By:  Bob Reiss

Not all cabling is created equal.

While Fiber optic and Ethernet cabling have been a mainstay for new developments and rewires in multifamily, coax is more prevalent in existing communities across the country. Due to its wide availability and potential for upgrades, coax still has its place.

Fiber optic is decisively the fastest – with capabilities of 100 Gbps (100,000 Mbps) depending on your location/network and devices/equipment. Ethernet by comparison may provide 10 Gbps and is widely used in managed Wi-Fi deployments today. Despite these capabilities Service Providers generally offer consumers, your residents, 1-2 Gbps options today.

Coax provides similar access to 1-2 Gbps internet service, and the expectation is continued enhancement as the marketplace demands.  In fact, some providers have already done market testing of symmetrical multi-gig and 6 Gbps speeds as early as Q4 2022 using coax cable. There’s clearly good economic reasons to maintain and upgrade coax systems and invest in new technology like DOCSIS 4.0+, Managed Wi-Fi leveraging coax to reduce capex, and other Hybrid-Fiber-Coax solutions.

  • Coax has by far the largest market share, being the most common home run wire type in existing communities.
  • Leveraging existing coax for Managed Wi-Fi and other deployments can result in the least intrusive upgrades from a resident perspective.
  • Coax is commonly used as the “last mile” where Service Providers use fiber from their central office locations to your neighborhoods, jumping onto coax only at or within your property.
  • Possibly the most durable home run wire type due to its longevity – reducing potential rewire or breakage costs to property owner.
  • To a lesser extent, coax continues to be relevant to populations who desire traditional cable television options.

There are certainly limitations to coax – we are mindful during overbuild/rewire projects and our review of wiring plans – but where fiber or ethernet isn’t cost-effective or feasible for our client, coax can be a suitable choice.

It’s our nature to draw comparisons.  Is Fiber like a Formula 1 car to coax’s F-150?  Maybe.  It remains to be seen what the future holds as demand for faster internet continues to grow.  However, it is likely as demand rises, we will see more Service Providers choosing to rewire communities vs using existing cabling. RealtyCom will be here to advise and assist when that happens with the technological and financial implications to your assets.

If you have questions about how RealtyCom can assist you with your portfolio, please email us at