HomeBlogIs Broadband Internet Fast? How to Find the High-Speed Internet Plan You Need

Is Broadband Internet Fast? How to Find the High-Speed Internet Plan You Need

October 25th, 2022

Summary: Everybody wants fast internet. But what does that actually mean? Fiber internet is the gold standard — but does that include broadband internet? Do you need to upgrade from your 100 Mbps plan? We’ve got the answers you need, plus how to find the speed that’s right for you.

“I want fast internet” — it’s a phrase usually said in frustration when things are taking too long to load or you’re reviewing your current plan, either due to moving or budget changes. But what qualifies as fast internet? Is it any plan that’s higher than the one you currently have? Is broadband internet considered high-speed internet?

Let’s get into what fast internet really is and how to find the plan that’s right for you.

Is Broadband Internet Fast?

Broadband internet is a widely used term, and sometimes it seems like it means high-speed. But broadband is actually defined by the FCC as 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speeds. These haven’t been updated since 2015 and while it might sound painfully slow if you’re used to speeds like 1 Gig fiber internet, between 14.5 and 42 million Americans lack access to broadband internet.

So technically, yes, broadband and high-speed internet are the same thing. If you have internet that is not broadband, you have download speeds below 25 Mbps. But many people don’t feel that 25 Mbps is fast enough for their everyday lives — which is why 100 Mbps is such a popular speed, four times faster than broadband.

high speed internet plans and download times

Is 100 Mbps Internet Fast?

One of the most popular internet plans is 100 Mbps. If you remember the dial-up and DSL days (or you’re trying to find the right kind of rural internet), 100 Mbps might sound lightning fast compared to 3 Mbps or less. But now, this isn’t considered super fast internet. It’s slightly below the U.S. average speed, which is about 152 Mbps download and 21 Mbps upload, according to Ookla. That said, a 100 Mbps plan does allow you to stream, game, or video chat without too many slowdowns — as long as you don’t have many other devices connected.

What is Considered Fast Internet?

A good rule of thumb is that a plan with 200 Mbps download speed and 20 Mbps upload speeds or higher are considered fast. Many providers offer 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, 800 Mbps, and even 1 Gig internet plans — all of which are fast!

You’ll want to consider upload speed along with your download speed, though. Upload speed and download speed both affect your online experience, just in different ways. Download speed (the number you see advertised with your plan) is how quickly you can receive information from the web. It’s handy for things like watching movies, streaming music, and surfing the web.

Upload speed is how quickly you can send information. Most people need less upload speed, but it’s used to upload or send videos, hop on video conferences, and share large files. If you’re a dedicated gamer or content creator, you’ll want at least 10 Mbps of upload speed.

Do I Need Fast Internet?

Finding the right internet plan for you can be tricky, but there are a few ways to do it. If fiber internet is available at your house, that’s your best option. You’ll get the fastest — and symmetrical — speeds with fiber, which is the gold standard in internet.

First (and easiest!), call one of our Internet Experts at 866-383-3080. They’ll help find the plan that fits your life and your budget and answer any questions you may have.

Second, you can use our bandwidth calculator. Just answer a few questions and you’ll get a speed recommendation.

Or, you could use this chart. Pro tip: add at least 10 Mbps for each additional connected device in your home. And don’t forget about your smart home devices, like a video doorbell or thermostat.

Number of Devices* Activity Recommended Download Speed
2-4 Surfing the web, email, social media, occasionally streaming 100 Mbps or more
5-8 Online multiplayer gaming, HD streaming, photo sharing 500 Mbps or more
More than 9 Working remotely, attending online classes, playing multiplayer games, 4K streaming, multiple smart home devices 800 Mbps or more

Our last words of wisdom? If you’re on the bubble, get more speed. That will let you add more devices to your account without having to make changes and make your WiFi experience better. Internet plans are the speeds you can expect when you’re hardwired using an ethernet cable. But most of us use WiFi, which will always be a bit slower.

How Fast is EarthLink Internet?

EarthLink fiber internet is incredibly fast. Depending on the location, you can achieve download speeds of up to 5 Gigs (5,000 Mbps). For context, cable internet download speeds are typically between 10 – 500 Mbps. So even if you’re on the fastest cable plan, fiber is possibly twice as fast. 

EarthLink’s internet services are designed for unlimited device connections, rapid streaming, large file downloads, multiplayer gaming, smart home devices and more.

Find your EarthLink Fiber Internet plan online today or call our Internet Experts at 866-383-3080.

Michelle Ricker

Michelle Ricker

Michelle Ricker is the Content Marketing Manager for EarthLink. She's an internet expert who loves to break down why connectivity topics are relevant to everyday life. With more than five years of writing experience, she thrives on storytelling and well-placed punctuation. She graduated with her M.A. from the University of Cincinnati but currently lives and works in Atlanta.

See all posts from Michelle Ricker.