Fiber Optic Internet Providers

Fiber Optic internet is one of the fastest types of internet available today, but it’s also one of the hardest internet types to find across the United States. Fiber Optic internet only has 25% coverage nationwide. Some large cities like Dallas, Texas have around 61% of coverage while other major urban centers like Chicago, have much less coverage, only around 21%. Before you decide on Fiber Optic as your preferred internet, you’ll need to research whether it’s available in your area.

Provider Max Download Speed Up To
AT&T 300–5000 Mbps View Plans
CenturyLink 1000 Mbps View Plans
Charter Spectrum 300-1000 Mbps View Plans
CenturyLink 1000 Mbps View Plans
Frontier 500–5000 Mbps View Plans
Windstream 100 Mbps or higher View Plans
Comcast 1000 Mbps View Plans
Cox 10-940 Mbps View Plans
WOW Up to 1000 Mbps View Plans
EarthLink Up to 1000 Mbps View Plans
Cable One/Sparklight Up to 100 Mbps View Plans

What is Fiber Optic internet?

Fiber Optic or Fiber internet leverages cables crafted from thin glass or plastic fibers to transfer data as light signals. Fiber optic cables are crafted to transmit data in the form of 0s and 1s (binary) via light pulses, with a transmitter at one end of the fiber. Fiber cables send the binary pulses very quickly over long distances. In fact, a single pulse can travel 60 miles before the signal starts to fade.

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How does fiber optics work?

Compared to DSL and Cable Internet, Fiber Optic networks can easily support incredibly fast speeds. With that said, it’s also one of the hardest internet types to actually find. Depending on where you live, you may have access to only certain kinds of Fiber internet connections like FTTN, FTTH, and FTTC networks.

  • FTTN, or fiber to the node: Fiber to the node connections utilize fiber optic cables to transfer data to a hub near your property. From that point, DSL or coaxial cables link to the fiber optic cables and transfer the data to its final destination. FTTN connections are sometimes called “hybrid fiber-coaxial networks” or HFC, which are the most common types available from Cable internet service providers.
  • FTTC, or fiber to the curb: Fiber to the curb connections transfer fiber-optic signals further than FTTN connections, which tend to end just before it gets to your home. FTTC still uses DSL or coaxial cables to bridge the gap, just like FTTN connections.
  • FTTH, or fiber to the home: Fiber to the home connections use fiber optic cables to transfer data all the way to your home. Another common name for this Fiber internet connection is “fiber to the premises.” Compared to both FTTN and FTTC, FTTH offers the best reliability, bandwidth, and speed consistency. This is because there are no “gaps” in the fiber optic cabling, so your internet is less likely to have trouble with any interference.

What are the pros and cons of Fiber Optic internet?

Although Fiber internet can be incredibly fast, there are some drawbacks to consider as well. According to the FCC, only around 33% of Americans have access to fiber internet connections. Besides availability, fiber internet has a few other potential issues in addition to its many positive attributes.

Advantages of Fiber Optic internet

  • Strong connection quality: Fiber optics are resistant to interference and have a low rate of bit error. Bit error rate (BER) refers to the proportion of bits that have errors in relation to the number of bits received as a whole. The lower the BER, the better connection. Fiber optics are also resistant to corrosive elements, unlike copper cabling.
  • Advanced security: Because fiber optics don’t radiate signals, there’s no way to “tap” the transmissions passing through them. Breaches are identifiable because a physical break means a total system failure in the Fiber network. Instead of needing to spread out hardware in many different places, fiber optic hardware is all in one place – so maintenance and security are significantly easier.
  • Easy scalability: Compared to other types of internet connections, fiber optic is more scalable. You can just add new fiber cabling and wavelengths can be switched on or off based on demand, making it easy to match the changing needs of a growing business. Fiber networks can even be constructed to anticipate internet needs far into the future, at least 15 to 20 years out. Or, cables can be installed later to grow the network on an as-needed basis.
  • Better cost-effectiveness over time: Copper networks can be expensive to maintain over the long term. While it’s true that Fiber internet can be costly in its upfront costs, the capacity for scalability outweighs the initial cost. Plus, as Fiber Optic becomes more popular and widespread, costs will likely decrease.

Disadvantages of Fiber Optic Internet

  • Infrastructure and technician requirements: Installing Fiber Optic networks is a big expense for internet service providers because of the need for specialized equipment and highly trained technicians.
  • High short-term cost: Although it’s true that costs are lower over the long term, the initial cost of Fiber Optic can’t be overlooked. Typically, installers need special testing materials to implement a Fiber Optic network. If there are any issues within the network, specialized equipment is often necessary to diagnose and fix the problem – which means more expensive maintenance in some cases.
  • Fiber fuse issues: If too much light hits an imperfection within the fiber, parts of the cable can be destroyed.
  • Limited to one direction: Fiber cables are limited because they can only transmit light pulses in one direction. If bidirectional communication is needed within a network, two fiber optic cables need to be laid side by side, which can be costly.

What are the best Fiber internet providers?

Some of the top internet Fiber internet providers include Fiber from Google, Verizon, and AT&T. By coverage availability, the top providers of Fiber Optic internet include Verizon Fios, EarthLink Fiber, AT&T Fiber, Frontier Communications, and CenturyLink Fiber.

Where is Fiber Optic internet available?

You can use your zip code for a list of all the providers with Fiber Optic options in your local area. In most cases, you’ll only find fiber in larger metro areas. In rural areas, you’re more likely to see Satellite, DSL, and Cable internet options instead.

Google Fiber is only available in select American cities, with no plans for expansion right now. But AT&T’s Fiber footprint is still rapidly expanding—so far, it’s available in 21 states. As old internet cabling systems age out of their usefulness, many internet service providers are switching over to Fiber Optic because of its longer-lived cabling and consistency. In the coming years, you’ll likely see expanding Fiber Optic internet network options.

Fiber Optic internet FAQs

How fast is Fiber Optic internet?

Fiber internet providers typically offer internet speeds of 1,000-2,000 Mbps. If you need a reference for that number, streaming a 4K uses just 25 Mbps. Fiber is quick enough to support several connected devices like smart devices, computers, smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, streaming devices, and anything else you can connect to it.

Fiber Optic is an incredibly fast internet connection with high bandwidth capabilities, so it’s particularly useful for home networks with lots of users or for those who work with bandwidth-heavy technology.

Can I get Fiber Optic Internet?

Because of its limited availability, you’ll have to research providers in your area to find out whether or not Fiber is offered. Big cities with a lot of existing network infrastructure are more likely to have Fiber Optic internet.

How much does Fiber internet cost?

Fiber internet cost ranges depending on the provider. You can find Fiber Optic internet providers with ranges as low as $29.99 per month to $99.99 a month.