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Long-anticipated gigabit internet speeds are finally making way to an increasing number of cities as fiber infrastructure advances and companies offer lightning-fast internet speed packages. Consequently, more Americans are expected to sign up for fiber optic internet. And when they do, they are sure to have several questions about how this latest technology works. One of those questions is probably going to be — do internet providers in my area require a router upgrade for fiber internet?

Most people are not sure if they can continue to use the same router they have been using for traditional DSL or cable internet. Let’s find out if you need a router upgrade or not to enjoy gigabit internet speeds!

Fiber Optic Technology: How It Works?

Fiber optic internet is the latest revolution in the world of broadband connections. Its cables are made of flexible fibers, plastic or glass, depending on whether data has to travel over a short or long distance.

Fiber technology delivers speeds as quick as a flash by transferring pulses of infrared light via an optical fiber cable. Not only is data transfer blazing fast, but these fibers are capable of sending multiple signals at once, which means massive amounts of data can transfer through them. This makes symmetrical upload and download speed a reality. Plus, pure fiber-optic connections deliver unlimited internet data along with super-high bandwidth. These fiber internet capabilities have completely changed the connectivity game

Because of the state-of-the-art technology, fiber optic speeds are never an issue. The highest speed for a Fiber to the Home (FTTH) connection is up to 2000 Mbps, which is offered by Xfinity in limited areas. However, 1000 Mbps is a widely available fiber-internet speed tier. You can easily access these gig speeds from popular internet providers such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream Kinetic, and Optimum, depending on the providers’ availability in your neighborhood. 

What is a Fiber-Compatible Router?

A fiber optic router is specially designed to support the smooth transmission of fiber signals. If you have a fiber optic router — it has the potential to receive all of the fiber optic speed from your provider’s network to your home network, meanwhile, a non-fiber router lacks this capability.

To find out if you really need a router upgrade for fiber internet, take a look at how other types of internet services send signals and how the process distinguishes from that of fiber technology.

How are Internet Signals Transmitted through Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)?

DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line, is the oldest broadband technology that utilizes copper phone lines to deliver internet service. These copper wires can handle more bandwidth than required for voice, making it possible to send data at a higher frequency than what is needed for the voice signal to travel.

As far as the equipment is concerned, the transmission of a DSL connection requires only 2 things at the consumer’s end:

  1. A DSL filter — also known as micro-filters — keeps the high-frequency broadband signal separate from the low-frequency voice signal. All you have to do is plug it into the jack of your phone and it will filter out all kinds of line interference that may slow down your DSL connection.
  2. A DSL modem that lets you connect your computer to the internet by converting the electromagnetic signal into digital signals.
  3. If you want a Wi-Fi connection, then you will need to invest in a wireless router to connect all your devices to the internet.

DSL internet is more advanced than dial-up and offers average speeds usually in the range of 0.5-75 Mbps. However many DSL internet service providers, like AT&T, CenturyLink, and Windstream are delivering DSL speeds as high as 100 Mbps in urban and most suburban regions in their footprint.

But if you live in rural America and want to shop for rural internet plans and packages, the same providers would offer a slower traditional version of DSL. Because the cost of an upgraded infrastructure usually exceeds the demand in rural regions.

How is Internet Data Transmitted through Cable?

Cable Internet is pretty much similar to DSL— it also uses a wired network to transfer data —but instead of utilizing copper phone lines, cable internet is delivered through coaxial cable lines. Also, most cable providers now are supplementing their existing network with fiber-optic lines as well to accommodate more data and offer higher speeds.

Just like DSL, cable broadband requires only a couple of things at the subscriber’s end:

  • A cable modem that is at least DOCSIS 3.0 compatible. It receives data from your service provider’s network and delivers it to your home.
  • A cable router to spread your modem’s direct signal into a Wi-Fi signal.

You can also combine these two pieces of equipment into a gateway. This not only occupies lesser space in your house but also makes it easy for you to self-install without waiting for the technician to come over and do the needful.

Cable internet delivers much faster speeds than DSL, satellite, or fixed wireless connections, especially when it’s a cable-fiber hybrid. The average download speed you can get from top cable providers like, Spectrum, Xfinity, Mediacom, and Cox Communications is around 25 to 1000 Mbps. Whereas the average upload speed you can access is between 5 Mbps & 50 Mbps.

However, like every other connection type, you may experience slower internet speeds with cable if there is network congestion. That’s where a pure fiber-optic connection excels where others fail. Fiber internet is a favorite among serious gamers for its extremely low latency.

So, Do you need to Upgrade Your Router to Enjoy Gigabit Internet Speeds?

As discussed above, cable and DSL internet use different technologies than fiber optic internet to deliver the internet to your address, so it is not a feasible approach to use the same router for all connection types. With that said, you can use the same router for both DSL and Cable depending on the speeds you are signing up for, the number of devices in your household, online activities, bandwidth requirement, and other factors.

On the other hand, fiber internet does not slow down due to crowded cable lines or damaged copper phone lines. As a result, it transmits data faster and farther than cable or DSL. So, investing in a fiber-compatible router is the only way to benefit from the best possible speeds. And enjoy an extraordinary smooth online experience.

To Sum It Up

There is no denying the fact that you can bring your old router device to use but you might not be able to make the most of your fiber internet service without getting a fiber-compatible router. Getting fiber optic internet service is all about where you live. Just enter your Zip Code here to check the availability of fiber providers in your area.

Or call 1-855-349-9328, and talk to a professional. They will help you choose the best providers and plans in your area based on your needs and preferences.