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Verizon Fios Coax vs Ethernet – Which Connection to Use

Verizon Fios has been around for a number of years now. Fios is a 100% fiber optic service that provides TV, Internet, and Phone service to residential customers. Verizon Fios currently has a relatively small footprint with service primarily on the east cost in major cities. Where they to provide service, they consistently rank near the top for customer satisfaction.

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Verizon Fios uses a fiber to the home connection to provide service. The optical fiber gets terminated in a special optical network terminal (ONT) device. This is a device that Verizon will install either outside of your home on in the basement. This is what converts the optical signal from the fiber network into something usable for the home.

Fios Ethernet vs Coax

How Does the ONT Connect to Your Router

There are two different options that can be used for connecting the ONT device to your router. The first option is using coaxial cable. This was the standard way that Fios was installed for many years and still remains an option in many cases. Using the coax output from the ONT allows for the use of the homes existing coax wiring and eliminates the need to run an ethernet cable from the ONT to the router.

The other option for connecting the ONT to your router is using ethernet. This would be in the form of a Cat5e+ cable. Most newer Fios installs are done using ethernet. This allows for higher speeds. The current limit for Fios using coax is 100 Mbps. This is due to the underlying MoCA technology used by the ONT device.

Given that the lowest Fios plan that currently gets sold to new customers is 300 Mbps. The use of ethernet to connect the ONT to your router has became standard practice. There are still some edge cases where running an ethernet cables simply isn’t possible and the existing coaxial wiring must be used. This means that the connection will be limited to 100 Mbps.

Verizon Fios ONT

Pros Of Using Coax to Connect to Verizon Fios ONT

  1. Ability to use existing coaxial wiring in building.
  2. Ability to use coaxial cable for both TV and internet service.

If you live in an older build or rent the building, it may not be possible to have an ethernet cable ran from the ONT to wherever your router is going to be located. In these situations using the existing coaxial cable already in place is a great option. This is really the number one reason that the coax option even exists. It is a matter of convenience over performance.

The other reason is to simplify the process of setting up Verizon Fios TV service. By using MoCa via coax, your DVR / set top boxes are able to retrieve their necessary signals via the internet. This include updating the TV guide and accessing video on demand content.

If you opt for getting Fios TV and internet, you will need to use the coax for TV. If you use the coax for your internet as well you will not need to have ethernet cable ran.

Cons of using Coax to Connect to Verizon Fios ONT

  1. Download speeds will be limited to 100 Mbps.
  2. Upload speeds will be limited to 100 Mbps.
  3. You will not be getting the bandwidth you are paying for.
  4. Your connection latency may be slightly higher.
  5. Your connection stability may be slightly lower.
  6. You must use their router.

As you can probably tell from reading the cons, most Fios installs these days are done using ethernet. The use of coax will limit both your download and upload speeds to 100 Mbps. Actual speeds will actually be slightly less than 100 Mbps.

Given that the lowest Fios plan currently offers up to 300 Mbps using the coax option means that you are only getting 1/3 of the bandwidth you are paying for. For this reason using ethernet is a better option if at all possible.

Using the coax connection means there is an extra signal conversion taking place. This will often add a few milliseconds to your latency (ping). This is especially important to gamers and users who use applications such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Real time communications benefit greatly from the lowest latency possible.

Additionally you will have to use their provided router if you want to use the coax option. It has MoCA technology built in to it to make the connection to the ONT. If you use ethernet you can use virtually any router you would like. Generally using your own router will give you the best performance possible.

Fios Router

Pros Of Using Ethernet to Connect to Verizon Fios ONT

  1. Speeds of up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) is possible.
  2. Your connection will have the lowest latency and highest stability possible.
  3. You can use your own router.

When you use ethernet to connect your router to the ONT you will get the maximum speeds possible. This means up to 1 Gbps download and upload speeds. Given that the lowest Fios plan offers 300 Mbps of bandwidth, it makes sense to not artificially limit it to 100 Mbps by using coax.

Using ethernet also means one less signal conversion and potentially a more stable connection. If you use VoIP applications or play online games, this will especially matter to you.

Finally you also get the option of using your own router if you choose the ethernet option. This is great since the router provided by most internet service providers leave much to be desired in terms of both performance and functionality.

Whenever possible I would always recommend getting your own router vs using the router offered by your ISP.

Speed Test Fios

Cons of using Ethernet to Connect to Verizon Fios ONT

  1. May require running an ethernet cable through your building.
  2. Complicates the set up of Fios TV.

If you are getting Fios installed for the first time, you may need to have an ethernet cable ran through your building from where your router is going to be located back to where the ONT is installed. This is often not as big of an issue as it sounds.

However, if you are renting it will likely require permission from the building owner. It is also sometimes difficult in older historic buildings to run new wiring without substantial effort. This could be cost prohibitive depending on the buildings construction.

If you opt for Fios TV in addition to internet. You will need to use both the coax and the ethernet outputs from the ONT. This is because the TV service only works over coax. If you use the coax for internet you will not need to use both connections.

Fios Coax vs Ethernet Which is Best

Undoubtedly the best option for Fios is to use ethernet. This is why the vast majority of Fios installs are now made ethernet rather than coax. The use of coax limits you to 100 Mbps which is 1/3 of even the lowest Fios tier.

Unless you have a specific need for using coax to connect the ONT to your router, ethernet is the way to go, hands down.

Thinking about getting Verizon Fios? Check out our complete guide comparing Verizon Fios to Verizon 5G home internet.

Verizon Fios vs Verizon 5G Home Internet

If you have already determined that Fios is for you, click the link below to see the latest offers from Verizon. They are frequently running new promotions and you definitely want to lock in the best pricing, as internet service can get quite pricy, especially if you want the fastest speed tiers.

Latest Offers From Verizon Fios