First, there was the computer revolution and now it is the internet revolution. Businesses small and large now use the internet for a variety of tasks, especially those firms that utilize cloud-based utilities, software and storage. Because of this, the internet connection you choose can have a major impact on productivity, employee satisfaction and most importantly—your bottom line. Many business owners don’t have the knowledge, or time to invest, to understand the differences in available services. However, a simple overview of the pros and cons of cable and fiber optic internet services can help you determine which one will work best for your particular situation.
Cable internet access is a type of broadband internet access that uses existing infrastructure to deliver high-speed internet to homes and businesses. It is very accessible, since it is often offered through a local telephone provider or cable company. In many areas, this was the first type of high-speed internet available.
Cable internet is reasonably reliable; thought experts recommend that those who require the internet to operate a business have a backup just in case. The appeal of cable internet is speed–download speeds generally range from 20 to 100 megabits per second. For small businesses, cable internet can be an affordable option, with packages that run as low as $70 per month.
Even though many small businesses will get the service they need from a cable internet package, it is important to understand the potential negatives too. With cable internet, latency can be a problem. Latency issues delays that are incurred while processing data. Additionally, with cable internet, bandwidth may be shared with others nearby—so download times may be significantly slower during times of peak usage. If instantaneous access is necessary, cable internet may not be the best option.
Fiber Optic Internet
Another option for high-speed internet is fiber optic internet. The connection is carried by modulated light through an optic fiber. These are as thin as human hair and can easily carry digital information even over long distances. While the process of installing fiber optic internet is a bit more involved, the fact that it offers commercial grade, symmetrical-type bandwidth makes it an excellent choice for the enterprise and business market.
Fiber optic internet is extraordinarily reliable. It is a passive system and as such is less likely to go down during a power outage or other situation. This can make it a very good choice for businesses that require internet to stay up and running. Additionally, it is not likely to receive interference from nearby power lines or high-voltage electrical items. When it comes to speed, fiber optic internet blows other standard choices out of the water. Down and upload speeds range from 10mgbs to 10gbps. Because the fiber optic network is installed for your use, it is dedicated and not shared with others nearby. With a symmetrical connection, downloads and uploads occur simultaneously with no reduction in speed. Finally, the SLA (service level agreement) for fiber optic internet offers truly unlimited bandwidth—with no caps or lowered speed. In addition, many providers guarantee a high level of uptime and performance.
While fiber optic internet does offer many benefits, interested parties should keep a few things in mind. First, fiber optic internet is not currently offered in as many areas as cable; however, it is expanding rapidly. Install times may be lengthy—taking between 30 and 90 days. Finally, the cost is significant. Plans start at $350 per month and may be higher depending on the location of the business, speed desired and length of the contract.
When you consider your options, remember that you get what you pay for—cable internet and fiber optic internet are completely different services so make certain you compare apples-to-apples. Fiber optic internet is ideal for business environments that access cloud data and real-time applications such as VoIP, SIP and heavy file transfer.