Wondering what fiber optic internet is? Learn what it is, how it works, and which service providers offer it so you know which ones to go for.
Complete Guide to Fiber Optic Internet: What Is It, How Does It Work?
Across the United States, almost 350 million people are internet users. This is 94.6% of the country's population!
Obviously, it's vital for us to get online, especially those who have digitally-heavy work and/or hobbies. For most, regular broadband internet is adequate, but for others, they need something much faster. For that, there's fiber optic internet.
What is fiber optic internet? How does it compare to other types of internet? And which internet service providers (ISPs) have fiber optic available?
In this article, we'll discuss the answer to all these questions and more, including what the top service providers are in the US.
What Is Fiber Optic Internet?
What is a fiber optic internet connection? Well, as you can guess from the name, this is a type of internet that uses fiber optics to relay internet signals.
You know how they say something goes at the speed of light? This is the reason why fiber internet is the fastest internet available to us right now.
While the fastest fiber optic internet on record is 255 Tbps (you can download a 1 GB movie in 31.25 microseconds!), you certainly won't get speeds like that with commercial service. In general, you can expect to get download speeds of 1,000 Gbps, which is still miles better than other types of internet.
This technology is cutting-edge, which means you won't find it everywhere, as it takes a huge investment on the ISP's part. In addition, expect to pay much higher prices when compared to other internet services.
How Does Fiber-Optic Internet Work?
With fiber optic internet, you connect through fiber optic cables. Normally, other types of broadband internet use copper wires.
Why fiber optics works so much better than copper is because of the fact that it uses light. Not only can it travel over long distances with very little attenuation, but it also doesn't suffer from distortion. As a result, this means you don't get a significant weakening of the signal, no matter how long the fiber optic cable is.
On the other hand, copper wires have been used for telecommunications ever since telephones were invented. These copper wires can transmit signals quite decently.
But as you may have guessed, they're much more susceptible to attenuation and distortion. This is why if you've ever gotten cable or DSL internet before, where you lived affected your signal greatly.
Fiber Optic Internet Compared to Other Types of Internet
Now that you know how fiber optic internet works, let's take a look at how it compares to the other types of broadband internet. They include DSL, cable, fixed wireless, and satellite internet.
DSL internet is one of the most commonly used types of high-speed internet. To get a connection, signals are transmitted through telephone wires. This means that if you're located near a switching station, you'll be able to get very fast speeds with DSL.
Because DSL internet uses telephone wires that are currently unused, you don't have to worry about it taking up your landline. This was the biggest problem that came with its predecessor: dial-up internet. With DSL, you can get online and talk on the phone simultaneously.
Compared to fiber optic internet, it's much slower. However, out of the list of options here, it's one of the quickest.
Cable internet is also a major contender for the most popular type of internet that's used around the world. This is because like with DSL, it provides the quickest speeds (excluding fiber optic internet).
With this type of internet, you get online through signals sent through coaxial cables. This same cable can be used for TV, which is why with cable ISPs, they usually let you bundle services like internet, TV, and phone.
These coaxial cables need to first be laid before customers can get service, so typically, you can only find this service in more urban areas.
Fixed Wireless Internet
While most people prefer DSL or cable internet, these services may not always be available. This is especially true for more rural locations.
In that case, you have the choice of fixed wireless internet. Instead of using a modem to receive signals (as you would with the other 2), you connect through internet signals that are transmitted through radiowaves.
While speeds are decent with fixed wireless internet, it can be unreliable. If you reside somewhere that gets bad weather often, then it may not be such a good choice. However, it may be your only choice to get online.
If you live in a rural area, another option is satellite internet. It's available in practically 100% of the United States because the satellites have that far of a reach.
Internet speeds are also decent with satellite internet, but are slower than the other options. Also, it's expensive to get, for both installation and monthly fees. For these reasons, you should probably keep satellite internet as a last option for getting online.
Fiber Optic Internet Providers
Is your heart set on getting fiber optic internet? It can certainly be well worth the money to surf the internet at the fastest speeds possible.
To help you out, here's a great fiber optic internet providers list for the US.
The biggest fiber optic internet provider for our country is Verizon Fios. They cover almost 35 million people and offer their services across 10 states. With this ISP, you can get download speeds of up to 950 Mbps.
Out of those 10 states, Verizon Fios mainly serves Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. You can expect to get excellent coverage in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, the Bronx, New York, Staten Island, and Washington.
Considering they're the biggest ISP in the US and were the first ones to truly offer fiber optic internet in 2005, you should highly consider going with this ISP. You can count on them to bring you fast internet and great service.
You'll also be pleased to know that they offer digital phone and TV services that can be bundled with their internet services.
The next biggest fiber optic provider is AT&T fiber. They serve a little over 25 million customers but have a broader reach of 21 states. AT&T Fiber's speeds top out at 1,000 Mbps.
The greatest coverage this ISP has is over California, Texas, and Florida. The biggest cities they serve include Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago, and Miami.
Should you want to bundle your TV services, you can do so under DirecTV. AT&T is currently the owner of this satellite TV provider. You can also bundle your phone services if you wish.
EarthLink Fiber comes in at a close 3rd, as they serve almost 25 million people as well. They offer their fiber optic internet services across 21 states. With EarthLink Fiber, you'll get download speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps.
You'll get the greatest coverage from them in California, Texas, and New York. The top areas EarthLink Fiber serves are Los Angeles, San Antonio, Houston, Chicago, Brooklyn, Miami, and New York.
This is a great ISP to use because their fiber optic network covers around 50% of American homes. This is thanks to Trive Capital's acquisition of the company.
However, if you're looking to bundle phone and TV services, you should look elsewhere. This ISP only provides internet services.
Frontier Communications is next on the list, but with just almost 11 million customers served. They have coverage in 8 states and unfortunately, their speeds only go up to 100 Mbps.
You'll find the most coverage in California, Connecticut, and Florida. The top cities Frontier Communications serves are Long Beach, Durham, Fort Wayne, Lakeland, Rochester, Saint Petersburg, and Rochester.
This ISP actually provides most of their fiber optic internet through Verizon Fios's networks, which they acquired in 2014. You can also bundle TV and phone services if you need all 3.
The 5th biggest fiber optic internet provider is CenturyLink, which serves over 9.5 million Americans. Their service maxes out at 100 Mbps.
While they don't top the list of ISPs, they certainly do for coverage. They're the only ones that offer service across all 50 states, which is no easy feat.
CenturyLink has the best coverage in Washington, Arizona, and Colorado. Top areas served include Seattle, Saint Paul, Denver, Tucson, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Like with most other ISPs, CenturyLink allows you to bundle their internet services with phone and digital TV (called "Prism TV").
Google Fiber is an ISP that offers internet services to just over 2 million people. You can enjoy their services in 10 states and get speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps.
The main states you'll receive service are Texas, Missouri, and Kansas. In addition, the top areas served by Google Fiber are Austin, Kansas City (both of them), Olathe, Provo, Lees Summit, and Overland Park.
As you may have guessed, Google Fiber only offers fiber optic internet. For phone and TV services, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Windstream serves over 1.6 million Americans but has a wide coverage area of 44 states. Their internet speed maxes out at 1,000 Mbps.
This ISP mainly serves Texas, Georgia, and Illinois. Windstream's top areas served are Lincoln, Lexington, Charlotte, Sugar Land, Concord, Broken Arrow, and New York.
Their fiber optic internet services are considered "hybrid" services, as they use fiber-DSL connections. You'll see this service branded as "Kinetic" connections.
With Windstream, you'll be able to bundle internet, phone, and TV services together.
Cincinnati Bell serves almost 1.4 million people. They have a coverage area over 19 states and their fiber optic internet also gets download speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps.
Their greatest coverage is in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Their top areas served include Cincinnati, Mason, Hamilton, Fairfield, Loveland, Covington, and West Chester.
As with many other ISPs, you can bundle phone and TV services with your fiber optic internet.
C Spire Fiber
C Spire Fiber serves around 1.2 million customers and their services span across 8 states. With this ISP, you'll also get speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps.
They serve mainly Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The main cities you'll find C Spire Fiber in are Hattiesburg, Mobile, Jackson, Brandon, Meridian, Madison, and Southaven.
If you want to bundle internet, phone, and TV services, you can with this ISP. They also have cable internet services as a viable alternative.
Metronet serves a little over 1 million people but you can only find them in 3 states for fiber optic internet. Get speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps with this ISP.
The 3 states Metronet serves are Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Their top areas served are Lexington, Bloomington, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Greenwood, Carmel, and Normal.
In addition to fiber optic internet services, Metronet also offers phone and IPTV services you can get in bundles.
Sign up for Fiber Optic Internet Today
Now you have a great idea of what fiber optic internet is, how it works, and what the best ISPs are out there.
It's true that now, there aren't many places out there that have fiber optic capabilities. But if this is really important to you, and you're moving soon, it may be worth considering relocating to a more metropolitan area to ensure that you can get the fastest internet available.
With KonectEaze, this is entirely possible. Whether you're moving or just want to switch ISPs, we have a myriad of resources for you to find out if fiber optic internet (or any other type of internet) is available in the area you're in. Let us help you find the perfect plan for you!
Are you ready to find out if you get fiber optic internet in your area? Then use our zip code search tool now. We have thousands of internet plans to choose from.