Broadband vs Fiber Optics: Comparison, Insights & Plans

Broadband vs fiber. This could be a tough decision to make, especially in times like these when the cost of installing fiber optics connection is drastically coming down as compared to a couple of years ago. Work from home has not just increased the requirement of high-speed internet in every household, it has made it a necessity for common people as well.
Last updated in: April 2022

This rise can be understood by the fact that in 2010, the average speed of the internet in India was a mere 0.8 Mbps and it had a global rank of 143 in terms of fast internet. Cut to a decade later and India has jumped quite a lot to sit at the 69th rank with an average download speed of 47 Mbps in November 2021, according to a report by Ookla. While a lot of people think of broadband and fiber as synonyms, there are quite a few differences among them. fiber-optic connection is becoming the new normal all over the country and with a decrease in demands and increases in speed, it has become the first choice for many internet users. In this Switcheroo article, you will find all the key comparisons and insights on broadband and fiber internet connections.

 

Broadband vs fiber: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to choosing an internet connection, users are now spoiled for choices as compared to just a decade earlier. High-speed internet connectivity has become a reality thanks to broadband connections. Choosing whether to get a normal broadband connection or a fiber broadband connection can depend on a lot of different factors. There are differences with that of technology, price, speed ranges, and more that we will be discussing in this article below.

Technology Difference Between Broadband and fiber

In a broadband connection, data is being transmitted through copper wires. The internet service provider uses existing telephone lines or coaxial cables to transmit data from a roadside cabinet to our homes and offices. These copper cables transmit data from one cabinet to multiple connections on a shared infrastructure. This makes the broadband connection a bit unstable as a sudden increase in traffic can lead to diminished speeds across the network.

Fiber optics broadband uses optical cables to transmit data at high speeds from the ISP to our homes. This connection can be completely private with no sharing in between. This ensures that you get the highest speeds possible without anyone else hogging on the bandwidth. Its highest speed can reach up to 10 Gbps and has the potential to get higher.
 

Speed Ranges

The speed range is an important factor when it comes to choosing the type of internet connection. There is a drastic difference between a traditional ADSL broadband speed and a fiber broadband speed. Have a look.


Speed Ranges
Internet Type Speed Range
ADSL Broadband
  • Download: 20 Mbps
  • Upload: 2 Mbps
FTTC Broadband
  • Download: 76 Mbps
  • Upload: 19 Mbps
FTTP Broadband
  • Download: 1 Gbps
  • Upload: 40 Mbps
Fiber Broadband
  • Download: 10 Gbps
  • Upload: 10 Gbps


Price Difference

Fiber optics cables are quite expensive since they are made with extreme precision to provide the best efficiency and speed of data transfer. Installing fiber optic connection hence will be a lot more expensive as compared to a broadband connection where all you have to do nowadays is buy a modem and you’re done.
 

Reliability

When it comes to reliability, both broadband and fiber optics are considered reliable in terms of connection. However, if a comparison has to be made, broadband is slightly more reliable as fiber connections can face interruptions due to local conditions or anything else.
 

Security

Hackers and phishers are more likely to try their hands on a broadband connection to get sensitive data, commit fraud, or just play a prank. This is because a shared network is more prone to outside attacks and can sometimes, ignore the signs.

Shared infrastructure and more possible points of entry mean that broadband isn’t as secure an option as a fiber leased line, which again will usually come with monitoring that can detect and deflect threats.
 

Installation Process

Several internet service providers already have the infrastructure in place for ADSL or FTTC broadband. This allows users to be up and running in just a matter of days or sometimes even on the same day itself if people near you have already opted for a connection from the same service provider.

Fiber optics connection can take a month or more to be installed if there is no existing infrastructure in place near your home. Since the fiber cables are quite costly, service providers seldom agree to a single connection as they’d have to set up the entire infrastructure from scratch.
For eg: When you get a BSNL FTTH connection, there is no cost for activation or installation charge. However, you have to pay Rs 500 as a one-time security deposit for the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) which is refundable on return of the ONT in working condition.

Mobility and Convenience

The whole world is using the internet on a daily basis and hence being connected to the internet has become a necessity now. Having a wireless internet connection that you can use while being on the go is more convenient for a number of users rather than staying connected to a wire all the time.

However, there are times when the signal strength of the wireless connection is too weak or not working. In times like these, you’d need an internet wire to connect to the internet at decent speeds.

 

Pros and Cons of Broadband and fiber

With the evolution of internet connections and speeds, they are bound to have some pros and cons in their features. Let’s have a look at the pros & cons of broadband and a fiber connection.


Pros & Cons of Broadband and Fiber
Connection Type Pros Cons
Broadband
  • 100 times faster than a dial-up connection.
  • Doesn’t suffer from data load and faces fewer failures and outages.
  • A broadband connection is available 24/7 and there are technical glitches as well.
  • Provides consistent speed even in bad weather.
  • Apart from the internet, it has a phone line that can be used for voice calls.
  • Has a monthly subscription that costs even if you don’t use the internet.
  • Speed is less than a fiber connection and service is dependent on the ISP.
  • Susceptible to hackers and unauthorized access.
  • People in remote areas can have difficulties in accessing broadband connections.
  • Since it is wireless, obstruction and bad weather can cause a weak signal.
Fiber
  • Extremely fast internet connectivity. Faster than broadband.
  • fiber optic cables result in enhanced signal reliability and reduced signal loss.
  • Can be scaled easily to accommodate higher usage.
  • Less chance of breach and much more secure than broadband.
  • Increased speed and overall communication quality make it a good long-term investment.
  • Physical damage to even one cable can be due to massive disruption.
  • The initial costs of installing fiber optics are too much as it requires specialist equipment and skilled labour.
  • Susceptible to “fiber fuse” that can destroy long lengths of cable quickly.


Switcheroo’s Opinion:


Which internet connectivity you choose depends on your end requirements. For instance, if you require internet for personal use only and don’t want to spend too much, a normal broadband connection can be enough. While if you want extremely high-speed internet that needs to be distributed among several devices without declining the performance, a fiber optic connection is the correct choice to make.

What broadband speed do I need?

How fast of an internet you need depends on your requirement, the number of people that will be using the internet, and what you aim to do with it. For a small family or an individual that will casually browse the internet, check emails, stream movies, or download some stuff, broadband can be a good choice. It is cheap, reliable and for light browsing, it absolutely perfect.

Fiber optics can provide speeds that were never heard before. That is why these are popular for offices with a large number of employees or people who require blazing fast internet like online gamers. Since a number of companies work on the cloud infrastructure and are heavily dependent on internet speeds, fiber optics becomes a no-brainer.

Here is an example of the average speed needed for utilising streaming services.


Speed requirements for streaming
Service Non HD HD Full HD
Netflix 3 Mbps 5 Mbps 25 Mbps
Amazon Prime Video 0.9 Mbps 3.5 Mbps 25 Mbps
YouTube 2.5 Mbps 4 Mbps 15 Mbps

What is bandwidth

In terms of network connectivity, bandwidth refers to the volume of information or data that can be transmitted over a connection in a given amount of time. It is measured in bits per second and can range from megabits per second (Mbps) to terabits per second (Tbps).

 

Bandwidth vs Speed? What’s the Difference

While they are often mistaken for each other, there is a distinct difference between Bandwidth and Speed. Bandwidth is the amount of information you can send or receive every second while speed refers to how fast that data can be received or downloaded.

 

What is Traditional Broadband?

Traditional broadband consists of technologies like Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) or fiber-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC). These are older methods of providing internet to the masses where copper wires were used to transmit the data. While ADSL uses the copper wires already present in our telephone lines to provide internet, FTTC uses fiber optics cable to send data from a telephone exchange to a local distribution point called a cabinet. From there, copper wires are used to send the internet to residential premises or offices.

Traditional broadband is considered best for individuals or small businesses that don’t require heavy internet usage. These connections are quite low-speed and not that stable as the internet connection can be distributed across a network of computers. If you need to access high-speed internet at all times, don’t opt for traditional broadband.

How does a Broadband Connection work?

In a broadband connection, you’re entire phone line is not hogged up for connecting to the internet. It divides the line connecting your computer and the ISP’s network into different channels. Now information can run in parallel in these channels and thus internet speeds can be higher than a dialup connection. Even a slow broadband connection of 512Kbps is nine times faster than the fastest dial-up connection.

 

Types of Broadband Connection

Let’s look at some of the most common types of broadband connections. We have listed them below.
 

Fiber-optic

In a fiber-optic connection, data is converted into light and sent through transparent glass fibers using the principle of total internal reflection (TIR). It requires specialized tools for installation and can usually cost a lot for initial set-up.
 

Wireless

A radio link between the service provider’s facility and the customer’s location makes the basis of a wireless broadband connection. This connection comes in handy in remote and sparsely populated areas where wired services would be costly to provide. Wi-Fi is a great example of a wireless broadband connection.
 

DSL

Digital Subscriber Line or DSL technology uses the existing copper wires in our telephone lines to transfer data. This is a very inefficient way of connecting to the internet and it’s speed is so low that it is seldom used nowadays. There are two kinds of DSL technologies:

  • Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
  • Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL)

 

Cable & Satellite

Cables operators also provide internet to homes by using the same coaxial cables for data transmission. Transmission speeds depend on the cable network, traffic load, and the type of cable modem used.

In satellite connection, as the name suggests, satellites orbiting around the Earth transmit data to and fro the consumer.
 

What is Required for a Broadband Connection

For installing a Broadband connection, you need to first subscribe to a service or plan provided by your telecommunications provider. Once you’ve subscribed to the service, here is what you’ll need for setting up the complete broadband connection.

  1. Internet modem or router
  2. A Power adapter
  3. Internet Cable
  4. Telephone Cable
  5. Phone Filters
  6. ADSL Splitter

For a fiber broadband connection, a fiber optic modem and the wireless router is needed along with a fiber optic cable infrastructure. While the modem and wireless router you can purchase by yourself, the cable infrastructure is in the hands of your service provider.

 

Does Broadband come Through a Phone Line

A broadband connection can come in four different forms: DSL, fiber Optic, Cable, and Wireless. In a DSL connection, unused telephone wires are used to transmit data from one end to the other. So yes, broadband does come through a phone line, depending on your connection type.

 

What is fiber optic broadband?

In fiber-optic broadband, as the name suggested, fiber optic cables are used to transmit data from the service provider to our homes and offices directly. Since optical cables use light as a medium to transmit the data, it provides extremely fast speeds that are very stable as the connection is not shared with anyone else.

Fiber optic cables are best suited for medium to large businesses, colleges, MNCs, and even households that have multiple devices connected to the internet at any given point of time. One of its best qualities is that the fiber optics broadband connection offers speeds of 10 Gbps for both downloads and uploads making it great for bigger offices, streaming games, working remotely, and more.

 

How Does fiber Broadband Work?

Fiber broadband is a high-speed broadband connection. It uses fiber optic cables that can transfer data at the speed of light. In fiber optic cables, data is converted into light and transmitted through thin hair-like cables following the principle of total internal reflection. There is very little loss in this method and the speed of transmission is high as well.

 

How Fast is fiber Broadband

At present, fiber broadband is the fastest way to connect to the internet. As compared to DSL or cable broadband, fiber broadband can provide speeds up to 1 Gbps as well. This is in no way the highest speed or the limit of this technology. Some providers are already providing higher speeds touching the range of 10 Gbps in some countries.
 

How is fiber Optic Internet Installed

In order to get fiber-optic broadband installed in your home, you need to subscribe to a service and schedule the installation. fiber optics requires completely different infrastructure and it is better if you let a professional do the installation.

When the appointment comes, the technician will install an optical network terminal or ONT which is a small utility box placed either inside or outside of the house. The tech will then connect the ONT to a nearby equipment box using a fiber cable. This will bring the high-speed fiber-optic connection from the service provider to your home. A router is then linked with the terminal box through an ethernet connection and you can start browsing the internet.
 

How to Find Out if fiber Optic Internet is Available in your Area?

Contact different internet service providers and telecommunication vendors in your area to find out whether they’ve laid a fiber optic line around your house and will they be able to provide you with a new fiber connection.

Here is an example of finding the availability for a Jio Fiber connection:

  1. The first step is to visit the official website of Jio Fiber Broadband Service which can be accessed at the link here.
  2. Once you are on the website, enter your name and your contact number.
  3. Click on the ‘Generate OTP’ option.
  4. You will receive an OTP on the contact number provided. Enter the OTP
  5. Next, you will be asked to fill out some more details about your region.
  6. If the service is available in your region, the website will display all the relevant details.
  7. In case the service is not available at the moment, you will receive a notification from the company once the service is available.

 

What are the Benefits of Having a fiber Broadband

The biggest advantage of having a fiber broadband connection is its high speed. If you live in a high-bandwidth home with multiple devices connected to the internet and you are streaming videos and movies online, playing games, sending or receiving large data files, or something else, a fiber optic connection is the best choice to have.

Fiber optic cables are installed underground so unless any physical damage happens to them, the internet connection and speed won’t be affected by weather at all.

 

What is FTTH (fiber to the Home)

Fiber to the home or FTTH is a new and fast-growing method of providing high-speed internet to consumers and businesses. In this method, optical fibers are installed from the operator’s equipment directly to a home or business. It improves the bandwidth a user can receive and provides more robust, internet, voice, and video services.

 

What is Dark fiber

While building a fiber-optic network, the biggest cost comes in digging the ground to bury the cable. This is an expensive process and to save money for digging in the future, telecom companies can place some extra optic cables for an increase in demand later on. These fibers are called “Dark fiber” as they are present but don’t carry any data. fibers that are working and transmitting data are known as “lit fiber”.

 

What to choose? broadband or fiber?

Whether you should opt for internet provided by your cable operator, a DSL connection or a fiber optic connection depends on a number of factors.

  • How much you are willing to pay?
  • How many devices will be connected to the internet?
  • What speeds do you want?
  • How is the existing infrastructure around you?

These factors will decide if you should go for a broadband connection or a fiber connection. Dividing your requirements into these categories can help you decide on the type of connection.
 

Light Use

If you are a small business consisting of less than 10 people and need internet for trivial stuff like writing emails, taking down orders and stuff, a DSL connection could be sufficient and budget-friendly as well.

Medium Use

Apart from responding to emails, if you have to download files, upload them on the cloud, stream movies and do things that require a fair bit of internet speed, you can go for a cable internet connection that uses coaxial telephone lines and is faster than a DSL connection.

Heavy Use

If most of the stuff you do happens online and there are multiple users connected to the same network at once, a fiber-optic connection is the best choice. It provides uninterrupted internet to your premises or office and has speeds around 10 Gbps which is sufficient for a large group of people to work simultaneously without any latency or connection issues.

 

Best broadband and fiber internet service provider in India

The Indian internet market is going through a golden stage when there are several different vendors competing with each other to provide the fastest and most affordable internet connection to users. Both private and public companies are present in this market and the result of which, internet connectivity is reaching even the farthest corners of the country. Some of the most prominent vendors and their offerings are:

  • Airtel: Airtel Xstream fiber with plans ranging from ₹499 to ₹999 depending on the speed.
  • Reliance: Reliance Jio fiber with plans ranging from ₹399 to ₹1,499 depending on the speeds opted for.
  • BSNL: BSNL fiber with plans ranging from ₹449 to ₹1,499.
  • Tata Sky: Tata Sky Broadband with plans ranging from ₹699 to ₹1,200.

 

Which fiber Network is the Best in India?

With the availability of several internet service providers in India offering fiber broadband, it can be difficult in deciding which one is the best. Getting a broadband service depends on what is your budget and your internet requirement. Some of the best companies providing fiber internet connection in India are Airtel, Reliance Jio, BSNL, and Tata Sky.

 

What are the top 3 cheapest fiber plans available?


Cheapest fiber plans
Company Plan Features Price
JioFiber 30Mbps with unlimited calling ₹399
BSNL Bharat fiber 30Mbps till 3.3 TB ₹ 449
Airtel XStream fiber 40Mbps with unlimited calling ₹499


Traditional Broadband Plans Available in India

While almost every ISP has moved to fiber broadband and discontinued their ADSL plans, BSNL still offers DSL broadband connection starting from ₹299 for a 10Mbps speed limit. The speed will be reduced after 100GB usage and you’ll surf the internet at 2Mbps speed. This plan can go as high as ₹1,299 for a 1600GB capacity maxed out at 10Mbps.

💡 Takeaway:
In the case of broadband vs fiber, fiber connection trumps out in terms of speed, the number of connections, low latency, and stability. With the world becoming increasingly digital and with the advancement in technology like 5G, having high-speed internet has become a normal sight and it won’t be long when 10 Gbps would also be considered a “slow” connection. If your aim is to get the most out of the internet and you are not too much worried about the increased cost, fiber optics broadband connection should be your choice.

 

FAQ

Can fiber have Wi-Fi connection?

Fiber optic is a distinct technology from Wi-Fi, but you can definitely use W-Fi in with the support of fiber optic technology, provided that have the necessary equipment.

Is fiber and broadband the same?

Fiber differs from standard broadband in various ways, from the technology behind it to the fast speeds and its reliability. A fiber connection tends to be more reliable, so is ideal for busy households where everyone is online at the same time using multiple devices simultaneously.

Does broadband Internet need a phone line?

The broadband connection does not necessarily require a phone line. However, some broadband connections do come with a phone connection. You can use the phone for making calls and use broadband for internet connectivity at the same time, unlike the dial-up connections that used to exist earlier.

Which is the fastest broadband service in India?

Jio is the fastest broadband network provider in India with the highest ratings in Q4 2020, according to network speed tracker Ookla's findings.

Updated on 24 Feb, 2022

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