Mbps vs. Gbps: Do You Need Gigabit Internet?

Brianne Sandorf
Dec 13, 2023
Icon Time To Read2 min read

Do you need gigabit internet?

No. Roll credits.

Okay, the answer is more complicated than that. Few people need a full gigabit, but some do. And folks who don't strictly need it may still want it, and that's okay.

Let’s dive into the details.

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If you want gigabit internet (or any internet), we can help you find it in your area.

Who needs gigabit internet?

Most people do not need gigabit internet, but if you have a large family, an excessive number of smart home devices (especially cameras), or a media-rich profession or hobby (think videography or high-resolution video games), it might be worth it to you.

Even if you can justify gigabit download speeds, you probably don't need gigabit upload speeds—which is good, because most internet plans won't offer them. (Although some will, in the name of symmetrical speeds.)

But even if gigabit internet isn’t strictly a need for you, you may have reasons to want it. With gigabit internet, you’re all but guaranteed to have constant fast internet service, even if you’re watching a continuous stream of 4K content on the TV while your spouse takes an hour-long video call and your kids play online games. And if you entertain large crowds, gigabit speed may guarantee that everyone can use your home network without causing a lag.

If gigabit internet suits your needs or calls your name, here are a few of the top providers we recommend.

Best gigabit internet providers
Service
Price
Download speed
Connection type
Details
Xfinity Internet$25-$80*200-1200 MbpsCable/Fiber
AT&T Fiber$55–$225300-5000 MbpsFiber
Verizon Fios Home Internet$49.99-$89.99300-2300 MbpsFiber
Spectrum Internet®$19.99-$89.9930-1000 Mbps^Cable
Optimum Internet$30-$265°300-8000 MbpsCable/Fiber
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Pricing for some packages are for the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes $ fees. Limited availability. May not be available in your area.
Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
^ Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.
° Prices w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Terms apply. Not available in all areas.

Who needs high-speed internet?

If you don’t need a gigabit internet connection, how about high-speed internet? We think nearly everyone needs high speed.

Before you decry us for our extravagance, understand that high-speed internet is 25Mbps or more. That’s not that fast (and, therefore, not that expensive).

However, 25Mbps alone may or may not suit your needs. If you live with more than one other person, work from home, are a smart-home fiend, or love to consume high-res media, you probably need more. More on that in a minute.

Even if you signed up for fast speeds, you may not be getting them—not all providers and plans deliver on the promised maximum speed (or, sadly, minimum speed). Luckily, we have an easy way to check how fast your internet plan really is: a speed test.

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Your speed is faster than of our speed test results

Done with the test? If you got a slower speed than expected, it might be time to switch.

Need more info before you take that leap? Don’t worry; here are the deets on some of the best high-speed internet service providers.

Best high-speed internet providers
Service
Price
Download speed
Connection type
Details
Xfinity Internet$25-$80*200-1200 MbpsCable/Fiber
Google Fiber$70-$150**1000-8000 MbpsFiber
Verizon Fios Home Internet$49.99-$89.99300-2300 MbpsFiber
Cox Internet$9.95-$149.99††100-2000 MbpsCable
Spectrum Internet®$19.99-$89.9930-1000 Mbps^Cable
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Pricing for some packages are for the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
** Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
†† Prices exclude taxes, surcharges, usage-based charges, certain equipment, and other fees or charges, which are subject to change.
^ Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

Need some help with the numbers in the table? 1,000Mbps is the equivalent of 1Gbps. So for instance, Verizon Fios Home Internet speeds go up to 2,300Mbps, which is 2.3Gbps.

You’ll notice some of these internet solutions, like Google Fiber and Verizon Fios, offer fiber. A fiber connection is one of the easiest ways to get a crazy-fast internet speed. However, fiber internet is more difficult to find since it requires previously installed fiber optic cable in your area.

What internet speed is right for you?

Still undecided on whether you need a gig? What about whether you need more than 25Mbps?

Here’s a chart from our internet speed guide to help you figure things out.

Internet speed capabilities
Internet speed
Recommended # of people
Recommended # of devices
Activities
5–25 Mbps1–21–5Casual web browsing, emails, social media, streaming SD video, streaming music
25–50 Mbps2–44–7Streaming HD and 4K video, streaming music, online gaming, light working from home
50–100 Mbps4–67–10Streaming 4K video, online gaming, working from home, using home security devices
100–500 Mbps6+10+Streaming 4K video, online gaming, running a home office, using home security and smart home devices
500–1,000 Mbps10+15+Running a home office or creative profession, streaming in 4K, live streaming, online gaming, using home security and smart home devices

FAQ

Still have a question? Maybe we can answer it here.

We see no problem with using an Ethernet connection with your gigabit internet service. That undroppable wired connection guarantees you’ll get maximum speed.

But part of the charm of gigabit is using multiple devices at once, and not all devices can realistically plug into an Ethernet port. You don’t want to camp next to the modem when using your phone or tablet, and it’s unlikely that your internet hardware will be situated to allow security cameras to plug in.

In summary, you can enjoy fast Ethernet through gigabit internet service, just in moderation.

It’s confusing, but a gigabit (Gb) is different from a gigabyte (GB), which is what you use to measure phone storage.

A gigabit is smaller than a gigabyte by far, but Wi-Fi speed is measured in gigabits per second, while phone data is measured in plain old gigabytes. That means that with a gigabit internet connection, you have an entire gig of data at your disposal every second. But with a gigabyte of phone data, that single GB is the sum of media available to you over your billing period. So in the long run, a gigabit internet connection provides way more data than a gigabyte phone plan.

We think phone data limits are bogus, so we recommend an unlimited plan if you can swing it. But if that’s not in the (sim) cards, connecting your phone to your gig internet will help you save on data!

Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf
Brianne has a degree in English and creative writing from Westminster College and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Before joining Reviews.org, she wrote safety and security content for ASecureLife.com. Her pieces and quotes are published across the web, including on MSN.com, Social Catfish, and Parents.com. Hobbies include wearing a seatbelt, wearing a life jacket, and keeping her arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Contact her at brianne@reviews.org.

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