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DSL vs Cable vs Fiber Optic Internet: What’s Your Best Option?

/ Categories: Blogs, Fiber Internet
DSL vs Cable vs Fiber Optic Internet: What’s Your Best Option? 1163

We're going to review three different types of internet plans: DSL, cable, and fiber. They each have many advantages, disadvantages, and limitations. We'll cover all bases and discuss each internet type when comparing DSL vs cable vs fiber.

The best option comes down to your location, availability, and your needs. So let's find out what works best for your home or business.

What is DSL internet?

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is an affordable and popular way to connect to the internet. It connects your household to the internet using an Ethernet cable or WiFi. Then, the internet gets delivered using a copper telephone line, the same infrastructure used by landline services. DSL is commonly used in rural areas due to its cheap technology and accessibility.

The old dial-up during the early days of the internet used to disrupt the phone service, but DSL doesn't. However, the further away you are from the DSL switching station, the slower the internet becomes.

It's important to know that there are three types of DSL:

  • ADSL (asymmetric DSL): Has fast download speeds but slow upload speeds.
  • SDSL (symmetric DSL): Download and upload speeds are evenly distributed.
  • VDSL (very-high-speed DSL): Has fast download and upload speeds, reaching up to 100 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.

What is cable internet?

Cable is the most common type of high-speed internet. It gets delivered using the same infrastructure used by cable TV. Cable internet is best suited for people who want to hire a cable TV service and bundle it with internet on a single bill. 

Cable internet and DSL have considerably different infrastructures. DSL uses phone lines to connect to the internet. Meanwhile, cable internet uses coaxial cables connected to a modem, which then connects to a cable modem termination system (CMTS) from your internet provider.

What is fiber optic internet?

Fiber optic internet is the gold standard when it comes to internet connections. Fiber internet has superior stability and faster speeds than both DSL and cable. 

Fiber delivers the internet through fiber optic cables. The cables use light signals to transmit data over long distances at ultra-fast speeds. The extreme speeds for both upload and download make fiber the best choice for commercial and residential use.

First, to connect to the internet using fiber, you need a small box called an Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which works similarly to a modem. When you buy a fiber plan, a technician will wire the ONT to an equipment box and the ONT to a router. After that, you can connect your devices to the internet and take advantage of all the benefits of fiber internet.

Currently, the only downside to fiber internet is its availability. Because fiber is still a new and innovative technology, it's still unavailable in many areas.

If fiber isn't available in your location at the moment, don't worry. Fidium is working hard to expand our network every day. You can visit our website to check for fiber availability at any time.

What’s the difference between fiber and DSL?

Many things set fiber and DSL apart, but the main differences are speed and reliability. While DSL is widely available due to being an older technology, fiber is more stable and much faster.

Fiber can reach considerably higher speeds than DSL. That's because DSL is limited to copper wire, while fiber internet uses glass strands in its cable. Fiber transmits data using light signals through its cable, which can travel at the speed of light, allowing users to reach extremely high download and upload speeds.

A great way to visualize the differences between DSL and fiber speeds is by comparing the time it takes to download a TV show. For instance, DSL internet can take a couple of hours to complete the download, but fiber would only take a few minutes.

DSL can be a great option on a tight budget since internet plans have lower starting prices than fiber. However, the lower prices come at the cost of slower speeds and inferior stability. So if you're looking for a reliable connection for work or study, DSL might not be the best option compared to fiber.

What’s the difference between fiber and cable?

Fiber and cable are the most popular types of internet connections. Both offer high-speed internet, but there are some considerable differences before choosing one over the other.

Fiber is often much faster than cable. It offers resilient infrastructure, superior reliability, and same upload and download speeds. On the other hand, cable internet generally has high download speeds but slow upload speeds. So if you're using cable internet to stream, upload large files, or for video conferences, cable internet is slower and less reliable than fiber.

If we look at the FCC statistics, we can see that cable has greater national coverage, with around 88% coverage compared to 14% for fiber. But fiber is quickly expanding in more areas of the US. Click here to check whether Fidium offers fiber internet service in your area.

Which is the best internet option: DSL, cable, or fiber?

While fiber can be superior in many ways to cable and DSL, it comes with a few downsides worth considering. Because of that, it's difficult to say which option is better for you without considering many factors like price, reliability, speed, and availability. So let's explore the main things to consider when purchasing an internet plan.


DSL is generally the cheapest option. Most cable internet plans come bundled with TV plans, which can considerably raise the price if you don't watch much TV.

Fiber is the most cost-efficient option at higher speeds. And in some cases, they can even be cheaper than the alternatives.


Fiber is the most reliable internet connection out of the three options. Since fiber uses a different technology with light signals to transfer data, it's reliable even during power outages. (Though your device itself will need a battery or other power source to access the internet.)

Also, DSL and cable are susceptible to slowdowns if many people are using them at once in a region.


Fiber internet outperforms all other options when it comes to speed. For home internet service, Fidium offers both upload and download speeds of up to 2 Gigs, compared to cable's 1 Gig and DSL's 100 Mbps. Unlike DSL and cable, fiber internet gives you the same high speeds for uploads as you get for downloads.

The lightning-fast speed of fiber allows users to stream without buffering, upload large files, and download movies in an instant.


DSL and cable have higher availability than fiber across most regions of the US. Since they are an older technology, they have a head start in their infrastructure.

Fiber internet is a new technology that is still in the process of expanding its coverage throughout the US, so its availability is quite limited. But Fidium Fiber is constantly expanding coverage in California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont to ensure everyone can connect to the internet using fiber.

Fiber optic internet is the fastest option out there

Though fiber internet is still in the process of fully expanding throughout North America, it's still the fastest and most reliable out of all the options. And since Fidium is working hard to expand our coverage, it's only a matter of time before you can upgrade your plans.

Looking for faster internet speeds? Click here to check for availability in your area.