What is a Good Internet Speed in 2022?

What is a good internet speed? Should you pay for the top plan a provider has to offer, or can you get by with a cheaper, slower plan?

To answer these questions, first, run an internet speed test to see how your current connection is performing. Then, take a speed quiz to see if those speeds match your lifestyle needs. If they’re not, it may be time to upgrade your service.

Below we break down how to assess your internet and find the optimal speed for your home.

Assessing Your Internet Speeds

To figure out what internet speed you need, it’s important to understand how internet speed is measured. Internet speed — most commonly measured in megabits per second (Mbps) — is how fast data can travel between your devices and the internet. 

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), broadband internet is defined as an internet plan with at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Download speed is the rate at which data passes from the internet to a device, and upload speed is the opposite.

Sometimes download and upload speeds are symmetrical (i.e. fiber internet plans), and sometimes they’re different (i.e DSL internet plans). Because most online activities involve downloading data, download speed is the speed that’s prioritized and advertised in internet plans.

Minimum Speed Requirements

How much internet speed you need depends on how members of your home use the internet. You should consider your home size and internet usage before settling on a plan.

The FCC provides broadband guidelines that outline the minimum speeds required for common internet activities like streaming or gaming online. Typically, these download speeds range anywhere from 1 Mbps – 25 Mbps.

Network Limits & Users

While 25 Mbps download is useable, it gets used up quickly when there is more than one person at home connecting devices. To figure out the bare minimum speeds you need, we recommend multiplying 25 Mbps by the number of users in your family.

The demand on your internet connection can add up very quickly. It is very important to take an inventory of your needs and devices when calculating the internet speed you need.

Things to Know When Shopping for Internet

Now that you have an idea of the minimum speeds you need in your home, it’s time to start shopping. Here are some factors to help set your expectations and consider before committing to an internet provider or plan.

Types of Internet

Each type of internet connection has its own nuances that will affect speed and performance. Availability of each really comes down to where you live, but usually, homes have at least two connections to choose from.

Fiber internet is the fastest and most stable type but is less available than cable internet and DSL. Satellite and fixed wireless internet are mostly convenient solutions, especially for those in rural areas, as they can go where wired connections can’t. Whichever one you choose, be sure to run a speed test regularly to check your network performance.

Advertised Speeds vs Actual Speeds

Depending on which plan you choose, you’ll be allotted a certain amount of bandwidth per month. Your bandwidth lets you know the maximum download speed available for your connection at any given time. However, the speed you actually experience on a day-to-day basis often varies.

Your actual speeds will almost always be lower than the advertised speeds by anywhere from 10-30%. If you experience speeds slower than this, we recommend reaching out to your internet provider to help troubleshoot.

Wired vs Wireless Connection

The advertised speed is based on a wired connection. The best way to achieve the advertised speed is by using an ethernet connection. Unlike a wireless connection, an ethernet link limits where you can be in your house if you want to access the internet. That’s why most users connect to the internet via a wireless connection using a WiFi router.

When picking a provider, make sure their service comes with WiFi capabilities. Also, know where your wired access points are in the house in case you ever need to connect directly to the source. These two options will provide very different speed results.

Picking the Right Internet Plan

Picking the right internet plan all comes down to how you use the internet and where you live. Once you test your internet speed and find out what your family needs, you can start your search for the best internet provider near you.

Differences in Internet Connection Types

In this guide, we cover the different types of internet, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and what you can expect from your specific plan.

Internet Connections at a Glance

There are six home internet connections available today: fiber, cable, DSL, satellite, fixed wireless, and 5G internet. So, how do you know which one to choose?

The main factor in this decision is unfortunately availability. Depending on where you live, there are most likely 2-3 different types of internet out there, but hardly ever all six.

Here is a table outlining what each internet connection type typically offers:

Internet TypeDownload Speed Range*Starting Price Range*% of US Pop. with Access**
Fiber100 – 10,000 Mbps$35.00 – $299.95/mo.40%
Cable25 – 1,000 Mbps$19.99 – $120.00/mo.88%
DSL10 – 150 Mbps$19.99 – $69.99/mo.89%
Satellite12 – 150 Mbps$49.99 – $99.00/mo.99%
Fixed Wireless5 – 50 Mbps$29.99 – $99.00/mo.43%
5G50 – 10,000 Mbps$50.00 – $70.00/mo.75%
*All speeds and prices are ranges based on current market plans, which vary by location and are subject to change.
**Percentages are based on the FCC internet availability data as of 7/21/22.

The Different Types of Internet

Fiber is the best internet service overall due to its speed potential and reliability. It offers equal download and upload speeds of up to 5 Gbps (although 1,000 Mbps is much more common). This makes it perfect for households with multiple users, streaming, online gaming, and working from home.

Fiber is a relatively new technology and is, therefore, the least available among the types of internet. However, internet service providers (ISP) are making massive investments in their fiber networks, so availability and capability will increase over the next several years. For these reasons, fiber can be one of the more expensive options, too.

Fiber Internet

Fiber internet uses light to transfer data along cables made of glass, and fiber-optic filaments. Because fiber uses light impulses rather than electrical currents, it can transmit data at the speed of light, making it one of the fastest connection types with 5 Gbps speeds available in some areas. While it offers some of the fastest speeds and supports multiple users, fiber is not as widely available as DSL and cable internet and can cost significantly more.

Pros

  • Fast symmetrical speeds
  • Most reliable connection
  • Supports heavy use in multi-user homes

Cons

  • One of the more expensive options
  • Limited–but growing–availability in the US

Cable Internet

With far more availability than fiber, cable internet uses the same coaxial cables used for cable TV subscriptions. Cable internet is faster than DSL, reaching speeds up to 3 Gbps, and much more reliable. Due to its speed and availability, it is the leading choice today, with over 60% of U.S. households using the connection.

Pros

  • More availability than fiber
  • Supports gaming and streaming
  • Fast download speeds

Cons

  • Slower speeds during peak hours
  • Limited availability in rural areas
  • Moderate to high prices

DSL Internet

Digital subscriber line, better known as DSL internet, is one of the most available connection types in the United States because it uses the vast infrastructure of telephone lines to transmit data. However, its speeds are significantly slower than fiber and cable, with a max speed of 150 Mbps. DSL is also prone to service disruptions, latency issues, and buffering. It’s best for smaller households, users with minimal to moderate speed requirements, and lower overall cost.

Pros

  • Less expensive than fiber and cable
  • Move availability, even in rural areas
  • Faster than dial-up

Cons

  • Slow to average speeds
  • Doesn’t support gaming or streaming well
  • High latency and buffering issues

Satellite Internet

As the name implies, satellite internet uses satellites orbiting Earth to transfer data between your home and the provider’s network. This connection type has the unique advantage of being available virtually anywhere and reaches speeds up to 200 Mbps. There are only a few satellite internet providers available today, and plans tend to be pricier per MB than other types. Although it isn’t the fastest or most affordable, satellite internet is ideal for folks looking for internet options in rural areas, where choices are usually limited.

Pros

  • Available virtually everywhere
  • Can overcome physical barriers
  • Faster than dial-up an on-pa with DSL speeds

Cons

Fixed Wireless Internet

Using cell towers, fixed wireless internet transmits data over radio waves, versus ground-based cables. Like satellite, fixed wireless is most common in rural areas where hard-wired cable connections are less common, but it does have line-of-sight requirements to establish and maintain reliable speeds and connectivity. Fixed wireless speeds vary greatly based on location, but can deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps in ideal conditions. 

Pros

  • Delivers internet to underserved areas
  • Easy installation
  • Local customer service

Cons

  • Requires a clear line of sight to the tower
  • Less predictable speeds
  • Can be expensive

5G Internet

Fifth-generation technology, or 5G internet, is the new evolution in wireless networks to replace older technologies with far better performance. 5G data is transmitted over millimeter wave (mmWave) bands that are capable of speeds up to 10 Gbps. With faster speeds, it is also able to offer lower latency and increased connectivity than even fiber internet. While 5G currently offers about 75% coverage, it is mostly being used by cell phones. Home-based 5G internet availability is still minimal.

Pros

  • Some of the fastest speeds among all connections
  • Increased connectivity for more devices
  • Low latency

Cons

  • Cost and labor obstacles to overbuilding
  • Difficulty penetrating barriers
  • Very limited availability for home internet

Test Your Internet Connection

We recommend testing your internet connection regularly to see how it performs over time. Your internet speed test results can help you assess your internet needs, find the best times to get online and keep your ISP in check.

If you find that your current internet plan isn’t supporting your online activities as you expect, it may be time to upgrade your internet plan or speak with customer support to find a solution.

Choosing the Right Internet Connection

Picking the right internet connection really comes down to your needs and what is available in your area. Each has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to speed, cost, and availability. For those in rural areas, you may only have access to satellite internet. In those cases, you can rest easy knowing you have access to a reliable broadband internet service. 

Internet Slow? Here are 10 Possible Reasons Why

If you constantly find yourself asking, “Why is my internet so slow?” while waiting for movies or websites to fully load, there are a lot of different reasons this could be happening.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common causes for poor internet service to help improve your home experience. Let’s get started on how to identify (and fix) your slow internet connection. 

Top 10 Reasons for Slow Internet

1. Your Browser History is Full

The first and easiest thing to check when your internet takes a dip is your web browser history. It’s easily forgettable but has a direct impact on your latency. As you visit different websites, your browser automatically collects and saves bits of data about your browsing history. If you forget to clear out this stored history, your browser will require more bandwidth than normal to manage all this extra data. This could be the cause of your slow internet.

Quick Fix: Clear your browser history

A simple fix is to clear your entire browser history including cookies and cached websites on a regular basis. This applies to all devices that have browser capabilities – smartphones, tablets, computers, and even smart TVs. If this is the cause of your slow internet, you will notice pages loading faster immediately after doing so.

2. Your Devices are Outdated

This is a hard one for some to accept. We grow attached to our devices, and while some stand in line for the latest gadgets to hit shelves, many people stick with what isn’t broken. When it comes to electronics, however, this can cause problems down the line. Technology is evolving every day, and with that, older models are phased out. Older devices typically cannot support faster networks like cable internet or fiber internet, which could cause latency issues or no connectivity at all sometimes. 

Quick Fix: Upgrade your devices

While upgrading does cost money, there are many cheap options for newer devices today. There are even programs like Apple Trade-In and Best Buy Trades where you can swap older devices for store credit on a new purchase. Once you upgrade your device, you are likely to see a drastic improvement in your internet experience.

3. Too Many Devices are Online

All devices on a network share a finite amount of bandwidth. Your WiFi router determines which devices need more, pulling from each to ensure all devices have some sort of connection. So, as you connect more devices to your network, you run the risk of using up all your bandwidth and overloading your internet equipment. This leads to latency issues and a poor user experience for everyone.

Quick Fix: Disconnect devices not in use

Try disconnecting devices throughout your house that are not currently being used. Of course, don’t add your smart fridge and home security system to the shortlist, but consider unplugging things like your Roomba, shower speaker, and TV you rarely watch when not in use. You should see a noticeable difference in your internet afterward.

4. Your Network is Set to Public

If you’re running low on bandwidth, it might be because your home network is open to the public. An open network allows anyone within signal range to use your internet without a password. This is bad for two reasons. First, the more devices connected to your network, the less bandwidth is available for a single user. Second, your network is left vulnerable to online cybercrimes. Both of these lead to slow internet.

Quick Fix: Create a WiFi password

The easiest solution to this problem is to create a strong password for your network. This allows you to limit the number of people and devices that can access your internet, which in turn conserves the bandwidth you pay for. We recommend using a complex series of eight or more upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers for this password, which you update at least once every 3-6 months.

5. You Haven’t Reset Your Equipment

Like all things that require energy, electronics need regular maintenance and rest to function at peak capacity. If you’re experiencing slow internet speeds, it may be your internet equipment signaling to you that it needs a break.

Quick Fix: Restart your router and/or modem

Your modem is what delivers internet signals from your provider to your home, and your router is what connects your devices to WiFi. Restarting one or both is an easy way to troubleshoot slow internet issues and refresh their connections. What’s more, it only takes about two minutes. We recommend performing this task on a monthly basis by either setting a reminder on your phone or using an outlet timer to automatically reset plugged-in devices for specific outlets. This will also help preserve your equipment for as long as possible.

6. Your Router Needs a Better Spot

Right now, where is your router located in your home? Is it shoved under a desk or tangled in cords behind your TV? If the answer is yes to any of that, you’ll want to consider relocating your internet equipment. Similar to a lamp, a router needs space of its own to work efficiently. Well, why, you ask?

WiFi signals travel in waves and need room to disperse throughout a home. Obstacles like large furniture or wires can easily disrupt this signal. So, you want to think about the location you pick for your router to help it “breathe” so to speak.

Quick Fix: Relocate your router

If you live in a one-story home, the best place for your router is in the center of the house away from other cords or large pieces of furniture. If you live in a multi-story home, it is best to place your router on the highest level as WiFi signals also travel downward better than upward.

Aside from that, it’s best to place your equipment on the highest level of furniture in your home, off the floor, and as far away as possible from highly-wired areas like your TV or computer station. This helps eliminate potential signal interference.

7. Furniture is Blocking Signal

In addition to your router placement, it’s possible that your slow WiFi is caused by the furniture arrangement in the home. WiFi signals travel best when there are no obstacles blocking their path. Objects made of thick materials like wood, metal, and sheetrock are common barriers to a stable WiFi connection. Sometimes, slow internet can be caused by your decorating as much as it can be caused by the placement of your equipment.

Quick Fix: Rearrange your furniture

With a bit of rearranging, you can easily improve the performance of your home internet. Consider moving larger pieces of furniture like couches, desks, and beds to the exterior walls of your home to allow WiFi signals to pass through rooms easily. Also, ensure that your router is placed in a central, open space with the least amount of walls close by.

8. Your House is Too Big

Have you ever noticed that the farther away you are from your router, the worse your connection gets? This happens because WiFi signals slowly weaken and dissipate as they travel farther from the source (your router). On top of this, other physical barriers like furniture and walls can work negatively against the overall performance of your internet. Large homes frequently have this problem.

Quick Fix: Invest in a WiFi booster

It’s unrealistic to expect you to purchase all new furniture or knock down walls to improve your slow internet. A more reasonable solution would be to invest in a WiFi extender or Mesh WiFi system to help boost your WiFi signal throughout your home. These devices are easy to set up and range in price from a few to a couple of hundred dollars.

9. Your ISP is Throttling Your Speeds

While rare, your slow internet could be due to ISP throttling. This is when a provider intentionally slows down a customer’s internet speeds to either regulate network congestion or stop illegal search activity. It’s not a great user experience, which is why many providers have stopped throttling speeds or at the very least offer unlimited data options to sidestep this. If you already have unlimited data, another way to avoid ISP throttling is using a virtual private network (VPN).

Quick Fix: Use a VPN

An ISP chooses who to slow down based on a user’s IP address. This is a digital identifier that connects a user to their online activity. Using a VPN will reroute all of your data through their secure servers, so your actual IP is hidden from your service provider. It’s the easiest way to avoid ISP throttling and costs less than a cup of coffee a month for most subscriptions.

10. You’re Paying for a Slow Internet Plan

If none of the solutions above did the trick, it may be time to upgrade your internet plan to include faster speeds. A common cause for slow internet is people not having enough bandwidth to keep up with their digital needs. Different internet activities require different amounts of bandwidth, and no matter what you do, there’s always a limit to what you pay for.

Quick Fix: Upgrade your internet plan

We all go through different seasons in our lives that require more or less internet. If your current service isn’t cutting it for you, consider upgrading your plan. Start by testing your internet speed to get an idea of what’s not working. Then, factor in things like how many people live in your home, how many devices you typically have connected, and what types of internet activities you regularly use. This will help determine the best internet speed for you to sign up for next.

Internet Speed Test Results Explained

In this guide, we’ll explain what an internet speed test is, how to read your speed test results, and why you might be experiencing bad service. 

Table of Contents

What an Internet Speed Test Is

The first step to figuring out what’s wrong with your internet is running a speed test. An internet speed test is a measurement of how fast your internet is in real-time.

It usually takes less than one minute to complete and provides current stats about your internet service including download speed, upload speed, ping time, and IP address. These stats help gauge the performance of your current connection and confirm whether or not the speeds you pay for actually hold up.

Internet service providers (ISPs) typically advertise maximum speeds available for plans, but actual speeds tend to come in slightly lower. So, don’t be surprised if your test results vary day by day. Many factors affect internet performance, but before we discuss those reasons, let’s touch on the data measured with speed tests.

What Your Speed Results Mean

As we mentioned above, an internet speed test is a live assessment of how fast your internet connection is. The results you receive include your download speed, upload speed, and ping time:

  • Download Speed – This measures how fast you can receive data from the internet to your device. Internet providers usually prioritize download speeds on their network since most internet activities require download vs upload speed, such as streaming movies or gaming online.
  • Upload Speed – This measures how fast you can send data from your device to the internet. Online activities like video conferencing for remote work or uploading photos to social media require fast upload speeds.
  • Ping – This is a test that confirms a network server connection. A ping test sends a data request to a server to see if it comes back. If it does, your connection is active.
  • Ping time – This measures how fast a data request travels to and from a server for testing. When it takes more than a few seconds to get a response, a user’s connection usually buffers for a while.

Remember, internet service providers always advertise their maximum speeds available, which don’t take into account multiple devices or people online at once. Users rarely reach full capacity when accessing the internet. Depending on your connection type, your service is working ok if speeds get at least 50 to 200 Mbps within range of your top speeds.

Now, if you’re experiencing slower internet than normal, there are plenty of reasons this could be happening. We list the three main reasons (and solutions) you can try before having to call your provider for help.

Reasons for Slow Internet

More times than not, these are the three likely reasons for slow internet that you can easily fix on your own and take less than 10 minutes from start to finish.

Your Router Needs a Better Spot

The most common cause for slow WiFi is equipment location. Similar to a lamp, a router and modem both need space of their own to perform at peak capacity. So, try to avoid placing your router on the floor, near other cords, behind big furniture, or tucked in a corner. Instead, it’s best to place your router in the center of your home, on the top floor level, or on the highest furniture perch since WiFi signal travels downward better than upward.

Time Required: 10 min

You Haven’t Reset Your Equipment

Like all things that require energy, electronics need regular maintenance and rest to function at their best. Try restarting your modem and router on a regular basis to troubleshoot internet issues and refresh their connections. We recommend doing this monthly to ensure you get the most out of your internet equipment either by setting a reminder on your phone or using an outlet timer to automate the task.

Time Required: 5-10 min

Too Many Devices are Online

Each day, your WiFi router determines which devices need bandwidth, pulling excess bandwidth randomly from each to ensure all devices have an active connection. So, as you connect more devices to your network, you run the risk of using up all your subscribed bandwidth and overloading your internet equipment. To avoid this, try disconnecting devices throughout the house that are not currently being used to free up bandwidth on your network.

Time Required: 5 min

Run a Speed Test Today

We recommend testing your internet connection regularly to see how it performs over time. You can use your speed test results to:

1. Keep Your ISP in Check

Never pay for poor service if you can help it. Your speed test results are an easy way to keep your internet provider accountable. While it’s normal for speeds to perform slightly lower than advertised, you should still be within 50 to 200 Mbps of your paid plan.

If you find that your speeds are consistently too low, this information can help you when contacting your ISP. In some cases, providers will offer discounts, reduced rates, or same-day technician support to resolve your issue.

2. Find the Best Times to Get Online

It’s normal for your speeds to be slower during the evening between 7 PM and 11 PM. This period is known as “peak hours” because it’s the time most users access the internet after school or work. On the other hand, you may find that speeds are faster in the early morning or during weekdays when fewer people are online. The sure way to know the best time to get online is to test your internet speed throughout the day.

3. Assess Your Internet Needs

Routinely checking your internet connection can help you decide what speeds are right for your lifestyle. If you constantly find yourself slowed down by buffering screens, you may need to get a new internet plan with faster speeds. As your online habits change, so will your internet needs.

4. Upgrade Your Internet if Needed

Are you constantly slowed down by your internet connection? Tired of waiting for Netflix to load at night? It may be time to upgrade your internet plan. Use HighSpeedOptions to compare top providers and plans available near you.