Is cable internet a good choice for my business?

After reading this article, you will better understand coax or cable Internet technology and the considerations when choosing coax for your business.

What is Cable Internet?

Cable internet, a form of broadband internet service, utilizes the same coaxial cable network that delivers cable television to provide internet access. This technology transmits data using a combination of fiber-optic and coaxial cables. Unlike DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), which uses telephone lines, and satellite internet, which requires a satellite dish, cable internet offers a middle ground regarding technology and performance. It’s often compared with fiber-optic internet, a service known for its high-speed capabilities. However, while fiber-optic is praised for its fast speeds and reliability, it’s not as widely available as cable internet. This comparison highlights the significance of understanding different internet services to determine the most suitable option for your business.

Is Coax Internet Good? Here’s the Good features of the technology

  • Wider Availability: Cable internet is more widely available than fiber-optic internet. Cable-based Internet is available in nearly every Canadian city and business park. This accessibility makes it a convenient option for many businesses that might not have access to fiber-optic internet.
  • Potential for Bundled Services: Many cable internet providers offer packages that include internet, phone, and cable TV services. This can be economical for businesses looking to consolidate their service providers and potentially reduce overall costs.
  • Cost: Regarding cost, cable internet is often considered a middle-ground option. It’s usually cheaper than fiber-optic, 5G Internet, or microwave Wireless. But it can be more expensive than DSL. The pricing will vary depending on the provider, plan speed, and additional services included. However, it’s essential to consider the long-term cost benefits. For example, a slightly more expensive plan that offers better reliability and speed might save a business money in the long run by reducing downtime and improving productivity.
  • Download speeds: (measured in Gigabits per second) can reach over 1 Gbps, which is plenty for any small or medium business today. Cable internet is known for offering a wide range of speed options, catering to different needs. Speeds can range from 10 Mbps to over 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps), though these can vary based on the provider and location. Regarding reliability, cable internet is generally consistent, but it can be subject to slowdowns during peak usage times due to the shared bandwidth in neighborhoods.
  • Data Caps: often, no data caps on a coaxial service means predictable monthly costs.
  • Scalability is another significant advantage of cable internet. As businesses grow, their internet needs often change. Many cable internet providers offer flexible plans that can be scaled up to meet increasing demands without requiring a complete infrastructure overhaul. This flexibility allows businesses to upgrade their service as they expand, ensuring their internet capabilities keep pace with their growth.

Is Coax Internet Bad? Here’s the bad aspects of the technology 

  • Copper cable systems degrade over time: coax or copper cable systems are often old and subject to frequent outages. As they age, the connections and cable quality continually worsen at transmitting signals. Some providers are still building and installing new copper-based cable networks around Canadian cities. These newer cable networks are less susceptible to service outages or degradation. But in rural Canada or older business parks, it’s more common to see aged cable networks. In rural and remote Canada, you may need to look at technology like Starlink Internet.
  • Weather: Rain, temperature swings, or extreme cold can affect cable or connection quality.
  • Service-level agreement: Poor performance can be problematic because cable-based internet often does not have a service-level agreement (SLA). A SLA guarantees services are restored when a problem or outage occurs.  If the thought of an internet outage keeps you up at night – you either need to buy reliable Internet service with an SLA or buy Internet from multiple service providers.
Cable Internet or Coax
  • Shared Bandwith: Coax Internet is a “best-effort” or shared infrastructure service. This means your service is likely “up to X00Mbps”. It also means you may share the infrastructure with the whole business park and the nearby community. If your business operates simultaneously with the nearby community that relies on the same central office, you may have problems getting the capacity your business needs.
  • Latency: Another downside can be latency or the time data takes from your office to its destination. Latency may be slower than a dedicated Fiber service, depending on how “busy” or over-subscribed your area’s network is. You could get something called jitter in old cable plants or data networks. If the latency is inconsistent, it will create a Jitter, where your data arrives at its destination in a different order than it was sent. Jitter can create negative business implications like poor call quality.

Business considerations

Now that you understand the technology’s upsides and downsides, how does that relate to my (your) business?

Widely available: The business implication of this, you can move your business all over the city, have multiple offices, and expect the service to be available where you need it.

Quick Install: Sometimes, you don’t have 3-6 months to plan a new office. If you need space for people now, a 1-2 week install has positive business implications.

High Download Capacity: Your team can do large downloads quickly. Tasks like updating a car’s software from the dealer cloud, downloading a 300-page RFP, or streaming video for clients will be easy; you’ll have more than enough bandwidth.

Limited upload capacity: With limited upload capacity, your cloud backups could take days, your remote offices may not be able to access files, or applications like Sharepoint could be slow and clunky.

Weather-related downtime: This is unique to each business, but downtime likely means lost productivity for your team.

Jitter or latency issues: These could cause business problems if you expect to implement services like IP phones or Cloud applications. This affects communication, which to many businesses is core to revenue generation. 

Contract length: You will likely be on a shorter or “month-to-month” contract for your service. This keeps your options open as new technology becomes available.

Questions to Ask Potential Providers about Cable Internet

When choosing an internet service provider (ISP), asking the right questions is important to ensure you’re getting a service that meets your business needs. Here’s a checklist of key questions:

  • What Speeds Are Available?: Inquire about the different speed options and whether they are consistent even during peak usage times.
  • Are There Any Data Caps or Limitations?: Some ISPs may have data usage caps or limitations, which can be a concern for businesses with high data usage.
  • What is the Cost and Contract Terms?: Understand the pricing structure, including any additional fees, and the terms of the contract.
  • What Kind of Support and Service Guarantees Are Offered?: Reliable customer support is crucial for businesses. Ask about the ISP’s customer service and any service level agreements (SLAs) they offer.
  • Is There Room for Scalability?: Ensure that the ISP can accommodate your business’s growth with scalable service options.
  • How Does the ISP Handle Security and Privacy?: Understand the measures the ISP takes to protect your business’s data and privacy.

Asking these questions can help you gauge whether a particular ISP and their cable internet offerings are well-suited to your business needs.

 Cable Internet Technological Advancements

I won’t go in-depth into the technology, but you should know that coaxial Internet delivers Internet over an insulated copper cable with a copper shield. When compared to twisted pair copper, there is a significant difference. Coax insulates the signal between your inbound and outbound data, allowing for increased speed and reliability. 

The large copper core in a coax cable can transfer large amounts of data in one direction.

The landscape of cable internet is continually evolving, driven by technological advancements. Upcoming improvements in this domain are likely to enhance speed, reliability, and overall performance, which can significantly benefit businesses. For instance, the development of DOCSIS 4.0 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) promises to boost cable internet speeds to compete with fiber-optic services. This advancement is particularly relevant for businesses that require high-speed internet but are located in areas where fiber is not available.

Additionally, ongoing innovations in network management and optimization are expected to address some of the current limitations of cable internet, such as bandwidth congestion during peak times. These improvements could lead to more consistent and reliable internet services for businesses.

CableLabs discusses the development of DOCSIS 4.0 technology, highlighting how it makes upgrading existing hybrid fiber coax networks a cost-effective and competitive option compared to more expensive fiber upgrades. This information can be particularly relevant to businesses considering cable internet as an alternative to fiber

The way businesses use the internet is also changing. With the rise of cloud computing, remote work, and digital collaboration tools, the demand for high-speed, reliable internet has never been greater. As businesses continue to embrace these digital trends, the role of internet service providers, including those offering cable internet, becomes increasingly crucial.

Moreover, the integration of IoT (Internet of Things) devices in business operations is on the rise, which requires robust and reliable internet connections. Cable internet providers will likely continue adapting their services to meet these emerging needs, ensuring businesses have the necessary connectivity to operate efficiently and innovate.


Now that you’ve read this guide, you’re better equipped to choose an Internet solution.

For any small to medium business, if you have a quality cable-based internet service available, it is a hard thing to pass up.

If technology and growth are critical to your business, consider fiber-optic Internet options too.  

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Michael is the main author and Editor on the InternetAdvice blog. With a decade of experience under his belt, Michael stands at the forefront of the telecommunications industry. As a Senior Telecom Strategist, Michael has witnessed firsthand the rapid advancements in technology and has been an integral part of pioneering efforts in the adoption of cutting-edge telecom solutions across Canada.

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