Fiber or Coaxial

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Current and emerging technologies are requiring faster Internet connections that help users to run multimedia applications, VoIP, and other applications that cannot function properly without a high speed Internet connection.  As a result, there are many different types of Internet connections that have evolved since the initial dial-up access including fiber optic and cable Internet access. As the new IT Manager for LWDD one of the issues I am working on is evaluating our internet and network speed and considering all options for better and cheaper service.

Fiber or Cable not Fiber vs. Cable
When considering these two options the question you should be asking is what place do each of these products have in your organization. Which is better does not apply as the products are as different as apples and oranges.

With fiber you will get a dedicated switch and fiber from your ISPs node to your door. With cable you share fiber and have some length of cable from the curb to your door. For a detailed explanation of Comcast HSI (hybrid fiber-coax) network take a look at:

ATTACHMENT A: COMCAST CORPORATION DESCRIPTION OF CURRENT NETWORK MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Currently, we have 4.5 Mbit data and 1.5 Mbit VOIP over 3 T1 fiber from a major service provider in our area for which we pay $1,500. Although speed test can vary from moment to moment  here are the results of some of our tests:

TEST DOWN UP
CableTest 2.7 2.2
CharterComm 1.44 0.45
SpeedOfMe 2.58 3.79
SpeedtestNET 1.85 4.06
VerizonTest 3.15 4.23
Average 2.34 2.95

We examined a number of other fiber-to-the-door ISPs and the costs were similar:

10 Mbit Fiber $1,000/month
20Mbit Fiber $1,200/month

Comcast Business Class advertises that its network can perform at rates of up to 100 Mbit down and 20 Mbit up at a cost of about $250/month. Here are the results of the speed test:

TEST DOWN UP
CableTest 12.5 2.5
CharterComm 48.18 18.96
SpeedOfMe 4.47 15.17
SpeedtestNET 44.39 13.44
VerizonTest 105.65 21.2
Average 43.04 14.25

As we can see the variability of fiber throughput both up and down is much more stable than the hybrid fiber-coax. However, on average we still get much more bang for the buck with Comcast Business Class. Comcast service varies greatly from area to area so this solution may not work for you but at these prices it is worth taking a look.

This does not eliminate our fiber connection as we need a backup in case Comcast goes down. Many fiber ISPs offer discounts for lines used as backup. In addition we will be exploring a simple DSL solution as backup.

Juan Tobar, IT Manager