As Australia moves closer toward a future where everyone has access to ultra-fast and reliable broadband, more citizens by the day are asking what, if any, is the difference between ADSL cable and fibre broadband. It’s clear that much of the world has already accepted fibre as the up and coming standard, but what exactly are the differences between the two and which represents the preferable choice for the modern web user?


Well, right off the bat the biggest and most important difference of all is undoubtedly that of speed. ADSL – aka cable broadband – is quick enough for most purposes and offers speeds in the region of 16Mbps. This is of course the maximum speed possible and rarely the actual speed most users end up gaining access to – national and regional averages vary, but something in the region of 8Mbps is about the best to hope for on average.

By contrast, fibre broadband has the potential to take things way further than this with speeds up to ten or fifteen-times faster than cable. It is often advertised that fibre internet can deliver data transfer speeds of up to 152Mbps, but again this isn’t the exact speed delivered to most users. Instead, the average varies between around 30Mbps and 100Mbps, depending on the provider, the area and the service package chosen by then subscriber.

Costs and Availability

So it’s pretty much a clean sweep for fibre in terms of performance – the fact that it’s yet to take over as standard serves as evidence that costs and/or availability still aren’t quite up to scratch…at least in a mainstream sense. Indeed this is exactly that case as while costs have been coming down for quite some time, fibre remains a distinctly more expensive commodity in most regions than cable broadband. Cable broadband providers have begun offering bargain basement packages for no more than a few bucks a month (on top of line rental) which given the decent speeds on offer have generally proved irresistible for most.
In terms of availability, fibre is yet to make its way across the country in any convincing sense, though is the core focus of the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN). It’s likely to be some time before affordable super-fast broadband is a standard on-tap commodity across the country, but the NBN insists it will happen over the coming years.


So the conclusion is essentially a simple one – fibre is the vastly superior option in terms of power and performance, though for the time being remains somewhat behind cable in terms of adoption rates.