May 6, 2020

Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet for Business

Bones Ijeoma

CEO and co-founder

Businesses today increasingly rely on, and in a vast majority of cases, can’t even survive without, a fast and reliable Internet connection.

Most businesses survive on the same set of basic needs. The things that, if they were to suddenly become unavailable, would force a business to shut down for the day and send everyone home. These things include: a building or facility, electricity and internet. This post covers the two main types of internet service, the differences between the two, and the pros and cons of each.

Businesses rely on the Internet to run their web-based line-of-business applications, to virtually meet with their teams and clients, to share documents and collaborate in the cloud... the list goes on and on. With this much on the line, the type of internet service you choose can have a profound impact on your business’ performance and productivity.

What’s the difference between broadband and fiber?

There are two main types of internet service: Broadband and Fiber. Broadband is the standard type of high-speed, always-available internet access and comes in several different forms, most commonly DSL and cable. Fiber internet uses fiber-optic cables instead of copper wire to deliver service.

Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet: Technology

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As previously mentioned, there are several different types of broadband, each with their own technology. DSL transmits data over traditional copper telephone lines. Cable broadband transmits data through copper coaxial wire used for cable television. Both DSL and cable broadband are built on top of existing phone and cable TV networks. Since phone and cable networks are already widespread, these types of broadband internet are readily available to most of the world.

Fiber internet transmits data via pulses of light through flexible strands of glass inside an insulated casing. Since the data travels literally at the speed of light, this provides a much faster connection. However, since the technology is newer, fiber networks are not as widespread and may take longer to provision.

Overall, fiber is the newer and more robust technology, but it’s not as widely available as broadband.

Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet: Bandwidth

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Bandwidth is the rate at which data can be transferred within a specific unit of time. This is usually expressed in bits per second.

Broadband Internet typically offers decent bandwidth, but each type has its limitations. DSL connections are distance-sensitive, so the further away you are from the service provider’s switching station, the slower the connection will be. In cable connections, bandwidth is shared with other customers, potentially including residential customers. This means the connection can be significantly slower if more people are using it at the same time. DSL and cable internet is asymmetrical, so upload speeds are much slower than download speeds.

Fiber has greater bandwidth than any of the other broadband options (remember “speed of light”). Also, fiber has much longer transmission distances than in copper cable, with copper cable losing over 90% of signal strength over 100 meters while fiber loses about 3%. Fiber connections are delivered on a dedicated line, which means that the circuit is provisioned specifically for each customer rather than being shared. Unlike DSL and cable internet, fiber is usually offered with symmetrical service, which means download and upload speeds are the same.

Between broadband and fiber, fiber is the clear winner when it comes to bandwidth and speed. Not only is it inherently faster based on its technology, but it is unaffected by factors that can affect bandwidth in other types of broadband.

Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet: Reliability

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Broadband is considered to be fairly reliable. However, as previously mentioned, DSL and cable connections use electricity over copper wire to send data, making it vulnerable to interference from nearby power lines or high-voltage equipment. Internet service can also be disrupted in extreme weather conditions, such as thunderstorms.

Since fiber cables are made of glass, they are not susceptible to electrical interference and have a much lower chance of going down during a power outage. Also, fiber can withstand more extreme temperature fluctuations and can be submerged in water, making it virtually weather-proof.

Fiber is lighter, stronger, non-flammable, and much more resilient than broadband, making it the more reliable option.

Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet: Value

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DSL or cable internet is much cheaper than fiber, as it utilizes existing telephone or cable TV technology and infrastructure.

Fiber circuits tend to be more expensive since they are provisioned specifically for each customer. Also, installation fees for fiber can be higher as the ISP would need to run the dedicated line to the customer’s building (keep in mind this means installation can take longer as well). On its face, fiber is more expensive than broadband when comparing monthly Internet service costs. However, because of fiber’s speed and reliability, a business would be able to work faster and get more done. This would result in lower personnel expenses and increased revenue.

When looking at how internet costs fit into the overall budget of a business, the value of fiber makes it worth the spend.

Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet: Target Consumer

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Because of the lower cost, reasonable speeds and decent reliability, DSL and cable internet are ideal for domestic/personal use. The majority of home users only use internet for casual browsing, social media and entertainment. High internet reliability at home is nice to have, but usually not critical. If the internet goes down at home, the impact might be you have to wait a bit to watch your favorite TV show. The exception to this, of course, is for users who work remotely from home.

The target consumer for fiber internet is the corporate/business user. Businesses use the internet much more intensely than the average home user. Business internet typically must support cloud computing, line of business applications, file sharing, phone and teleconferencing, collaboration, etc. Also, reliability is a much bigger factor for businesses. If internet becomes unavailable for a business, they usually are not able to function, or only at a severely reduced capacity.

Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet: Bottom Line

If your business that relies on the Internet for productivity, communication and collaboration, AllSafe IT strongly recommends dedicated fiber optic Internet service. If you have questions or need assistance finding the right Internet service provider for your business, contact us today!