Competition is a great thing. One of the biggest benefits consumers have to gain when companies start to compete is advances in technology.
For the past decade, there has been an interesting dance between cable and traditional telephone companies, each side delving into the realm that used to be the sole domain of the other. This has brought better service to both of their customers, and technology (such as high-definition television sets) has been advancing to keep pace with the battle.
In the biggest salvo, cable companies began offering digital phone service over the telephone companies’ lines sine the late 1990s, according to BusinessWeek Magazine. This service, along with providing high-speed Internet and digital cable television service, pushed cable companies to the lead in providing the best and fastest service available.
But since the mid-2000s, the telephone companies began pushing back in a big way with fiber optic technology. Companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are now providing their services over fiber optic lines, and fighting back with their own cable and high-speed Internet services.
Cable companies have a small advantage as their products and services are available almost everywhere in the United States, save for only the most rural of areas. On the other hand, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS, and Comcast XFINITY services are relatively new. They have only been launched in larger markets. U-verse Internet is showing signs of strength and growth, launching new cities seemingly every quarter. However, there have been reports that FiOS is cutting back on its plans to roll out to the entire United States.
However, where fiber optics excels is in its performance. As light travels faster than electricity, and can support more data over greater distances, fiber optic networks have the clear advantage over standard cable. More can be done in one household over a fiber optic line (such as AT&T U-verse providing a wireless connection to multiple pieces of equipment) than can be done with a traditional cable.
Most likely, fiber optics will triumph over standard cable, much the same way digital broadcasting has completely abolished the analog signal system. However, the most likely scenario will be that cable companies will do away with the far more expensive and slower copper-based coaxial system and eventually replace it with fiber optics. This would be another example of the competition in the market place providing better service and products for everyone.