Fiber is the talk of the town right now. Fiber optic cables have much higher bandwidths than copper cables. As the average file size continues to increase, fiber remains our front-line future-proof solution.
However, fiber internet has a long way to go before it can replace cable internet. In 2023, fiber internet doesn’t offer speeds that cable inter can’t match. It does offer symmetrical bandwidth and low latency but these specs aren’t meaningful to most people. Fiber cables are also expensive, fragile, and difficult to install.
A better way to benefit from fiber technology is to get an internet connection powered by fiber. For instance, Grande Internet is using a fiber-rich network for its backbone infrastructure in Texas. Connection is provided to houses via cable, so it’s inexpensive and easy to install. Head out to Grande Internet to know more about it.
In this article, we evaluate whether fiber internet is worth it for an average house. Let’s start with a brief explainer of how fiber internet works.
How Does Fiber Internet Work?
Fiber internet uses transparent fibers instead of wires and infrared light instead of electricity to transmit data. There is no limit to how much light you can transmit through transparent glass or polymer, which means fiber can have very high bandwidths.
We know that light only travels in straight lines. For reasons that are beyond the scope of this article, optical fibers don’t change light’s direction using conventional reflection. They use a principle called total internal reflection, which only works when the cable is nearly straight.
However, computers don’t use infrared light, they need electrical signals. Ethernet-to-fiber converts are used to translate data in fiber cables into signals. If this conversion takes place at your house, it’s called FTTH or FTTP. If it happens somewhere along the ISP’s network, it’s called HFC.
FTTP vs. HFC
Fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) is a type of fiber internet where fiber cables come directly to your home or office. When people say “fiber internet,” they’re mostly referring to FTTP. FTTP provides all the benefits of fiber internet but also suffers from all of its limitations. We’ll talk more about this later on in this article.
HFC refers to hybrid fiber-coaxial networks. These networks are optimized for speed, cost, and efficiency to become the best of both worlds. HFC networks use fiber for long-distance middle-mile communications where high bandwidth is needed and cables run straight. Near the last mile, HFC networks switch to copper cables that are more flexible and cost-effective.
HFC is much more affordable than FTTP. Some providers such as Grande Communications provide speeds from 300 to 1200 Mbps through an HFC network.
Fiber internet has features superior to HFC, but many of these features are not useful for an average user. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of fiber internet.
Advantages of Fiber Internet
You typically receive more data from the internet than you send. This is why ISPs allocate more bandwidth to downloads than uploads. For instance, with a 300 Mbps cable connection, you may get an upload speed of 10 Mbps.
FTTH has a much higher data capacity than cable internet. ISPs typically offer connections with the same upload and download speeds. Even though they use this as a main selling point, most people don’t need upload speeds higher than 20 Mbps.
Fiber has a high bandwidth. When used in middle-mile communications, it can significantly lower latency. High bandwidth means less network congestion, so your data packets don’t have to wait for their turn. HFC connections such as Grande Internet also have low latency as they use fiber for their backbone infrastructure.
High Bandwidth Potential
Ethernet cables aren’t obsolete just yet. They can be used to reach speeds of up to 10 Gbps. However, copper cables will eventually be replaced by fiber which has a much higher bandwidth potential.
Disadvantages of Fiber Internet
Higher Cost Than Cable
Fiber internet can cost three to four times as much as cable internet per month. The technology is still evolving. Unless you need high upload speeds and or some other specific feature of fiber internet, it’s not worth it.
Fiber internet is only available to 43% of houses in the US. High-speed cable internet is available far more widely.
More Susceptible to Breakage
Fiber-optic cables have a bend radius that determines how much the cables can be bent. If they bent too much, they stop transmitting and can even get permanently damaged.
Difficult and Costly to Install
Fiber internet takes a lot of time and money to install. You can’t do it yourself and you need to hire a qualified professional.
Fiber is a promising technology, but most benefits are not meaningful enough to justify the cost for an average consumer in 2023. Hybrid fiber-coaxial networks offer some of the same benefits at the cost of cable internet. Contact Grande customer service to see if their fiber-powered internet is available in your area.
Meet Khurram Raheel Akbar our senior content writer. With over 10 years of experience in the field of content writing, Raheel, has established himself as an expert in creating engaging and informative content. His exceptional writing skills have enabled him to craft compelling stories that resonate with audiences across a variety of industries. Raheel’s writing style is concise, clear, and impactful, making him a go-to writer for any business looking to enhance its brand’s online presence. His dedication to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and strategies in content marketing allows him to create relevant and informative content that drives traffic and increases conversion rates. Raheel’s passion for writing is matched only by his commitment to delivering exceptional results to his clients. Whether you’re looking to revamp your website, launch a new product, or establish your brand’s voice, Raheel is the senior content writer you need to bring your vision to life.