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Does Spectrum Use Fiber-Optic Or Copper?

Last Updated Jun 13, 2022
fiber optic

Your connection to the internet allows you access to entertainment, banking, school, work, family, and practically everything in between. The most important aspect of that connection is that it is reliable. As an Internet Service Provider customer, you want to know they are keeping their technology infrastructure updated to keep you online.

Spectrum uses both copper coaxial cable connections and fiber-optic cable connections, like many modern Internet Service Providers, when delivering internet service to customers’ homes.

Cable has been the standard go-to for high-speed internet for the past twenty years ever since many of us have moved on from DSL, the world’s first foray into broadband internet. Although cable is still reliable and has pros and cons, fiber-optic cable is the future of internet connectivity. You want to ensure you aren’t left behind in the dust when it comes to staying connected.

Spectrum Internet Availability

Spectrum utilizes both cable, also known as coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable to deliver its internet services. 

The fiber-optic service is only available in certain areas or at an Enterprise business level. Most Spectrum customers are going to be accessing their internet through cable internet. While Spectrum does have fiber-optic available, it is in much fewer markets. 

Spectrum supplies businesses with dedicated two-way fiber-optic connections at Spectrum Enterprise Fiber Internet Access level that is almost assuredly priced out of the reach of the common home user, if they are available at all, which is unlikely. 

Spectrum is available in 41 states across the US. The only states omitted from Spectrum service are Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah. Spectrum Internet service is available everywhere else in the country. You can check Spectrum coverage by going to this Spectrum Internet Coverage map.

Another bonus for Spectrum is that they don’t have a data cap. So, no matter whether you go cable or fiber-optic, you can download and use the internet without fear of running up your bill when you binge-watch just one more episode of your favorite TV show on a device, such as the Echo Show.

Even though Spectrum does have fiber-optic available, many consumers complain that Spectrum Internet is bad.

Fiber-Optic vs. Copper (Cable)

While fiber-optic has faster speeds, that’s not to say cable is as slow as dial-up. Cable internet is capable of up to 500 Mbps speeds. That is more than most users will ever use, much less needed. It would take many people in the house power using multiple devices using massive amounts of bandwidth at once just to notice a slowdown with that speed. 

With fiber-optic, you would see a significant jump in speed with speeds of 2,000 Mbps available. However, most people wouldn’t even notice the speed jump between 500 and 2,000. Most people are already using the internet as fast as they need. The faster internet becomes most useful when multiple users are on the network, all using bandwidth-heavy devices. 

If you have five people on Zoom meetings, TikTok, streaming music, and a 4K movie playing on the same network, 500 Mbps might not be enough bandwidth for you. That’s when fiber-optic will be your friend. If there are just a few people in the house, maybe playing on phones and watching TVs, cable internet should serve most families well.

The biggest drawback to cable is lag. Cable can lag during peak times. This occurs due to the way that cable is routed in a neighborhood. You and your neighbors all share bandwidth from your internet service provider. The more people online, the more flooded the connection becomes, and the smaller your piece of the bandwidth pie becomes. 

As a result, your connection speed slows down. Fiber-optic doesn’t suffer from these types of lag due to much higher available speeds and distribution methods. 

Fiber-optic is much more sturdy in inclement weather than copper wires. It’s more often buried, whereas cable is not. Whenever fiber-optic does go down like a wire is cut, it would take longer to fix than a standard copper cable. A fiber-optic outage would take longer to repair, but they happen much less frequently than a cable outage. However, fiber-optic tends to be more expensive than cable.

Not Much Say as a Consumer

Ultimately, deciding which Internet Service Provider to use can often be a limited choice depending on where you live. As well as the option for cable or fiber can also depend on location. Your chances of having better options increase the closer to a large city you live in.

Cable and fiber each have their pros and cons, and it will ultimately be up to the end-user to decide what would be most economical for their use case, but if it is in the budget, you can’t beat a 2,000 Mbps fiber connection for reliability and speed.

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