Broadband technology is constantly developing, and every few years a new product hits the consumer market. One of the most recent advancements is the introduction of fiber optic internet. It’s the new ultra-fast internet product available, promising lightning speeds – a revolution in internet connectivity.
However, the old-faithful option, broadband, a product that has become familiar to many and remains a standby, is still offered by providers as well. So if fiber optic internet is as life-changing as internet providers say, why do they still offer broadband?
We’ve compiled this guide to help you choose between broadband and fiber optic. As with most technology decisions, it will all come down to your specific set of circumstances. Let’s take a look at some of the major differences so you can determine which is the best choice for you.
A Difference in Hardware
If you think that the reason fiber optic internet is faster has to do with highly skilled technicians who have developed extremely advanced code to revolutionize the speed of the internet, think again. It all comes down to hardware – put simply, it’s what the cables are made of. In fact, if you’ve seen workers digging up cables near your home or workplace, there’s a good chance they were installing fiber optic hardware.
Previously, phone and internet data were transmitted via copper cables. In fact, most homes are still outfitted with copper wiring. This was originally installed for telephone transmission, a purpose for which copper is well suited. However, as the amount of data sent increased with the birth of the internet, copper started to show significant flaws. For one, copper is susceptible to electromagnetic interference, so when data travels long distances it can degrade bit by bit. Second, it simply isn’t capable of transferring data quickly enough. People’s needs have changed from a telephone conversation to a group video call to multiple countries, and copper simply isn’t cutting it anymore.
Fiber optic cables, on the other hand, are usually made from thin strands of either glass or plastic which are used due to their transparency. Fiber optic cables came to replace copper wiring for most out-of-home infrastructure in the mid-1980s. However, what remained unchanged was the last mile or so of cabling – this was still the copper wiring, and what we originally all depended on to bring internet into our homes.
Put simply, the majority of most internet is already transmitted via fiber optic cables. It’s just that last section that limits the speed of data flow due to being made out of copper.
The Right Internet for You
When it comes down to it, normal broadband internet is still sufficient for many people. If you use internet primarily for checking your email and some general browsing, there’s no real need to switch to fiber optic.
However, just as broadband has changed dramatically in recent years, so have the demands of the internet. Even social media now demands more data, with more video and interactive content than ever. What’s more, society is using video calling at an increased rate, which also means that more data will be necessary to facilitate this. If you’re someone who uses a lot of video, whether it be streaming Netflix or video chatting to colleagues in another country, fiber is your best bet.
Keep in mind that if you use Wi-Fi, you’ll also need a router capable of handling the speeds fiber can provide. With regards to video calling, you’ll only experience the benefits of fiber if the people you’re calling also have a high-speed connection.
Fiber optic internet offers excellent benefits for some, but is not necessarily right for everyone. Consider how you consume data and in what quantity to shed some light on which choice is the best for you.