What is a good internet speed?

Camryn Smith

Apr 12, 2024 — 7 min read

Broadband internet is defined as 100 Mbps download speed, but what is considered a good internet speed depends on your household size and internet activities.

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Basically, if you live with one or two others, use your email daily and stream some shows, then 100 Mbps would suit you. You need at least 300 Mbps if you have a larger household working and learning from home, using multiple smart devices and doing other internet-related activities. The larger your household and amount of heavy internet users, the faster speed you need.

Next to price, internet speed is one of the main decision drivers when shopping for internet plans or evaluating your current internet service. But, unlike price – where you can easily look at the monthly cost and say “that fits my budget” or “that’s a new car payment” – internet speeds can be a bit trickier to gauge.

What is a good internet speed?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) increased the broadband speed standard from 25 Mbps in download speed and 3 Mbps in upload speed to 100/20 in March 2024.

The FCC’s 100/20 Mbps standard supports online activity like streaming, online gaming, web browsing and downloading music.

Good internet speeds also have low latency and high bandwidth. This combo allows data to be quickly transferred in a set amount of time.

Keep in mind many things can affect actual internet speeds and performance. Adding connected devices and using the internet for demanding tasks such as streaming in 4K or downloading an HD movie can hinder performance and make even “fast” speeds seem slow.

Explaining the difference between download and upload internet speeds

What is a good download speed?

100 Mbps is considered the minimum download speed needed to be deemed a broadband connection, but it’s likely you will need more, especially if you have multiple people in your household using devices simultaneously. 

As the demand for more speed increases, most larger ISPs start their speed plans around 200 to 300 Mbps, like Spectrum, AT&T and Xfinity.

What is a good upload speed?

When looking at ISP’s upload speeds, it’s common for them to be lower than the advertised download speeds. Most ISPs offer these lower upload speeds since users spend much more time downloading than uploading, but upload speed is still important.

What is considered fast internet?

Internet download speeds of 200 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload or higher are considered fast. With median speeds around 210/23 Mbps, the bar for fast internet is higher than ever. Average internet speeds have been on the rise in America. Anything over 200 Mbps will be able to handle multiple online activities for multiple users at once without interruption. If you need a little help determining the best internet speeds for your needs, we’ve got you covered.

Common fast internet speed tiers include:

  • 200 Mbps
  • 250 Mbps
  • 300 Mbps
  • 400 Mbps
  • 500 Mbps
  • 1,000 Mbps
  • 2,000 Mbps
  • 5,000 Mbps

Cable internet and fiber optic internet are your best bets for fast internet speeds. Fiber is also a great choice for speed consistency, as it is less vulnerable than cable to slower speeds during peak usage times.

Popular cable ISPs include Xfinity, Cox and Spectrum. Popular fiber providers include Frontier, AT&T and Verizon Fios. Check out the most popular cable and fiber internet speeds to help you choose the right plan for your needs.

What are fast download speeds?

If your main concern with your internet connection is speed, then looking for a fast download speed is important. While you can get by with the basic download speeds we mentioned above, any speeds from 200 – 5,000 Mbps and higher are considered fast download speeds. Some ISPs fastest speed tiers fall within the gigabit and multi-gigabit range with speeds from 1 Gbps to 8,000 Gbps in some cases. 

Most people don’t need speeds this high, but if you have a large household with many people partaking in high-bandwidth activities at the same time, these speeds could be worth it.  

What are fast upload speeds?

Most households can get by with good upload speeds of 10 – 20 Mbps. But what are fast upload speeds? Fiber internet providers usually offer symmetrical download and upload speeds, which is extremely fast considering some speed tiers can get as high as 8,000 Mbps. When looking at normal upload speeds of 10 – 20 Mbps, even 100 Mbps of upload speed can be considered fast. 

What is considered slow internet?

Download speeds less than 100 Mbps are too slow to be considered broadband or good home Wi-Fi. With these speeds, users may experience buffering when streaming video, difficulty connecting multiple devices and other internet connectivity issues.

The FCC does recommend speeds less than 100 Mbps for many online activities, including streaming SD and HD video, gaming online and downloading music. However, these are minimum speed recommendations and do not account for connecting multiple devices or other factors that may slow your internet speeds.

What types of internet connections are more likely to be slower?

Some internet technology will always be on the slow side. If you’re considering one of the following connection types, expect slower speeds than cable or fiber.

  • Dial-up: Regardless of the internet activity, dial-up is considered slow internet because it can only offer speeds up to 56 kbps. These speeds aren’t capable of much more than checking email and will not support streaming, online gaming, Wi-Fi or even uploading a single webpage in a reasonable amount of time.
  • DSL: DSL is the most common internet service type with speeds lower than 25 Mbps. Some cable internet services offer slow speeds as a low-cost internet option but are often capable of providing much higher speeds for a higher monthly cost.
  • Fixed wireless: Fixed wireless is a popular internet solution in rural areas. It uses broadcast towers to transmit and receive internet signals. Depending on provider and location, speeds can vary from 200 to 1,000 Mbps.
  • Satellite: Generally only used in rural areas with no other internet options, satellite internet is typically slow, expensive and comes with low data caps. However, newer satellite providers like Starlink are starting to provide speeds as fast as 500 Mbps in some areas, plus unlimited data.

Our recommendation for internet speeds

Choosing the right internet speed for your home can be a tricky process. When you add up how much speed each activity uses — 5 Mbps for HD Netflix, 2 Mbps for Zoom and 8 Mbps for online gaming — it looks like you can get by with a minimum plan. However, there are a few other factors you’ll want to consider.

  • Get double what you need – When you see an internet speed listed with a provider, they’re always showing you what the speed will be through a wired connection. But almost everyone uses the internet over Wi-Fi, which generally only provides 50-60% of the advertised speed on a plan. If you only go with the minimum speeds recommended for your internet activities, you’ll probably run into some issues.
  • Account for multiple devices – Most speed recommendations are for a single device, but almost every household now has multiple connected devices working simultaneously, which will share bandwidth. If you have two devices operating at once on a 100 Mbps connection, for instance, that bandwidth will be split evenly among the devices, with each getting speeds up to 50 Mbps.
  • Follow the 20 Mbps rule – A good rule of thumb is to dedicate 20 Mbps to each device that will be using the internet at the same time. If you have four people using smartphones, one TV streaming Netflix and another online gaming, an internet connection of 100 Mbps should be fine. (Add about 5 Mbps for every 10 smart home devices.)
  • Do you need a plan over 1000 Mbps? The average internet user who browses, shops, streams and checks emails really doesn’t need a gig’s worth of internet speed. If you work or learn from home, game, stream in HD, or have a smart-device equipped home with multiple residents doing the same, then, yes, a 1000 Mbps connection is what you need to keep everything running smoothly.

How much of a difference does a good internet speed make?

Small speed increments, such as 15 to 25 Mbps, likely won’t result in a noticeable difference in performance, but larger jumps, say 10 to 100 Mbps, can give you a different experience.

To give you an idea of how much speed can play a role in downloading and uploading, we’ve listed the estimated time it would take to download a two-hour HD movie and upload a 10-minute video with various speeds below.

How long does it take to download a movie?

File sizes for things like music, movies and pictures vary, but a movie can range from 1 to 7 GB depending on the length and picture quality. Here’s how long it would take in hours:minutes:seconds to download a 4 GB file at various speeds.

Comparison of download times at different internet download speed tiers for a 4 gigabit file

How long does it take to upload a short video?

Video files vary in size, but let’s say you have a 500 MB clip, which could amount to 10 minutes or more in standard definition. Here’s an estimate of how long it would take to upload it with various upload speeds.

Keep in mind, upload speeds from internet providers are often significantly lower than download speeds. Some fiber-optic providers, however, do offer upload speeds comparable to their advertised download speeds.

Comparison of video upload times over various internet download speed tiers for a 500 megabit video

These download and upload times are estimates based on a constant speed. As mentioned above, there are many factors, such as the number of connected devices and types of internet activities performed, that can affect internet speeds and the time it takes to perform a given task.

Take a speed test to see if your internet is fast enough for your needs

Your speed test results:

Download Speeds

888 Mbps

Upload Speeds

88 Mbps

Need more for the price?

Try these helpful hacks to improve your internet speed. Or if you just want more bang for your buck, check out providers near you with more speed for the price. Either way, we’ll help you find what you need.

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Pro Tip: For best results, use an Ethernet cord to connect your router or modem directly to your device before you run the test.

An internet speed test will give you a good idea of whether or not you have the necessary speeds for your household. For best results, take the speed test with a wired connection. If you get speeds below 25 Mbps, you may have a slow internet connection that can’t keep up with all your online activity.

If you have slow internet, there may be other internet providers in your area that offer faster speeds. Or, your current internet provider may offer plans with higher speeds. Shop around to find a faster internet speed if your current provider and plan doesn’t offer the speeds you need.

Shop internet providers, plans and speeds in your area with our internet experts. We’ll help you find and compare plans with good internet speeds for your home and unique needs.

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Camryn Smith

Written by:

Camryn Smith

Cammy is a writer with Allconnect, growing her broadband industry knowledge for over a year on the internet marketplace. Her expertise lies in home internet and broadband service with a focus on providers, plans… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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