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What is fiber internet?

Fiber internet uses light pulses to transfer data over a very fine and flexible glass wire. While DSL internet and cable internet are fast, fiber-optic internet is much faster — up to 25x faster. Fiber internet transmits data so fast because light signals transfer data more efficiently than traditional DSL or copper cable.

FTTN vs FTTH connections

All fiber-optic internet connections are not the same. FTTN, or fiber to the node, connections use fiber cables to carry data to a hub close to your home. From this point, DSL or coaxial cables may carry the data the rest of the way. Fiber internet providers may connect multiple homes in your neighborhood to the same node. Consequently, peak usage time and distance from the node can slow internet speeds.

FTTH, or fiber to the home, connections mean the fiber cables are connected directly to your home. No DSL or coaxial cables are required and shared bandwidth is reduced, resulting in a more reliable, faster connection.

Who offers fiber internet across the U.S.?

Homeowners and renters have growing fiber-optic internet options. If available, you may be able to choose a fiber internet plan from one of the providers below.

According to Statista estimates, close to 14.7 million U.S. households used a fiber-optic connection in 2018. As providers expand their fiber internet networks, more and more people will be able to enjoy high-speed fiber options.

Most fiber internet providers offer a range of speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. By using tiny strands of glass instead of copper line connections, fiber internet can give you some of the fastest internet speeds, high service reliability and allow your family to enjoy online entertainment on more devices.

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Fiber internet providers in your area

ProviderStarting price*Speeds up toLearn more
AT&T logo
AT&T
$40/mo.1,000 MbpsAT&T internet
CenturyLink Logo
CenturyLink
$65/mo.12 - 1,000 MbpsCenturyLink internet
Cox Communications
Cox
$119.99/mo.1,000 MbpsCox internet
Frontier
Frontier FiOS
$29.99/mo.1,000 MbpsFrontier internet
mediacom logoMediacom$119.99/mo.1,000 MbpsMediacom internet
Suddenlink LogoSuddenlink$84.99/mo.1,000 MbpsSuddenlink internet
Verizon Fios Logo
Verizon Fios
$39.99/mo.100 - 940 MbpsVerizon internet
Windstream LogoWindstream$36/mo.1,000 MbpsWindstream internet

*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 03/25/19.

Since fiber technology is new, it’s not as readily available as other internet service options. Providers such as AT&TCenturyLink, CoxFrontier, MediacomSuddenlinkVerizon and Windstream offer a limited number of residential fiber-optic internet connections, but they continue to expand fiber service to more neighborhoods. Many other internet providers are trying to tap into this state-of-the-art internet technology, too.

AT&T offers fiber internet across select cities in California, Texas, the Midwest and most of the Southeast. AT&T continues to build its fiber internet network in the U.S., so more residents in these regions will soon have access to high-speed fiber internet. In December 2018, AT&T announced new fiber expansions will include Gainesville, FL, Waco, TX, and other cities.

CenturyLink Fiber Internet offers speeds up to 1,000 Mbps in 11 major metro areas in the U.S. CenturyLink gig speeds are available in cities such as Denver, CO, Las Vegas, NV, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Omaha, NE, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and others.

Cox Gigablast internet is available in most Cox service areas. Primary service areas include Phoenix, AZ, San Diego, CA, Lafayette and New Orleans, LA, Oklahoma City, OK, Omaha, NE, Providence, RI, and Virginia Beach, VA.

Frontier Communications offers two types of fiber internet. Frontier FiOS fiber internet is available in areas of California, Florida and Texas. Frontier Vantage Fiber is available in select cities across the Midwest, Southeast, Northeast and Northwest.

Google, one of the first fiber internet providers, has fiber-optic networks in select cities across the U.S. Right now, Google does not intend to expand fiber internet markets. You can find Google Fiber in parts of cities such as Atlanta, GA, Kansas City, KS, Austin, TX, Salt Lake City, UT, and other cities. Where available, Google Fiber plans start at $50/mo. and offer speeds ranging from 100 to 1,000 Mbps.

Suddenlink offers gigabit internet in 50 metro areas across the country, but mainly serves cities across Texas. Towns where Suddenlink fiber internet is available include Lake Charles, LA, Rocky Mount, NC Amarillo, TX, and Canyon, TX.

Verizon’s fiber TV and internet, Verizon Fios, is available in select cities across the East Coast. Verizon offers fiber across New Jersey, throughout Pennsylvania, in select cities in Virginia and in other major metro areas across the coast.

Windstream’s fiber internet, Windstream Kinetic Gig Internet, is available across 16 states. Cities and towns where Windstream fiber internet is available include Huron, MO, Avon, OH, Wake Village, TX, and others.

Is fiber-optic internet available in your area? Check availability for fiber providers in your area with Allconnect®.
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How does fiber internet compare to cable and DSL?

If you live in an area with access to fiber internet, chances are good that you also have cable and DSL internet options as well. The type of internet you choose can make a difference in available speeds and overall quality of service.

  • Speeds – Fiber-optic internet can offer download speeds up to 1,000 Mbps or higher, which is faster than most cable internet plans and significantly faster than DSL or satellite internet. Fiber-optic internet is also ideal for fast upload speeds, with up to 500 Mbps from select providers and plans.
  • Reliability – FTTH connections transfer data more efficiently than copper cables and telephone lines, giving users a reliable connection with consistent speeds. For the most part, both fiber and cable internet providers are capable of delivering actual speeds near their advertised speeds. Fiber-optic internet, however, is usually less susceptible to slower speeds during peak usage times.
  • Price – Fiber internet plans are often comparable to cable pricing, but can cost much more than DSL plans. When it comes to price per megabit, fiber internet is one of the more cost-effective internet types because of the high speeds you get.
  • Availability – Cable and DSL internet providers are currently much more widely available than fiber. According to the FCC, cable internet is available in 89% of the U.S. while DSL is available in 84% and fiber is available in only about 30%.

How fast is fiber internet compared to cable and DSL?

MediaFile sizeDSL
5 Mbps
DSL
10 Mbps
DSL/cable
30 Mbps
Cable
50 Mbps
Cable
100 Mbps
Fiber
500 Mbps
Fiber
1,000 Mbps
Webpage1 MB1 second<1 second<1 second<1 second<1 second<1 second<1 second
MP3 song3 MB5 seconds2 seconds<1 second<1 second<1 second<1 second<1 second
10 minute SD video clip500 MB14 minutes7 minutes2 minutes, 19 seconds1 minute, 23 seconds41 seconds8 seconds4 seconds
SD movie2 GB57 minutes, 15 seconds28 minutes, 37 seconds9 minutes, 32 seconds5 minutes, 43 seconds2 minutes, 51 seconds34 seconds17 seconds
HD movie12 GB5 hours, 43 minutes2 hours, 52 minutes57 minutes, 15 seconds34 minutes, 21 seconds17 minutes, 10 seconds3 minutes, 26 seconds1 minute, 43 seconds

This table is an estimate of speeds you can get with DSL, cable or fiber internet, and how long it will take to perform an online task based on file size. Actual speeds, file sizes and download times will vary, but this will give you an idea of how fast fiber internet is compared to DSL and cable internet.

Who is fiber internet good for?

Fiber internet is ideal for users who want fast, consistent internet speeds and don’t mind paying a little extra for service. Additionally, fiber internet can offer greater bandwidth than cable or DSL internet service, making it good for families or households with multiple connected devices, as well as serious gamers or those who work from home and need high upload speeds. Fiber-optic internet gives you the bandwidth to stream, game online, browse social media and more at once across multiple devices.

Though it is a great internet service type, fiber-optic internet isn’t for everyone. If you’re shopping for the cheapest internet service, fiber-optic internet likely will not offer the cheapest plans in your area. Also, if you just need an internet connection for browsing the web and streaming, you likely won’t need the faster speeds that come with fiber internet. For slower — and often cheaper — internet plans, DSL or cable may be a better option for your home.

Pros and cons of fiber internet

Fiber internet gives you a connection that’s great for streaming videos, gaming, video conferencing, uploading large files and more. Even with all of fiber internet’s perks, fiber has some disadvantages.

  • Quality: Since fiber’s main conductor is glass, it’s resistant to interference. This helps it produce a connection known for superior performance, reliability and high speeds.
  • Speed:  Fiber internet speeds can reach up to 1,000 Mbps where available.
  • Value over time: Because fiber-optic networks cost less to maintain, the price for service is expected to become more affordable over time.

  • Availability: As providers install more fiber-optic lines, fiber internet becomes available to more people. But at this time, fiber is only available in select cities and neighborhoods.
  • Initial expansion costs: Fiber networks cost more than other internet connection types to construct. It can lead to higher initial costs for providers and then customers.
  • Home installation requirements: Many homes already have phone lines or cable connections at the ready for DSL and cable connections. Since fiber technology is newer, a fiber provider may need to drill into your home to set up new lines.

Fiber internet provider customer satisfaction

Fiber internet service providers often rank higher for customer satisfaction than cable. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Verizon FiOS ranked higher than all other major internet providers in 2018 with a score of 70/100. AT&T Internet also ranked high with a score of 68/100. For comparison, most cable providers received a score of 60/100 or below.

J.D Power also ranks Verizon FiOS high, especially in the East region, giving them a 5/5 rating in every category, including performance, cost, billing and customer service. AT&T internet ranked highest in the South and North Central regions, coming in with 5/5 rankings for overall satisfaction in both.

Frequently asked questions about fiber internet

Fiber internet is available to about 30% of the U.S. population. Large metro areas are the most common service areas for fiber-optic providers, but actual availability may be limited to certain ZIP codes or neighborhoods within a city. To find out if fiber internet is available for your address, call Allconnect at .

Fiber-optic internet prices vary by provider and the plan you choose. Depending on what’s available in your area, you could get fiber-optic internet for around $40 per month. Gigabit internet plans, however, can easily cost over $100 per month for service. Check available fiber internet pricing in your area with Allconnect.

You will likely need a new modem for fiber internet service as traditional cable and DSL modems are not compatible. Fortunately, fiber internet providers either include a modem or offer one to rent or purchase with their internet plans.

No. Fiber internet uses thin glass or plastic wires to transmit data so no phone line is required. The exception is FTTN connections that use a DSL connection from the node to your home.

Fiber internet offers speeds as fast or faster than most cable connections. Fiber internet is also more likely to deliver consistent speeds, regardless of time of day or distance from the provider. Cable internet will typically give you more plan options, including low-cost internet options, because cable providers can offer speeds slower than what you’d get with fiber-optic internet.

Last updated on 03/25/19.

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