What is fiber internet and how does it compare to cable?

Put the power of fiber optic internet speed into your business to support virtually every aspect of your business

by Aaron Miller, Lead Channel Manager, AT&T Business

Does your business need fiber optic internet? It’s an excellent choice for small-to-mid-sized businesses, and we will explain why in this article. For starters, as your business grows, you need the right connectivity and speed that can scale to support growing amounts of data traffic. Fiber internet provides such scalability and can accommodate heavy data loads without requiring costly maintenance or upgrades, which is extremely helpful when you’re watching costs.

The number of internet technologies increases every year, and small businesses have more options than ever when it comes to internet connectivity. It can get confusing trying to match the right solution to your particular business needs. Connectivity solutions are not one-size-fits-all – but we’re here to help! Let’s take a look at the differences between three popular connectivity options: DSL, cable, and fiber optic internet, and you’ll see why fiber internet is most likely the best choice for your business.

What’s the difference between cable, DSL, and fiber?

The internet can travel by phone lines, coaxial cable, radio waves, and even by electrical wiring found in homes and other buildings. Most data travels between computers using physical wires: coaxial cable lines, digital subscriber lines (DSL), and fiber optic lines. Cable is sent over copper television lines, which can carry about two times more bandwidth than DSL, but DSL providers often build fiber lines closer to residences in urban areas, which can result in increasing the maximum speeds for the data.

The many types of broadband internet—which include DSL, cable modem, and fiber optic internet—each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a quick look at the differences:

  • DSL: DSL uses landline telephone lines without interrupting your phone use.
  • Cable: Cable television lines reach your business through the same coaxial cable that tv services use. It’s typically faster than DSL and is widely available, but not as fast as fiber.
  • Fiber-optic: Fiber optic cables are made of many small fibers of glass that can send data at the speed of light. Fiber optic internet speeds are the fastest available, surpassing both cable and DSL. While it is not yet available everywhere, the AT&T Business fiber footprint continues to expand and is likely to be at or near your business location already.
    • More than 625,000 U.S. business buildings are fiber lit from AT&T, enabling high-speed fiber connections to more than 2.5 million U.S. business customer locations.
    • Nationwide, more than 8.5 million business customer locations are on or within 1,000 feet of AT&T fiber. (The more than 2.5 million U.S. business customer locations are included within the 8.5+ million U.S. business customer locations on or within 1,000 feet of our fiber.)

How do you know if you’re pushing the limitations of your existing connectivity?

If you’re experiencing dropped voice calls, slow video calls, or slow-loading website or video activity, you may have exceeded your current connectivity limits and are most-likely running on cable or DSL. Because fiber internet has faster download speeds and faster upload speeds, switching to fiber optic internet can make the world of difference in your business operations. When it comes to serving your customers and keeping your business operations going, speed and reliability matter.

Fiber internet: Is it possible to harness the speed of light? Yes!

Fiber internet offers many advantages, the first being the lightning speed that makes it superior to other technologies. For example, fiber is a connection like DSL that uses telephone wire to send a signal. Fiber internet, however, passes light through fiber optic cables using cables made of glass or plastic strands that transmit light. This allows data and voice signals to travel over the cables as optical beams (rather than electrical signals) which is faster, more efficient, and more secure when compared to copper. It can transmit more information over greater distances. They are also immune to electrical interference, making them far more reliable and secure. While cable and DSL can be fast, they don’t provide high speed synchronous connections, meaning uploading and downloading, the way fiber can.

We all know that when it comes to business, speed keeps things moving. The speed of fiber allows for a broad range of online business activities necessary for growing your small business. Fiber can help you:

  • Connect with customers, business partners, suppliers, and employees without interruptions
  • Communicate high volumes of information quickly
  • Provide onsite Wi-Fi networks for employees and customers
  • Enjoy the best speeds, reliability, scalability, and value

How reliable is fiber internet?

High reliability is a standard—and vital—feature of fiber internet. DSL connections can suffer from power outages, interference from power lines, and weakness from navigating long distances from internet service facilities. Fiber is unaffected by these conditions. It uses light, not electricity, to transmit information. And because it uses dedicated fiber cables, fiber internet is highly secure and scales easily to meet your business needs.

If speed and high reliability are priorities for your small business, then you may see the benefits of your investment. If you depend on high speed and high reliability to deliver your services and support your workers, fiber internet should be at the top of your list.

Why AT&T Fiber?

Not only is AT&T Fiber the superior option for businesses, it’s also an excellent choice for customers who are working from home. Fiber is designed specifically to provide high-speed internet, even during high usage times. Plus, in 2020, AT&T Fiber was ranked #1 in customer satisfaction by ACSI, the American Customer Satisfaction Index. And AT&T Internet was ranked #1 in customer satisfaction in 2020 in the J.D. Power Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study in the South, West, and North Central Regions.

Need help choosing fiber internet, or any other service for your business?

We're here for you.

Are you a small-to-medium business wanting to better support your workforce, customers, and locations? Contact us today. We have professionals who can demystify the technology for you and get you up and running with emerging technology and other dedicated internet solutions for your business.

Our Tech Demystified series can help you decide what products and services will work best for your business. To learn more, visit AT&T Business Fiber or contact your local sales representative or explore Business Internet in your location.

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