When it comes to High Speed Internet, two companies dominate the market: Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Verizon Fios. Time Warner — soon to be a part of Comcast — and Verizon service a large portion of the U.S. market; many urban centers have access to both of these providers. But which provides the best Internet connection for your hard-earned dollar? In the Time Warner vs FiOS battle, who comes out on top?
The Fiber/Cable Divide
First, it’s important to understand that TWC and Verizon use different infrastructures to deliver their High Speed Internet. Time Warner uses coaxial cables, which are the same as those used to provide television service. Verizon Fios, meanwhile, uses fiber optic cables. These cables contain long strands of glass which carry light pulses rather than electrical current. Typically, fiber optic lines terminate at a video ready access device (VRAD) in your neighborhood and the “last mile” of signal is transmitted over traditional copper wires. As a result, you may be able to use the existing modem and phone jack in your home to receive the Fios signal. It’s worth noting that Fios isn’t available in all cities, since fiber optic cables require unique infrastructure. Many cities on the Eastern seaboard along with several in Texas and California have access to Fios. Those in the midwest or northern part of the United States do not.
Cable offers several benefits, most notably stability of service and the ability to “boost” speeds temporarily for larger downloads. Problems with cable include bottle necking, which can occur when multiple devices in your home are all connected to the Internet or when many users in your neighborhood attempt simultaneous connections, causing the cable “pipeline” to become full. Fiber optic cables, meanwhile, are a dedicated service for each user and are resistant to extreme weather such as rain or lightning. Possible problems include issues at the transfer point from fiber to copper — if this last mile connection is not properly managed, you could end up with speeds far lower than promised.
Time Warner vs Fios: What You Get With TWC
Time Warner has made a significant effort to upgrade the speed and stability of its service and now offers a range of Internet plans. Their Everyday Low Price plan comes in at just $15 and provides 2 megabytes per second (Mbps) download speeds along with 1 Mbps upload speeds, in addition to 100 Mb of email storage. This is on the slow end of high speed Internet but for the price is an excellent starter plan.
If you need something more robust, consider the Standard plan, which offers 15 Mbps downloads and 2 gigabytes (Gb) of email storage space for $35. This is more than enough speed to stream videos, shop online or play online games. Turbo and Extreme — which offer 20 Mbps and 30 Mbps, respectively, are geared toward online home business users and those who download large files on a regular basis. At the top end of the spectrum is TWC’s Ultimate plan. For $65 per month you get 100 Mbps downloads, 5 Mbps uploads and 10 Gb of storage space. This is great plan for households with multiple, concurrent Internet users.
What Fios Offers
Fios plans are more expensive than anything TWC has to offer — the tradeoff for price, however, is vastly improved speed. For example, a basic Fios plan can run $130 per month but you’ll get 50 Mbps download and 25 Mbps upload speeds. The upload side especially is much faster than most other providers and makes it easy to upload photos, videos or even large-format files. If speed is your top priority, Verizon has you covered: For a whopping $300 a month you get 500 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload speeds.
To put that in perspective, it means the fastest Fios upload speed matches TWC’s fastest downloads. In most cases, this kind of extreme speed isn’t necessary and as more fiber optic connections (and providers) become available this price should drop but if you want the fastest Internet around, this is your first choice.
Time Warner vs Fios: Who Wins?
In the TWC vs Verizon Internet battle, it’s hard to call a clear winner. Bottom line? If you want the familiarity of cable combined with low prices and a range of Internet plans, pick TWC. If speed is your goal and you don’t mind the occasional hiccups that come with a new service like Fios, go with Verizon but be prepared for the cost.