What Is High-Speed Internet?

If you try Googling what is high-speed internet, you’ll likely come across the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) definition right away: anything above 25 Mbps. If you stopped to question that, you’re not alone.

Here’s something to keep in mind: the FCC came out with that definition back in 2015. As technology continues to grow, internet speeds easily reach new heights (anywhere between 100 and 1 Gbps). We’ll answer your questions about what high-speed internet is and how it works.

Quick look: The 5 fastest large internet providers in the US
ProviderMonthly priceDownload speedsLearn more
Google Fiber$70*1000 MbpsView Plans
Verizon Fios Home Internet$39.99$79.99200940 MbpsView Plans
RCN Internet$34.99$49.992501000 MbpsView Plans
Xfinity Internet$19.99$79.99^151000 MbpsView Plans
Grande Cable Internet$29.99$69.9950940 MbpsView Plans
Data effective 10/26/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Plus taxes and fees. Service not available in all areas.
w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.
For the first 12 months.
^ For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.

What is high-speed internet?

High-speed internet is really as simple as it sounds: super fast Wi-Fi. Right now, internet speed is more important than ever before. People spend 12 hours per day online, and with so many people still working from home, that number is steadily increasing.1

But before you start thinking the faster the internet, the easier the connection, here’s one clarification: faster internet just means that your device responds faster to your commands. When you click a link, the page is more likely to load, and you won’t sit staring at the spinning circle of doom for minutes on end.

Faster internet does not mean that more devices can connect to the Wi-Fi at once. If you want to connect your tablet, phone, laptop, thermostat, and refrigerator, then you’ll want greater bandwidth. Bandwidth is what allows you to have more devices working at the same time.

Do I need high-speed internet?

Typically, an internet speed of 100 to 200 Mbps and above is really good, especially for gamers and streaming videos. You’ll still be able to play Call of Duty: War Zone (with several people in the same house) without any issues.

If you’re working from home and spending a few hours in Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings, fast internet is a huge plus. You’re less likely to run into quality issues. Ever experience a meeting when the video itself lags but you still hear the audio from the call? It’s usually due to slow internet connection.

Here’s a chart for what you can do at various connection speeds, and we’ve got more recommendations in our guide to how much internet speed you need.

The speeds you need for online activities
SpeedAction
50–100 MbpsStreaming HD and 4K video, streaming music, gaming, working from home, using home security devices
100–200 MbpsStreaming 4K video, gaming, running a home office, using home security and smart home devices
200 Mbps and aboveRunning a home office or creative profession, streaming in 4K, gaming, using home security and smart home devices

When choosing the best Wi-Fi speed for you, think about how you use your connection. Someone who only checks email at home won’t need ultra-fast speed like the professional gamer. Narrow down what you use the internet for.

Keep in mind that whether you’re using 400 Mbps or 900 Mbps, most people in a normal home setting won’t notice a difference. Once you get above 200 to 300 Mbps, your Wi-Fi should be fast enough for every device in your house. However, it is likely you’ll notice a change when you go from using 50 Mbps to 200 Mbps.

How much does high-speed internet cost?

There are tons of internet service providers (ISPs) around, and they all offer different high-speed internet plans. Usually, the higher the speed, the more expensive the plan. Here’s a chart of a few common ISPs and their prices:

Prices for the 5 best internet providers in the US
ProviderMonthly priceDownload speedsConnection TypeLearn more
Xfinity Internet$19.99$79.99^151000 MbpsCable/FiberView Plans
Verizon Fios Home Internet$39.99$79.99200940 MbpsFiberView Plans
CenturyLink Internet$49$65°15940 MbpsDSL/FiberView Plans
AT&T Fiber$35$60**100940 MbpsFiberView Plans
Viasat Internet$30$150††12100 MbpsSatelliteView Plans
Data effective 11/04/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^ For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.
° New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.
** For the first 12 months plus taxes and equip. fee.
†† For the first 3 months.

It’s important to pay attention to the connection type. That lets you know what kind of internet you’re using. Satellite, cable, DSL, and others are all considered high-speed internet. Cable internet is usually not as expensive as satellite internet.

What hardware do I need for high speed internet?

The equipment really depends on the type of web connection you have. Remember, high-speed internet comes in all different forms (satellite, DSL, cable, etc.). If you have cable, then you need to have a DOCSIS modem. For satellite connection, there’s a dish receiver. Long story short, there’s no one-size-fits-all for high speed internet. It really depends on your connection type.

If you want to know more about what high-speed connections are available, check out this article about the best internet service providers. If you’d like to check individual reviews for Spectrum internet, Xfinity, or Verizon Fios Home Internet, we’ve got more info on those as well.

Now that you know about high-speed internet, check these out next.

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Additional reading:

Sources

  1. Denis Metev, “How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media?” November 21, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021.