Fiber vs. Cellular Internet

Consumers today face an abundance of choices for high-speed internet. And since you’re already paying for a data plan with your cell phone service provider, you may also wonder if you should use that company for your internet service.

In this article, we explain what cellular internet is and why fiber is far and away the better choice for most consumers.

Your neighbors at FASTnet are proud to have fast and reliable internet you can get. And we’re especially thrilled that our internet speeds can keep up with major metropolitan areas around the country, helping our communities compete in the global economy.

Read on to learn more about these two technologies and why fiber is your best choice—and that, yes, you really do need a separate fiber connection for high-speed internet.

What is Cellular or Wireless/5G Internet?

With all the high-speed internet options available today, it’s not surprising that customers need clarification when choosing an internet provider.

And it’s not only the technology that’s complicated—even the names of different internet-related products and services can be so similar and complicate things further!

So, what is cellular or wireless/5G internet? Let’s start with what cellular or wireless internet is not. First, wireless internet is not the same thing as Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi disperses internet signal throughout a home or office so that all your devices—smart TVs, laptops, tablets, cell phones, smart speakers, etc.—can be connected to the internet without a wired connection.

Thus, just like other kinds of internet (cable, satellite, or fiber), cellular or wireless internet enters the home or business and is distributed by Wi-Fi through the Wi-Fi router or related technology. Most customers will still use Wi-Fi and a router unless they plan to hardwire every connection to every device, which is highly uncommon.

Cellular or wireless internet, also known as 4G or 5G internet, is delivered by cell phone towers. Instead of being delivered by a hardwired connection like coaxial cable or fiber, cellular or wireless internet is transmitted “through the air.”

While it can often deliver decent speeds, wireless or 5G internet is notorious for service interruptions due to obstructions from other structures. And because cellular/wireless or 5G internet is totally dependent on the number of cell phone towers dispersing signal—and even more crucially, the distance a customer is from a cell phone tower—their speeds and quality of the connection can greatly vary.

What is Fiber Internet?

Fiber internet’s advanced materials and technology make it the fastest and most reliable form of internet on the market today. Short for “fiber optic” internet, fiber utilizes fiber optic cable, which consists of hundreds of densely packed strands of glass inside the cord.

The fiber optic cable connects directly to your home or business before being dispersed to your devices. Pulses of light transmit internet data along these glass hairs at near light speed!

Due to fiber’s impressive components and infrastructure, it has a vastly greater capacity to handle and transmit all the online data that you use daily—from social media, documents, and emails to music, gaming, and television.

Fiber also has higher upload speeds, which is used when your device sends information back to the server (or other internet users). Higher upload speeds are essential for stable and clear video calls and conferences.

Only fiber can power a household full of devices at once without causing slowdowns on any of them—making it the #1 choice for modern households.

So, What’s the Difference Between Fiber Internet and Cellular/Wireless (5G) Internet?

The connection-type is the first key distinction between fiber and cellular/wireless internet.

Importantly, fiber is “hardwired.” Its internet signal enters your premises through physical wiring, not cellular or wireless 5G signal sent through the air.

This distinction means that obstructions like trees and other buildings can’t stop fiber’s excellent speeds from delivering internet to your home or business. Fiber internet also has far greater bandwidth capacity than cellular/wireless internet because its materials can carry much more information than wireless signal can.

There are other significant disadvantages to cellular/wireless/5G internet service.

Remember that cellular service prioritizes its originally intended purpose—providing mobile phone service. That one function takes up most of cellular’s capacity to transmit data. Thus, cellular internet services lack the power to consistently provide the data you need to enjoy the online activities you love, like streaming movies and TV, video calling and conferences, online gaming and so much more.

But it gets even worse. To deal with the ever-growing demand for data, cellular companies reduce the speed and quality of their internet service to prevent internet users from gobbling up too much of their data capacity.

That’s why cellular companies enforce data caps on their internet services, which significantly limit or even outright prevent you from doing the online activities you’ve come to enjoy.

They also employ “throttling,” another annoying practice that slows down bandwidth—and your entire internet performance.

While some companies only do this after you’ve reached a certain pre-determined amount of data usage each month, others throttle your broadband anytime and for any reason. For countless customers, these restrictions are extremely frustrating.

On the other hand, fiber internet never has data caps or bandwidth throttling because its superior technology doesn’t get overwhelmed like cellular/wireless internet. Fiber’s high bandwidth capacity and fast upload (as well as download) speeds can handle just about everything online without data caps, throttling, or other intentional slowdowns.

Fiber’s Superior Security

But fiber’s advantages over cellular/wireless internet extend well beyond fiber’s superior speed and reliability (as essential as they are). Better data security is another reason to choose fiber.

Because cellular/wireless internet requires a signal to transmit “over the air,” it is susceptible to being intercepted.

Wireless internet is especially prone to a particular cybercrime known as a DDoS Attack—short for “Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack.” DDoS attacks overwhelm servers and slow down traffic, even jeopardizing sensitive data. And DDoS attacks are unfortunately on the rise.

Fiber, on the other hand, is hardwired straight to your walls—its internet flies through fiber optic cable without needing to disperse signal through the air. Thus, fiber’s advanced technology provides a layer of protection and security from hackers, scammers, and other criminals that cellular or wireless internet simply cannot.

From faster speeds to more reliable signals, a more secure connection, and greater capacity to carry out more online activities from multiple devices simultaneously, fiber internet stands ahead of cellular/wireless 5G internet.

For more information on fiber internet and why it’s your best choice for high-speed internet, feel free to reach out to the knowledgeable support team at FASTnet. We’re local and here to serve you!