Fiber vs Fixed Wireless: What’s the Hype with Fiber?


When shopping around for internet services, you might start to question which is better, fiber vs fixed wireless. Learning the differences between these services will help you make the best decision for yourself and better understand the hype around fiber.

Fiber vs Fixed Wireless: Pros and Cons

Doing a side-by-side comparison between fiber and fixed wireless provides clear insights as to why customers are moving toward fiber for their services. Here’s a look at the key areas of comparison between the services.

1. Performance

While fixed wireless continues to improve every day with better technology, it is unlikely to ever outperform fiber. That’s because the bandwidth of fiber networks is larger. And fixed networks naturally have capacity limits, which impact the number of users on a network without performance changes.

2. Obstructions

Fixed networks experience negative effects from line-of-sight obstructions. Even something as simple as foliage or adverse weather could impact services. Getting a clear line of sight to all houses in a neighborhood is complex. In contrast, fiber does not require a line of sight for strong coverage.

3. Scalability

Another challenge that fixed networks face is the lack of scalability due to financials and tech. The amount of wireless spectrum directly relates to the number of devices or households that spectrum can serve. When network users increase, the network operator has to increase the spectrum. That gets costly and, in some cases, simply isn’t possible. Designing fixed networks that can scale is incredibly challenging. Fiber does not face the same challenges.

4. Rural Coverage

Fixed wireless is not ideal in rural communities because geographic dispersion requires mounting structures to avoid obstructions and disruptions. That might mean putting the technology on towers or rooftops.

5. Upfront Capital Required for Deploying Networks

Fiber requires a higher upfront investment than fixed wireless networks. However, the cost of installing towers for the antenna for fixed wireless can add to the total cost.

6. Ongoing Operational Expenses

While fiber costs more to install upfront, ongoing maintenance costs are far more expensive for fixed networks. That’s because the majority of the materials need to be replaced every five years. In contrast, only about 10 percent of the fiber network equipment needs to be replaced every 10 years.

7. Data Limits

Some fiber networks place data caps on services. Fixed wireless never has caps. But you can generally shop around and find a reasonable fiber data limit or services with no limit at all.

8. Availability

Because fiber is up and coming, it isn’t available everywhere yet. Fixed wireless has decent availability until you head out into rural areas. That’s where fiber has the largest opportunity to make an impact for those living in low-connectivity areas. United Communications founded Project Unite to deliver high-speed internet to under-connected communities in middle Tennessee.

9. Uptime

Both networks offer strong uptime. This shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing between fixed and fiber. Instead, you might evaluate uptime for your prospective internet service providers.

10. Security

Fixed wireless is overall considered to be secure. However, fiber internet is the most secure technology that you can use.

Interested in learning more about fiber internet near you? Check availability from United Communications for your community.

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