micah Pratt
In her seven years working in digital marketing, Micah Pratt has worked with several start-up websites providing SEO, content strategy, and content marketing support. Currently in her role as the online marketing manager for Business.org, Micah focuses mainly on helping small business owners make financially smart business decisions.
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