Even IT professionals have questions when choosing copper wiring versus fiber optics when it comes to selecting an Internet provider. Most of the information available online is biased: either it is published by an Internet service provider which as a vested interest in which you choose, or it’s published by someone with a vendetta against a particular service. Here’s the lowdown on copper versus fiber optics in terms of Internet service options.
Copper Wiring: The Pros and Cons
Image via Flickr by Kenny Huston 21
The number one reason to choose copper over fiber is price. Twenty years ago, several phone and cable companies looked into the future and saw the potential for sturdy, lightweight, durable fiber optic cables, and began investing millions of dollars into laying fiber cables all over the nation. As a result, fiber service was much more expensive than the cheaper copper cables.
However, these cheaper copper wires have cons that aren’t always worth the cost savings. For example, a copper wire only holds bandwidth over about two kilometers, compared with the 200 meters fiber cables are capable of handling. Furthermore, copper wires are kept in boxes on the ground or on poles where they’re frequently opened and exposed to the elements as linemen make repairs to phone lines. Copper is susceptible to bad weather, electrical pulses, and magnetic forces that fiber cables can withstand easily.
Fiber Optics: The Pros and Cons
The number one disadvantage to fiber cables is price. Though the cost of these services has steadily declined over the past two decades, companies are still recouping the costs of past, current, and future fiber optic cable installations. So, it’s still a more expensive alternative than copper.
Still, for businesses in need of extremely fast, highly reliable, dependably secure Internet services, the price is worth the advantages. Fiber maintains full bandwidth over a distance of 200 kilometers, the wiring is sturdy, durable, and reliable, it provides generous bandwidth and high speeds, is very secure, and is capable of handling the demands of intense, mission critical uses.
Making a Decision Between Copper and Fiber
So, what does all this boil down to? When choosing between fiber Internet options and copper wiring, most home and personal users find it difficult to justify the costs associated with fiber optic cable services. The exceptions are people who telecommute or work from home, small business owners, serious gamers, and people who engage in heavy bandwidth applications such as video and music streaming.
For business users, the choice is clear. In today’s online world, businesses simply can’t remain competitive with unreliable, less secure, slower copper cables. Companies and organizations simply must have the dependability and reliability that only fiber can offer. As fiber cables continue to become more affordable, home and personal users are likely to follow suit. In another decade or two, fiber might well replace slower, less reliable copper cables for Internet service entirely.
The bottom line when selecting between copper and fiber technologies is price. If you can justify the higher cost of fiber cables, it pays off in terms of reliable service, fast speeds, and greater security.
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