When it comes to the internet there’s one four-letter word no one wants to hear: slow. In today’s world, speed is everything. You have places to be, games to win, Netflix to watch—and no time to waste (unless it’s couch time in sweats, but that’s your call).
So what is considered high-speed internet, anyway? Internet speed is measured in Mbps, or megabits per second. The higher the Mbps, the faster the internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set the standard for broadband internet at 25 Mbps for download speeds, and 3 Mbps for upload.
To be considered “high speed” your download speed should be higher than the 25 Mbps standard, ranging anywhere from 100 to 1,000 Mbps. How much speed you need to maintain a fast connection depends largely on what activities you do online and how many people and devices use the same connection.
What are Common Uses for High-Speed Internet?
High-speed internet sounds appealing, but do you actually need it? If you live alone or in a small household and use the internet for social media, online shopping, light streaming, and sending emails, high-speed internet might not be necessary.
Minimum Download Speed Requirements
- Browsing and email: 1 Mbps
- Casual online gaming: 5 Mbps
- Video streaming: 10 Mbps
- Music streaming: 1 Mbps
Minimum Upload Speed Requirements
- Browsing and email: 3–4 Mbps
- Casual online gaming: 1 Mbps
- Video streaming: 0.5 Mbps
- Music streaming: 0.25 Mbps
All the speeds above meet the minimum requirements for internet and don’t require higher speeds. Once you add more devices, four or more users, or internet-heavy activities like streaming, gaming, multiparty video conferencing, and telecommuting, your bandwidth requirements increase.
When to Consider High-Speed Internet
- Four or more users
- Multiple devices
- Competitive gaming
- Multiparty video conferencing
- Multi-device video streaming
- 4K/HD video streaming
- Large file downloads
- Uploading videos to YouTube
If you’re a competitive gamer, high-speed internet is especially important. You’ll want a minimum of 100 Mbps download speed to prevent lagging if you live in a household with several gamers. Read this gaming guide for more specifics on what speed is right for you.
What’s the Difference Between Broadband and High-Speed Internet?
Broadband and high-speed internet mean more or less the same thing. Broadband is the term for a connection that can process a lot of data at the same time. High-speed internet can transfer even more data. If broadband is a one-lane street, high-speed internet is a multi-lane highway.
That said, there are multiple forms of internet connections, and they’re not all created equal.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) uses phone lines to transmit data and is naturally slower than other connections since it is sensitive to longer distances.
Satellite internet is faster than DSL, but it’s still subject to interference from bad weather and clouds. Cable internet is generally fast and uses a built-in cable infrastructure, but it often slows down at peak times when multiple users are on at once.
The best high-speed internet is fiber-optic internet, which uses ultra-thin fiber-optic cables to transmit data at nearly the speed of light. Fiber is best for competitive gaming since it has equal upload and download speeds—as fast as 1 gig or 1,000 Mbps.
How Do I Know if I Need High-Speed Internet?
If you can’t stream a video without buffering and the rainbow spinning wheel of death is an everyday occurrence, chances are your internet is too slow. Before you upgrade your internet plan, here are a few steps you should take first:
- First, test your internet speed. Use this tool to check just how fast your internet is and get a custom quote for the best speed for your household.
- Second, read this article on five tips to improve your internet speed to make sure there aren’t external factors (such as poor router placement or malware) slowing you down.
- Third, if you want to learn more about internet speeds and how they work, check out this comprehensive internet speeds guide—you’ll be an expert in no time.
Is High-Speed Internet Available in My Area?
Ready for an upgrade? Fiber-optic internet is known for speed and widely available across the US. Check here to see what high-speed internet plans are available near you.