Cable vs Fiber-Optic for hi-speed internet - Is there any difference? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-05, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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Cable vs Fiber-Optic for hi-speed internet - Is there any difference?

The short:

Are there any differences to be aware of between Cable and Fiber-Optic services for VoIP etc?

The Long:

Now that I have an OBi110, I want to blow out my Bell Canada home phone line. This line costs $80.00 per month and does not include any long-distance calls, that's extra! Including tax, it costs $93.00 per month.

For Hi-Speed, I have two options: Bell Canada Fibe or Videotron Cable.

I have heard that cable quality degrades as more people in your area use it, is that true?

If so, does the same hold true for fiber-optic?

Is one 'preferred' for VoIP usage?

Thanks,

Rob.
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-05, 05:22 PM
 
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In comparing the two, local issues will matter most. Distance to node; quality of lines to the node for Bell. Age of coax and local traffic management for Videotron. I would speak to your neighbours. For Fiber-to-the-home service, the two are very similar; the only real question is how well the optical fiber will age over the years.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-05, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Tanta.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-06, 08:46 AM
 
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Be very careful of what you're purchasing as "Fibe" from Bell.

It is NOT Fibre-Optic. Bell has been deploying true fibre in very limited-trial areas. I don't think Montreal is one of them.

Bell's "Fibe" still uses a plain old twisted-pair copper from your house to the node. From the node back to the CO, may be fibre however it's been there for a long, long time.

Basically, you're purchasing high-speed DSL. Really bad label as "Fibe".

The speed of the connection doesn't matter as much as the latency. You can still have a decent voip experience with a slower speed. It's your latency that counts.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-06, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Cambo.

"Here it comes!": How do I check latency?
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-06, 04:53 PM
 
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Cambo is right; most of Montreal is on copper wire. All of Québec City is FTTH, because the density of CO's was too low - to accomodate the aging copper over long distances -, which historically crippled Bell's copper DSL service (Sympatico...) dropping Bell's local market share to dismal levels. They needed a draconian solution to compete, hence FTTH. Thankfully for customers, there is now real competition again.

When in doubt ask directly if optical fiber enters the home. All of Bell's optical fiber is clearly identified on the outer protective sheath as 'Corning Optical Fiber Cable'. FWIW, the latency is super stable between 5 ms and 7 ms on Fibe 7 FTTH installations here. To check latency, go to speedtest.net or similar site. All of this info is from a nearby friend's installation, I'm still with V and quite happy to stay there!
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-06, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
 
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Hi Tanta:

In Montreal, is it better then to go with Videotron? Assuming Bell is not really fiber-optic? Are there other alternatives?

Thanks,

Rob.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-06, 08:46 PM
 
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For internet, I would go with Videotron, unless you are sure Bell is FTTH and not to the node (FTTN); apparently there are some FTTH installations in Repentigny. If you have neighbours that are satisfied with Bell and you know the distance to the node - then that's another option -
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-06, 09:08 PM
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There are alternatives, but they're resellers like Teksavvy. From a strictly VOIP point of view, cable is probably more likely to offer lower latency, but it's not guaranteed.

From a broader internet point of view, what matters is local factors. DSL (either FTTH or FTTN) might give you better performance if you're close enough to the CO, but if you're far away it will result in lower speeds and higher latency. Cable might offer higher peak speeds, especially if Videotron is using Speedboost (I'm not sure if they are or not) but can be dramatically affected by other users in your neighbourhood. Cable will also offer higher download speeds, but Bell's DSL 25 offering has a significantly higher theoretical upload than anything other than Videotron's crazy expensive 120 plan.

As mentioned by Tanta, talk to your neighbours and see if they can offer any insight into local conditions. If you know how much you want to spend per month, that might also make a big difference. Videotron's low cost plans aren't necessarily equal to Bell's low cost plans, for example. You may also want to investigate TPIA providers like Teksavvy to see if they can offer better rates on whichever service you choose.

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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-07, 12:41 AM
 
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Another consideration is whether or not you want to keep your landline phone. If you want to get rid of it and switch completely to VoIP then cable will likely be cheaper because with DSL you'll have to pay a dry loop fee on top of the Internet service fee.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-07, 07:26 AM
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I too was paying that much, times 2, since I had 2 bell lines. Yep with Tax, not including long distance was around $94 a month per line!

I dumped Bell's POTS phone lines and had them install Fibe25 at the special price of $34 a month for 1 year. I first ported my 2 Bell numbers over to my VoIP provider.

After experimenting with VoIP providers for a year I went with VoIP.ms for the Bell numbers. I also have a 3rd line from Callcentric since they have the best LD rates to Asia for my wife.

I now 4 VoIP phone lines in the house... we each have our own line and number... there is 3 of us here... the 4th line I tell everyone in for my Cat.
Actually the 4th line is with Link2VoIP and that one is just to play around with. My Cat doesn't like to talk to anyone!

All in all... I pay less then $20 a month for the 4 phone lines, long distance included! with bell I was paying close to $200.

Oh yeah... a Callcentric call to a Cell phone in Thailand costs 3 cents a minute... with Bell the same call with cost you $3.10 a minute! I feel sorry for anyone paying Bell rates these days...
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-07, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert.Thompson View Post

How do I check latency?
The simplest form of test is to run the ping command in a command prompt.
e.g.:
ping www.google.com
will show you the amount of time it takes small packets to travel from you to google's web server and back
commonly referred to as Round Trip Time, or RTT.

if in windows, you can try ping / ? for more advanced command syntax.

You can also use tracert (AKA traceroute), to see which leg of the path from you to some distant server
is contributing the most to latency.

in that case tracert www.google.com
will print the latency of each "hop"

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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-07, 02:22 PM
 
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Bell has a lot of catching up to do in just about every area of its business. From cable, cellular to subscription TV (I dare not call it satellite or fiber). As far as broadband internet goes. Videotron is a lot truer to form. Having had both, I much prefer Videotron's throghput and constant speeds than Bell's. I must conceede that Bell's upload is quite a bit more generous than VDN but that's a choice for one to make. Do you prefer 60 MB down / 2.5 MB up to let's say 25 MB down / 7 MB up??? The number may have changed by now but I think the ratio is pretty much the same. As far as latency goes, I have run ping tests to cnn.com on both at various times of the day and Videotron has consistently stayed on top (for shorter pings that is).

In the Montreal area, Bell may be FTTC (Fiber-to-the-Curb) or FTTN (Fiber-to-the-Node) but certainly not FTTH. And until that day comes, they may label it six ways to Sunday, it's still good old DSL as long as that twisted copper wire runs into people's homes.

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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-07, 04:02 PM
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Videotron calls it 60/3, but I don't know whether you'll actually get 3 up. If it's my only consideration, I'd rather have the 25/7 since I very rarely saturate my 24 Mbps connection as it is, so I'll see much more value out of the extra upload. Of course, at that point I'd be more likely to make my decision based on latency, distance from the CO, and how busy my area is on cable, which is why I don't think there is a definitive right answer for which is better, as so much is based on local factors and how much you want to spend.

This is a popular question on Digital Home from new members: which provider is better for [internet/television/mobile] service. The answer is pretty much always that it depends on local factors and what exactly you want.

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 2012-02-07, 05:12 PM
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The 7 up is very nice! Most people are sold on only the download speed but really you need a good upload speed too if you use services like Live Drive or you want to stream high quality video from your Sling Box .
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