The technical difference between fiber and cable internet is the type of cables used to provide homes with an internet connection. Find out how these cables differ and why that matters when it comes to speed, reliability, availability and pricing. 

What is fiber and cable internet? 

Fiber

Fiber internet, also known as fiber optic, is a type of broadband connection that uses fiber optic cables to transmit data through light signals. Fiber optic is a newer type of technology, compared to cable internet, which is one of the reasons it is not as widely available. 

If fiber is available to you, however, it is likely your best option, as fiber optic is known for being a faster and more reliable form of internet, compared to cable, DSL or satellite internet. The main selling point of fiber internet is that speeds can reach up to 2,000 Mbps and the fiber optic cables are less susceptible to weather conditions than traditional cables. 

Cable

Cable internet is a type of broadband connection that uses copper coaxial cable lines to transmit data through radio frequency signals. Cable internet uses the same coaxial cable line that cable TV uses, which is why most cable internet providers offer internet and TV bundle deals. 

Cable internet is a widely available type of internet service. It is much more available than fiber internet because the cables are much easier to install. Although cable internet tends not to provide as fast internet as fiber, it is still a superior option compared to DSL or satellite internet. 

Fiber vs. cable quick comparison

FiberCable
Price range$24.99 – $299.99/mo.$20.00 – $109.99/mo.
Download speeds25 to 2,000 Mbps10 to 1,000 Mbps
Upload speeds10 to 1,000 Mbps3 to 30 Mbps
Nationwide availability41%81%

Fiber vs. cable speed comparison 

Download speeds: Although both fiber and cable internet will provide the speed you need for streaming, work from home, gaming and more, fiber internet can reach higher max speeds (2,000 Mbps) and tends to offer a cheaper cost/Mbps than cable. 

Upload speeds: When it comes to upload speeds, fiber internet is the clear winner. All fiber internet providers have near-symmetrical upload and download speeds. In contrast, cable internet providers will supply significantly slower upload speeds than their download speeds 

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