Fiber Optic Internet is quickly becoming the preferred delivery method of internet service providers and consumers alike.
The technology offers an incredibly fast online experience.
Interested in getting on the fiber internet bandwagon?
In this review, I'll provide you with the basics of fiber optic internet, how it works, and who provides the best service.
The Best Fiber Internet Providers
Best Fiber Internet Provider: Verizon
Verizon FiOS offers amazingly affordable fiber options. Benefits of this provider include:
- Speed - With speeds ranging from 100-1000 Mbps Verizon FiOS has you covered. That's enough to cover anything from a family of four to a small business!
- No Contracts - Pay monthly with Verizon's FiOS plans.
- No Data Caps - Don't worry about fluctuating speeds after you hit your monthly cap. There are none with Verizon FiOS.
- Price - Verizon FiOS price options are competitively priced.
- Availability - Verizon FiOS is offered in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Richmond/Petersburg, Norfolk/Newport News, Boston, and Providence.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows though:
- Larger Package - If you're looking to purchase a plan of 1000 Mbps there are definitely cheaper options out there.
Verizon FiOS Internet Plans
|Verizon FiOS FiOS Internet 100 Mbps||100 Mbps||$39.99|
|Verizon FiOS FiOS Internet 300 Mbps||300 Mbps||$59.99|
|Verizon FiOS FiOS Gigabit Internet||940 Mbps||$79.99|
Best Fiber Internet Provider Bundles: AT&T U-verse
They also have more to offer:
- Bundling - Like we said you can bundle AT&T with DIRECTV. You can choose from any of their channel packages.
- Coverage - AT&T is offered in 21 states.
- Customer Service - AT&T internet has amazing customer service satisfaction ratings.
But with those perks comes a few downsides:
- Data Caps - AT&T has a data cap of 1TB. This shouldn't be a problem as long as you don't have a household of gamers.
- Price - You can find a cheaper service with some of the other fiber providers.
AT&T Internet Plans
|AT&T Internet 1000||1000 Mbps||$49.99|
Best No Contract Fiber Internet Provider: Frontier
Contracts can prove to be damning when it comes to internet/cable providers. You don't want to get stuck in a two-year contract when your promo price ends six months in.
Frontier's fiber option comes with no contracts. With Frontier you'll also get:
- Availability - Frontier covers the Pacific Northwest which a lot of other providers just don't reach.
- No Data Limits - Don't worry about your service slowing down after you use a certain amount.
- No Fees - No contracts also means no early termination fees.
Frontier does have a couple downfalls, however:
- Customer Service - Frontier has a low customer service rating.
Frontier Internet Plans
|Frontier Simply FiOS 50/50||50 Mbps||$29.99|
|Frontier Simply FiOS 500/500||500 Mbps||$39.99|
|Frontier Simply FiOS 1000/1000||1000 Mbps||$74.99|
Fiber Optic Vs Cable
Each type of fiber optic connection offers benefits and drawbacks, however, as fiber optic internet providers increase access across the nation the balance seems to be tipping in its favor. Here I'll analyze a few of the main considerations involved when choosing between coaxial cable vs fiber.
- Speed - Fiber optic internet speed is impossible to beat in the current marketplace. Even when you consider that cable can technically offer up to 100Mbps downstream, the upstream rate is still under 10Mbps. Fiber gives you equal speed both ways. This means even if you subscribe to the lowest plan available, such as the 50Mbps offering from
- Security - When you compare internet providers in terms of security, the fiber network also comes out on top over cable. Hacking into a coaxial cable internet connection is fairly easy if one is particularly knowledgeable and determined.
- Reliability - Fiber optic cable is not vulnerable to electromagnetic interference, or changes in weather. This means that a lightning strike is less likely to damage your computer if you have fiber optic internet service. This technology is also less susceptible to power outages. However, if a power outage hits your entire home, you're not going to receive power anyway for your internet connection.
What Is Fiber Optic Internet?
TechTerms defines fiber optic cable as:
This is a highly technical way of saying that tiny glass or plastic threads bundled into a protective cable can carry internet long distances by way of light pulses. Fiber optic internet is, quite literally, information traveling at the speed of light.
The fibers which facilitate this technology are roughly the diameter of a human hair (or smaller, depending upon the type of fiber). Each fiber has a core (the glass or plastic part), a cladding, and a coating.
When multiple fibers are bundled into a grouping to increase their data capacity, the coating is removed, and the entire bundle is surrounded by a protective jacket. Often, Kevlar fibers are used to add strength to the cable.
Fiber Internet Benefits
Information travels much more quickly along material with no obstacles. Optical fibers are clear, removing the barriers which can prevent data from moving at lightspeed. The cladding layer which surrounds the fiber core is there to keep the light signal from escaping. The data simply bounces off of this reflective layer back into the core where it can continue its journey to your computer.
- Its ultra-fast internet connectivity is up to 50x faster than the average high-speed internet connection (you'll receive emails from your email address in seconds).
- It's symmetrical - meaning download speeds and upload speeds are the same (you'll be able to send emails from your email address in the same amount of time you'll receive emails).
- Fiber optic cable is low-maintenance.
- It's more cost-effective than other high-speed internet connectivity types in the long term.
- Fiber loses only 5 - 10% of its signal strength over distance, as opposed to DSL which can lose up to 90%.
- It's thin and lightweight compared to copper cable.
- Optical fibers conduct light rather than electricity, reducing the risk of overheating.
- The initial install is more expensive for fiber optic internet service providers than other types. Costs to connect a home to the network fall anywhere between several hundred and $4000, according to TechCrunch.
- It's not widely available yet. According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), fiber optic internet represented 9% of the market at the end of 2014, however, those numbers are changing rapidly as internet providers continue their rollouts.
- Fiber optic internet cable is susceptible to construction and wildlife damage.
Despite its (minimal) drawbacks, fiber optic internet providers continue to march forward in their efforts to increase coverage nationwide. This is especially good news for schools and businesses, which need the phenomenal bandwidth and speed capacity afforded by this technology.
Fiber is especially crucial to schools in order to meet the FCC's guidelines of 100Mbps per 1000 users.
Since we've been hearing about fiber optic internet for several years now, the rollouts seem painfully slow. However, the good news is that it is moving along, and it is affordable.
If you're interested in finding out if fiber internet is available in your zip code checker tool to quickly and easily check for local service.
To see which providers offer fiber, and to compare their packages, check out our guide to the best Internet providers.