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Fiber Optic Internet vs. Wireless Broadband | What’s the difference?

Blue Ridge
June 20, 2023

Fiber Optic Internet vs. Wireless Broadband - What’s the difference?

The rapid development of internet technology may leave you with more questions than answers. Speed, bandwidth, symmetrical, wired or wireless... etc. Your internet connection matters, and it is our job to keep you informed on the options available to you. In this article we’ll discuss the difference between a wired and wireless connection, a fiber optic connection vs. a wireless broadband connection.

What Is a Fiber Optic Connection?

A fiber optic connection involves a physical cable that is run to a home, building, or distribution point. This cable is how data and information are delivered to you from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is the most direct way you can experience the incredible speed and symmetry of fiber optic internet.


Speed - Fiber optic cables are composed of glass fibers that use the speed of light to transmit data and information with symmetrical upload and download speeds. With the capability of providing speeds up to 10 gig and faster, fiber is built for the future. 
Reliability - Fiber optic cables are engineered to withstand electromagnetic signals and radio frequencies, resulting in a secure, nearly interference free signal. They are very sturdy and more resistant to changes in temperature and inclement weather than traditional coaxial cable. 
Unobstructed - A FTTH connection is not dependent on the customer's landscape and its signal can’t be obstructed by trees or tall buildings as the cable runs physically to the home.


Availability - Fiber optic networks are not always available in a given area as they are infrastructure dependent.
Expense - Fiber optic networks are costly to build for ISPs, but reduce overhead in the long-term.
Installation – Blue Ridge’s fiber optic connections currently need to be physically installed by a technician and must be scheduled.

What Is Wireless Home Broadband Connection?

A Wireless home broadband connection uses a radio frequency (RF) link (instead of a physical cable) between the customer’s location and the service provider’s facility to provide high speed internet. The data is wirelessly transmitted using radio waves from a transmission tower to a fixed receiver at the customer’s home.


No Cables - No physical cables are run to the home with a wireless home broadband connection. This is because the data is transmitted using radio frequencies from the service provider's facility. A fixed wireless home broadband connection does require a local receiver that needs to be installed, as well as a WiFi router. 
Expense - Wireless home broadband connections come at a low installation cost to ISPs. 
Accessible - Wireless broadband internet does not require substantial infrastructure and is becoming more available. Wireless broadband service providers are more likely to expand into rural areas.


Low Speed and High Latency - Wireless internet speeds can be much slower and have higher latency than Fiber. The actual speed is variable and not clearly advertised by Wireless ISPs.  
Shared Service - The bandwidth availability is irregular as customers share a limited amount of the radio frequency bandwidth. The ISP must manage the amount of customers to not overwhelm the network. 
Line Of Sight - A wireless broadband connection is highly dependent on the surrounding landscape. The frequencies have a higher chance of being interrupted by large buildings or trees and work best when relatively close to the transmission tower.
No Roaming - Although the connection is wireless, it is fixed to your home. You will still need to be near your WiFi router to access the internet or have a data plan with your mobile provider. 
Less Secure - A wireless home broadband connection faces more security threats as the signals are sent through the air and can be intercepted if not properly encrypted.


If your local ISP offers a fiber-to-the-home connection and you value long-term reliability and stable speeds, then you should consider a fiber connection. If you live in a rural area and are a relatively close distance to a wireless broadband transmission tower, a wireless broadband connection may work for you.

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