Fiber Optic vs. DSL Internet: How they work plus pros and cons
Every modern home is equipped with a computer and it is mandatory for it to be connected to the internet. No matter whether you want to keep the kids entertained, follow the news, watch movies or get some work done outside office hours, you will need a home internet connection. Consider the main types of connections available and use some practical advice on how to make the right choice.
When shopping Internet options for your home or business, you’ve likely come across a few network types. The most common are fiber optics, cable, DSL and satellite. Each network type is different in the way they transfer data, and each offer their own unique advantages.
This article will explain the differences between fiber optic Internet and DSL, as well as highlight the pros and cons of both connection types.
What is fiber-optics?
Fiber optic Internet is an Internet connection that transfers data fully or partially via fiber optic cables. “Fiber” refers to
the thin glass wires inside the larger protective cable. “Optic” refers to the way the type of data transferred – light signals.
So, an Internet connection using fiber optic cables is an Internet connection in which data is delivered in light signals via small, flexible glass wires.
Think about the speed of light. Your fiber-optic connection won’t deliver data quite that fast because the signal bounces around the wire many times on the way to its destination, but it is still very fast.
What is DSL?
DSL is an Internet connection delivered via telephone lines. The abbreviation stands for “Direct Subscriber Line.”
Remember the good ol’ days when Internet via the phone line created the lovely dial-up tones and held the phone line hostage the entire time you were connected? DSL separates Internet frequencies from your telephone, enabling users to be online and use the phone simultaneously.
Telephone lines are made mostly of copper. While copper is an ideal conductor, data cannot travel as quickly via telephone lines as it can with fiber optic systems, which leads us to the pros and cons of the two.
Pros and cons: Speed and reliability
You can probably guess that fiber-optics wins on speed, but by how much? A pretty large margin, actually. Fiber optic networks can deliver speeds up to 1 Gpbs(1000 Mbps), whereas DSL speeds typically top out around 6 Mbps. For more on Mbps and what that means, check out this FAQ article on Mbps. Even without knowing much about Mbps and how they reflect Internet speeds, it’s easy to see fiber optics can be much, much faster.
The speeds that fiber optics can deliver are ideal for virtually anything you do online, including:
- Downloading music and videos
- Streaming TV and movies
- Playing real-time multiplayer games online
- Connecting many devices, such as computers, mobile devices, smart TVs, at once