Compare: DSL Internet vs. Fiber-Optic

The Breakdown

What you need to know about DSL vs. fiber-optic Internet

Location Logistics

It’s no secret that fiber-optic Internet is the fastest Internet option. It’s slick, smooth – but it’s availability hasn’t hit a growth spurt yet.

DSL providers have a fairly built-out coverage area, with an expansive network across both populated and scarcely populated areas. Fiber-optic Internet service is growing, but doesn’t have anywhere close to the availability that DSL does.


DSL provides customers with Internet access by transmitting digital data over the wires of a local telephone network. Digital and voice information can be delivered at the same time, because DSL encodes data in high frequencies.

Fiber-optic Internet is carried over fiber optic cables that carry voice, Internet and video over a strand of optic fiber via modulated light. Optical cable cannot be disrupted by electrical interference because light is the mechanism of transmission.


Speed is the backbone of any Internet service. Without fast speeds, you don’t have convenient or useful Internet. So how does DSL stack up against fiber-optic Internet? Fiber-optic Internet is undoubtedly faster than DSL. A fiber connection can have a 5Gb movie downloaded in roughly ten minutes – much faster than a DSL or even cable connection could.

So why doesn’t everyone have fiber-optic Internet? It goes back to its availability. Fiber optics offer fast Internet, but it’s not offered in many places.

Installation Process

DSL relies on a landline, which many homes are already setup for. Fiber-optic Internet needs, well, fiber optic cables.

The installation process for fiber-optic Internet can be fairly intrusive and lengthy, whereas in some cases a DSL installation takes only thirty minutes from start to finish.