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Fiber Internet Explained

What is fiber internet? Fiber internet is a higher quality business and residential internet connection that is much faster, more powerful, and the most reliable when compared to other internet connections like DSL, cable, and satellite. Fiber internet speeds can easily reach 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) and up, and this includes both download and upload speeds. Let’s compare internet connections and the speeds needed to perform everyday internet activities.

1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) = 1,000 Mbps (Megabits per second): the measurement of data transferred in seconds.

  • Cable internet offers between 25 – 300 Mbps download speeds
  • DSL internet offers between 5 – 75 Mbps download speeds
  • Satellite internet offers between 5 – 25 Mbps download speeds
  • Wireless internet offers between 5-25 Mbps download speeds
  • Fiber internet offers up to 10 Gbps download speeds
A millennial enjoying music on a tab with reliable internet connection

How much download speed do you need?

INTERNET ACTIVITY MINIMUM RECOMMENDED SPEED
Browsing and Email 1 Mbps
Social Media 1 Mbps
Gaming 3 Mbps
Streaming (Standard Definition) 3 Mbps
Streaming (High Definition) 5 Mbps
4K Streaming 25 Mbps

“Fiber transmits data at speeds far exceeding current DSL or cable modem speeds, typically by tens or even hundreds of Mbps.” - FCC

When searching for fiber internet providers, you may also find it listed as fiber-optic internet, optic fiber internet, fiber broadband, or fiber. Also keep in mind that fiber internet service is not available to customers in all areas of the country. Fiber internet service is available to more than 30% of homes in the U.S. Some cable providers, such as Cox and Xfinity, use a hybrid network of both coaxial and fiber lines to reach speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps or more.

Key Takeaways:

Types of Fiber Internet

There are various types of fiber internet available to residential customers. The fiber type available in your area will determine the speeds you can expect to receive.

FTTH

The most sought after is pure fiber - fiber to the home (FTTH), sometimes referred to as fiber to the premises (FTTP). This type will only be found in select areas. Fiber to the home delivers fiber-optic cables the entire way to customers. This type offers the top speed, reliability, and consistent internet connection.

FTTC

Fiber to the curb (FTTC) is the next best connection. This type delivers the fiber-optic cable to the curb outside your house, after which, the standard copper or coaxial cable carries the signal to your home. This is where you could see a drop in speed and reliability.

FTTN

The most common fiber internet connection is fiber to the node (FTTN). This type is often referred to as HFC or hybrid fiber coaxial network, and most often provided by cable operators. FTTN delivers fiber-optic cable to a central hub, or the node, after which copper or coaxial cables carry the data signal to the customer. This type still delivers faster speeds than standard internet connections but is still susceptible to your average drop in service.

Popular fiber internet providers of 2021

Provider Starting prices Download speeds Connection Type
AT&T $35.00/mo. and up 300 Mbps–940 Mbps Fiber
Frontier $24.99/mo. and up 50–940 Mbps Fiber, DSL
Optimum $24.95/mo. and up 10-940 Mbps Fiber, Cable
CenturyLink $49.00/mo. and up 10-940 Mbps Fiber, DSL
RCN $19.99/mo. and up 25–940 Mbps Fiber, Cable
Spectrum $49.99/mo. and up 100-940 Mbps Hybrid-Fiber Coax
Cox $29.99/mo. and up 10–1,000 Mbps Fiber, Cable

High speed internet connection represented by a lightning bolt Where to Get Fiber Optic Internet

There may be fiber internet near you. Many internet providers now offer some type of fiber optic internet. Most of these fiber providers utilize a hybrid network, mainly because it’s just too expensive to build an entire network of fiber optic cables directly to every home. The providers that offer fiber have built out part of a fiber network in certain areas. They then use their existing internet network, be it copper or coaxial cable, to carry the data to your home. This type of hybrid internet is still much faster than cable, DSL, wireless, and satellite internet.

The real question is whether or not you live in area with fiber access. Getting fiber internet service is all about where you live. If you don’t live in an area that has fiber infrastructure then you will have to rely on another type of internet access.

If you want to see fiber providers in your area, enter your ZIP code and browse a list of your fiber options.

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Popular fiber internet providers of 2021

Provider Top Speed Price Contract Wifi
Satellite TV, internet, and phone service provider AT&T logo 940 Mbps $60/mo.
for 12 mos.
No contract $10/mo.
Best tv and internet service provider in the nation Mediacom logo 940 Mbps $79.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
No contract $11.50/mo.
Top cable internet provider Spectrum logo 940 Mbps $109.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
No contract Included
High speed internet, cable tv, home security services provider Cox Communications logo 940 Mbps $99.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
No contract $9.99/mo.
Best cable television and internet company, RCN logo 940 Mbps $59.99/mo. No contract $9.95/mo.
Residential and business internet, phone and TV provider, Century Link logo 940 Mbps $65/mo. No contract $15/mo.
Best cable television and internet company, Optimum logo 940 Mbps $69.99/mo. No contract $10/mo.
Largest DSL internet provider, Frontier Communications logo 940 Mbps $64.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
No contract $10/mo.

How fast is fiber internet?

Fiber internet can reach speeds up to 10 Gbps, but most residential fiber providers offer top speeds of 1 Gbps, or 1,000 Mbps. These types of fiber download speeds make it possible for multiple users on multiple devices to effortlessly engage in high-bandwidth internet activities simultaneously. The entire family can enjoy streaming, gaming, browsing at the same time, while someone is working from home. You can do this without interference, speed drops, lags, and other traditional internet pitfalls.

Many users typically download more data (receive) than upload data (send), but for those that need faster upload speed, fiber providers symmetric upload and download speeds as opposed to the asymmetric speeds of DSL, satellite, and cable. Those connections offer higher download speeds and only fractional upload speeds. But keep in mind that when a provider says they offer symmetric speed, it’s for a wired connection.

Most users prefer the convenience of WiFi. The fiber connection speed may diminish through the use of in-home WiFi. The signal strength is simple not as strong as the wired connection delivered to your router.

Fiber internet doesn’t experience the latency issues like DSL, cable, satellite, and wireless internet. The lower latency you receive with fiber means you won’t experience a delay between your actions and the results. In terms of reactionary time, searches are quicker, loads are quicker, and gaming is quicker.

The fiber-optic threads are smaller, which means more threads can fit into the fiber cables that deliver internet. This makes fiber a more efficient internet delivery source. This

Fiber is also not affected by network congestion or other external factors. This means you won’t see a decrease in speed or bandwidth at peak hours. Fiber internet consistently faster and experiences less service interruptions than DSL, cable, and satellite connections.

Fiber is fast! Many customers will choose the speed and performance of fiber even though it can be more expensive than other internet connections.

Fiber vs Cable Internet

Speed

Fiber is faster than cable, with speeds up to 1 Gbps. Cable does however offer speeds fast enough for streaming, gaming, and browsing, it’s just not as fast as fiber. And many cable companies have improved their infrastructure and now offer a hybrid fiber optic cable internet.

Latency

Fiber optic cable is faster and more reliable than coaxial cable. Coax is more likely to receive signal interference and decreases strength with distance. Fiber does not decrease signal strength which results in quick reaction times.

Performance

Once again, because of the way both services deliver signals, fiber is more efficient at delivering more bandwidth. Cable internet is susceptible to network congestion, fiber is not. Which means you could see decreased performance at any given time with cable.

Availability

Cable internet is widely available across the U.S., while fiber is available to less than half the country. Neither is readily available in rural areas.

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Fiber Internet

Fiber internet is overall the best internet service available to residential customers, but there are a few drawbacks. However, it’s important to remember that these disadvantages are not service related.

PROS

  • Much faster internet speeds than other connections like cable, DSL, satellite, & wireless
  • Lower latency than other connections
  • Symmetric download and upload speeds
  • Most reliable connection
  • Overall, best performing internet

CONS

  • Not widely available across the U.S.
  • More expensive infrastructure maintenance
  • More expensive than other internet connections

Looking for other services?

BuyTVInternetPhone offers more than just high-speed internet. With us you can also avail yourself of the best cable TV deals and home phone service packages.

High speed internet connection represented by a lightning bolt Unleash the power of your zip code!

Last updated: Dec 31, 2020

Fiber Internet FAQs

Fiber internet is a technology that transmits data in the form of light. Optical fibers are small glass strands that are bundled together to form cables. The fiber cables carry light down the length of the cable line, transmitting the data in seconds. Unlike other internet connections, the speed of fiber does not decrease over distance. Fiber limits data interference while allowing for more data capacity. As it stands, fiber is easily the fastest internet available.

Fiber internet can reach speeds up to 10 Gbps Fiber optics: Up to 10 Gbps or 10 billion bits per second. However, this type of pure fiber is not found in residential areas yet. Right now, most fiber customers can expect to see 1 – 2 Gbps; which is still lightning fast. Compared to other internet connections: cable internet offers anywhere from 25 – 300 Mbps. DSL can offer up to 75 Mbps. And Satellite offers between 5 – 25 Mbps.

Fiber internet is not available everywhere in the U.S. You will need to check fiber availability in your area. However, while building out a fiber infrastructure is costly, more providers are expanding their fiber networks. This is good news for internet customers. In fact, there are over 200 fiber providers within the U.S.

This depends on the type of fiber that is being provided. If fiber optic infrastructure is already available in your area, then your provider will only have to install the network equipment. Fiber To The Home (FTTH) will require optical network terminal (ONT) installation. The ONT connects to your router or computer. For a Fiber hybrid network, installation is the same as any other type of internet install. It can be set up as soon as the provider can get a technician out to your home or apartment.

This will depend on the type of fiber from your provider. The modem you may have had for your cable or DSL service will most likely not be compatible for fiber internet. However, your fiber internet provider will include a compatible modem with your internet.

Gigabit internet simply refers to the speed, which is 1 gigabit per second. Fiber is the type of connection your provider is using to deliver your internet. However, fiber is the only source for a gigabit connection. If an internet provider is offering gigabit speed, that means their network is either fully or partly built with fiber optic cable.

It’s true that fiber internet is the perfect choice for homes with multiple users that enjoy surfing, streaming, gaming, and even working from home. But often overlooked, fiber increases the smart home experience. Those homes with voice assistants like Alexa, smart thermostats, lights, locks, and many other gadgets, will see improved performance. Fiber is also beneficial for homeowners with online home security features.