Does Verizon FiOS Use Existing Coaxial Cable?

By Allen Breon

Fiber optic cables provide a reliable and fast Internet connection.
i Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

When considering changing your Internet provider, you'll find the options fall into several main divisions. For example, DSL high-speed service use existing copper telephone lines to transmit your Internet connection; it carries the Internet signals over the phone lines using frequencies humans do not use in conversation. Cable Internet service uses existing coaxial cables, traditionally used to carry television program. FiOS Internet service uses fiber optic lines to deliver your Internet connection.

Coaxial Cables

In most communities in the U.S., cable television companies have installed coaxial cabling that connects to virtually every home and apartment. The type of cable traditionally used by cable companies is coaxial cable. Coaxial cable is typically recognized by a screw-on connector at the end, with a thin copper wire in the center. While known to carry television programs, these cables can also carry Internet information, and provide you with an always-on, high-speed online connection.

Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optic cables are made of thin strands of glass shaped into tubes. The tubes are surrounded by a light-proof, reflective rubber cladding. Digital information travels through these tubes as flashes of light; the cladding reflects the light back into the glass tube. Each residence and business on a Verizon FiOS circuit have bundles of hundreds of thousands of these tubes. The signal in a FiOS cable stays strong over long distances, in contrast to DSL and coaxial cable service.

FiOS Internet service

Verizon attaches an Optical Network Terminal (ONT) to your residence or business, typically in an external location. The fiber optic cables run directly to this unit; they do not enter your home or business. An Ethernet cable connects the ONT to your computer or router. No modem is required within your home, as is typically required with coaxial and DSL connections. When you transmit information over the Internet, the ONT converts your information back into pulses of light to transmit over the fiber optic network.

Benefits of FiOS

FiOS connection speeds can be significantly higher than connections using DSL or cable, up to 50 mbps in some areas. The upload speed is significantly higher as well -- up to 20 Mbps. Additionally, the FiOS lines are dedicated to your Internet connection; you aren't sharing the bandwidth with television shows or phone conversations. Also, while DSL and cable connections can be prone to interference issues, fiber optic connections typically are not.