Broadband Internet vs. Fiber Internet for Business

January  31,  2018

Businesses today increasingly rely on, and in a vast majority of cases, can’t even survive without, a fast and reliable Internet connection. Businesses need Internet not only for email and browsing, but for everything from cloud computing and file sharing, to teleconferencing and VOIP phones. With this much on the line, the type of Internet service you choose can have a profound impact on your business’ performance and productivity. Broadband refers to high-speed, always-available Internet access and comes in several different forms, such as DSL, cable and satellite.

But what’s the difference between broadband and dedicated fiber?

Technology

As previously mentioned, there are several different types of broadband, each with their own technology. DSL uses existing copper telephone wires, while cable transmits data through existing copper coaxial cable used for cable television. Satellite broadband sends data to and from a small dish outside your business to a satellite orbiting the Earth. Fiber optic Internet transmits data via light through flexible strands of glass inside an insulated casing.

In Broadband’s Corner: DSL, cable and satellite are available almost anywhere, since phone and cable networks are already widespread, and satellite can be beamed to even the most remote areas.

In Fiber’s Corner: Fiber optic technology is the newest and most cutting edge. Since data is carried though light, this inherently means that it will travel faster over greater distances.

Winner - Fiber: While broadband is more widely available right away, and fiber may take a bit longer to provision since the technology is so brand new, once past the initial setup, fiber provides a much faster connection than any of the other services (think “speed of light”).

Bandwidth

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

In Broadband’s Corner: Broadband Internet typically offers decent bandwidth, but each type has its limitations. DSL connections are distance-sensitive, so the further away you are from a switching station, the slower the connection will be. In cable connections, bandwidth is shared with other customers, potentially including residential customers, which means the connection can be significantly slower if more users are using it at the same time. Satellite bandwidth can vary depending on the line of site to the orbiting satellite.

In Fiber’s Corner: 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.

Winner - Fiber: Fiber is the clear winner. 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.

Reliability

In Broadband’s Corner: 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. Satellite service can be disrupted in extreme weather conditions.

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

Winner - Fiber: Fiber is lighter, stronger, non-flammable, and not subject to electrical interference.

Service Level Agreement

An SLA (or Service Level Agreement) is an agreement with an Internet service provider detailing the level of service expected and the penalties should that level not be achieved. AllSafe IT recommends internet service providers with an SLA of 99.999% or higher; which means the service must be up 99.999% of the time or you get compensated for the time that it is down.

In Broadband’s Corner: Most broadband Internet services will NOT have an SLA, as the connection can be affected by several factors and therefore Internet speed and uptime cannot be guaranteed.

In Fiber’s Corner: Conversely, most fiber providers DO have an SLA, as these connections are dedicated and come with higher expectations.

Winner - Fiber: The winner is any service with a 99.999% SLA, but in our experience this will be fiber.

Pricing

In Broadband’s Corner: DSL or Cable Internet is usually much cheaper, as it utilizes existing telephone or cable TV technology and infrastructure. Satellite may have high installation costs, but once installed the monthly charges are comparable to DSL and cable.

In Fiber’s Corner: 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 actually run the dedicated line to your building (keep in mind this means installation can take longer as well).

Winner - Fiber: Fiber is more expensive when you’re comparing monthly Internet service costs. However, when you look at the bigger picture and consider how much you will save in terms of productivity and uptime, the value of fiber makes it worth the spend.

Ideal Usage

In Broadband’s Corner: If you only need the Internet to send/receive emails and browse the web, broadband will work just fine.

In Fiber’s Corner: However, if your business uses the Internet for line of business applications, sharing files, streaming video (webinars), phone and teleconferencing, broadband is simply not as fast or reliable as fiber – especially during peak business hours, when you’d need it the most!

Winner - Fiber: 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!

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