Cable Internet vs. Fixed Wireless - A Detailed ComparisonDec 11 , 2017
Cable is a common method of wired internet connectivity, particularly for residential locations. Some providers also offer cable packages that are branded as business solutions. Fixed wireless is an increasingly popular service. Most fixed wireless internet service providers offer customized solutions for businesses due to the variation in bandwidth requirements from one organization to the next.
What is Cable Internet?
Cable internet is a form of broadband internet access that uses the same infrastructure as cable television. Cable draws its name from the coaxial cable that connects a modem on the user’s end to a cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the operator’s facility. This cable is a traditional analog wire that is used to transmit cable television to end users.
While television signals are a one-way connection into your living room, a cable internet connection requires two-way data transmission. The user’s modem decodes incoming signals, while the service provider’s CMTS handles data traveling in the other direction.
Fixed wireless sends microwaves signals from a transmitter radio, or Point of Presence (PoP), to a receiver radio at another fixed location. Predictably, there are no wires involved, but the connection does require a clear line of sight between radios for this type of solution to work.
Fixed wireless is easy to set up and the lack of equipment required to install and maintain the network makes it an attractive option for businesses of all sizes.
How Do These Solutions Compare?
So you’ve had the basic overview of each method of connectivity, but how do the two stack up?
Setup and Maintenance
Both cable and fixed wireless are simple to install. Cable requires the addition of a modem to a standard living room setup, while fixed wireless may require the installation of a receiver dish onto the property. Once this receiver radio is in place, the internet service provider (ISP) can adjust the transmitter radio to get the dedicated connection up and running.
Any changes can be made with either solution. For fixed wireless, the ISP can scale up the required bandwidth to accompany the changing needs of the business. With cable, the business would be expected to enter a new fixed-term agreement when seeking an upgrade.
Fixed wireless already offers speeds of up to 1Gbps. While there are rumors that cable services offer “up to 1 Gbps”, it’s unclear whether the technology is capable of these speeds yet. Typically, cable providers offer business customers download speeds of 16 up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of 1.5 to 5Mbps.
Fixed wireless is also capable of providing synchronous bandwidth speeds. This means that circuits can be configured to ensure that upload speeds to match download speeds - an important factor as organizations increase their reliance on cloud-based applications.
Cable has long been classed as a reliable internet solution as service is delivered through a wire rather than satellite signal (satellite is an entirely different internet solution - see here). However, it is a shared bandwidth solution meaning that all cable subscribers within a certain radius share the available bandwidth. This can result in slower data speeds caused by heavy usage in the area.
In contrast, fixed wireless offers a dedicated connection and speeds run true i.e. if your business signed an agreement for 25Mbps, your business will receive speeds of 25Mbps. With fixed wireless there is no “up to” or any other language that can be left open to interpretation.
Cable is widely available, particularly for residential locations, due to the prevalence of cable television. However, if your business does not have access to cable television, it will not have access to cable internet either.
Fixed wireless is growing in popularity. The lack of wires made it an excellent option for rural businesses and homes but as the value of a high-speed wireless solution became clear, more and more providers built networks in major cities. Today, it’s likely that a fixed wireless ISP operates in your area. However, to achieve a reliable connection, fixed wireless relies on a clear line of sight between transmitter and receiver radios.
The cost of cable internet is dependent on a host factors. Businesses can often receive a discounted rate when choosing to bundle television and phone services with their cable subscription. Typically, the price of a cable connection ranges from $30 to $100+ per month in addition to an installation fee. This will vary considerably based on speed, provider and location.
Although these prices sounds affordable, the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. $30 per month might sound great but if this only covers speeds that are not fast enough to support typical business needs, it’s not a deal at all.
Fixed wireless tends to be marginally more expensive but again, prices vary based on a host of factors including bandwidth speed. As with cable internet, expect to pay more for faster speeds. One advantage that fixed wireless does hold over cable internet in relation to price, is that as more users subscribe a network, the price can be expected to decline because the provider is able to transfer reduced equipment costs into savings for the customer.
To summarize in the most concise way possible, cable is cheaper, slower and more readily available than fixed wireless. Fixed wireless is slightly more expensive but offers a dedicated connection, synchronous speeds and an easily scalable connection.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-303-9900 if you would like to learn more about fixed wireless connection and how it can benefit your business.