slow internet paying

Slow Internet? Paying More For Faster Speeds May Not Be The Answer

By Leon Hounshell. Leon is EarthLink’s Chief Product Officer and a member of the Forbes Technology Council where this article was originally published.

Internet providers are offering faster and faster speeds, and as households and businesses depend more and more on connected devices, increasing the speed of the internet seems like a great idea. Yet, more download speed doesn’t always result in a better experience.

Yes, internet access speed is important, but arguably more important is how that speed is distributed throughout your home over the Wi-Fi network.

How Much Speed Do You Really Need?

To be clear, internet speed matters. But the speed you need depends on what you’re going to do with it. If you’re simply sending emails, checking social media and surfing the web, a speed of 5-10 megabits per second should do it. Start streaming movies on your HD TV, and now you need about 10-15 megabits per second. For online gaming, at least 20 megabits per second is usually recommended.

Move up to 4K video streaming, and the recommendation starts at about 25 megabits per second. The number of people and devices that use the internet at the same time can multiply your speed needs. And if you’ve ever stared at your laptop, watching that bar in the middle of the screen slowly fill in, you know that really large files download faster when you have more speed.

Still, taking everything into account, 40-50 megabits per second is usually enough speed for a household to play online games, post pictures, stream HD movies, video conference and more. Families who are heavier internet users – serious gamers, 4K binge streamers, etc. – will need closer to 100 megabits per second to make sure their internet connection will not be the bottleneck. Based on your business needs and employee numbers, you may look for a similar speed.

Obviously, every household and business is different, which is why you might want to talk with your internet service provider about what you're paying for versus what you need. Alternatively, you can search for a bandwidth calculator that will help assess your particular situation. Enter your household or business's number of people, devices and online activities, and the calculator will recommend how many megabits per second you need.

Now, if you’re paying only for the speed you need and your internet is working great throughout your entire home, congratulations! You are in a fairly exclusive group of internet consumers.

But, if you’re paying for more speed than you need or you think, “I’m paying for the speed I need, and the internet is still not doing its job,” stick with me. There’s more to meeting your internet needs than speed.

Getting The Right Speed To All The Right Places

When movies buffer, games hang up and files take forever to download, paying more to your internet provider to increase your internet access speed may seem like the answer. But it’s usually not the solution.

Nearly all of our devices now connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. And Wi-Fi signals are like light: Some objects interfere with them, while others let them through. It doesn’t matter how fast the internet speed coming into your house is. If the Wi-Fi signals are blocked or absorbed – or if they have to travel too far – you’re going to have internet dead zones.

Fortunately, there are two types of boosters to fix the problem: Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi mesh networks.

Wi-Fi extenders simply pick up the Wi-Fi signal from your wireless router and rebroadcast it -- or extend it. So, while the extended signal may not be as robust as the original signal, it’ll be stronger in that area than it was before. Note that much like your router, where you place the extender makes a difference. It needs to pick up a good signal from the main router while also being close enough to the Wi-Fi dead zone to bring it to life.

However, due to placement issues and the size and layout of your home, a Wi-Fi mesh network may be a better solution. Mesh networks use multiple access points, called nodes, that you place around your house to blanket it in a wireless network. With a mesh Wi-Fi system, you can cover every corner of your space by simply adding nodes. This means, regardless of where you are in your home, the speed you’re paying for is (close to) the speed you’ll experience.

And speaking of speed and Wi-Fi networks, as you investigate how to improve yours, you’ll probably run across Wi-Fi 6. This new technology standard, which was launched in the fall of 2019, delivers faster speeds, a longer range and better support for the internet of things (IoT) world in which we live. If you’re already planning to purchase a mesh network, it’s probably worth investing in this latest technology so you can take advantage of its benefits, as more and more devices are Wi-Fi 6 certified. And older devices work on Wi-Fi 6; they just won’t experience the performance improvements.

For years, when the internet was slow, the first thought was always, “We need faster speeds from our internet provider.” Now we know that more speed isn’t always the answer; you also have to get that speed to all the right places. Leveraging advancements in Wi-Fi technologies will allow you to take advantage of the speed you’re paying for and greatly improve the overall internet experience. And it might even reduce your internet bill.

car going very fast around curve with headlights How to Get the Fastest Home Internet

How to Get the Fastest Home Internet

Summary: As more streaming services emerge, the demand on your home’s high-speed internet increases. Find out how to choose between many available options and what makes your connection fast.

These days, the best television, movies, and music often come from streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and so many others offer millions of hours of content for anyone with a reliable internet connection to enjoy. But we're also asking our internet to step up to plate to handle streaming, gaming, video calls, classes, work and so much more. 

But when you have a house full of devices, normal internet speeds just aren’t enough — you need the fastest home internet available.

These tips can help you pick the fastest home internet provider so you can get back to enjoying your favorite shows.

Picking the Right Type of High-Speed Internet

With dozens of internet providers offering many different types of internet services at a wide range of speeds, how do you decide which is the best for you and what to choose?

Fiber, cable, satellite, and DSL are just a few of the options you may be considering. While fiber internet boasts the quickest speeds, it’s not available everywhere yet. As the technology expands, fiber will become a more and more available and attractive option for homes and businesses across the U.S.

Cable may be the most common type of internet connection as it is more widely available to consumers. Cable internet requires a modem and computer (or router) and uses coaxial cables to supply an internet feed but can slow down with too many devices. Or when you and your neighbors (who all share the same cable lines) all need to be online at once. Hello, lag time. 

hand with remote control in front of streaming service screen how to get the fastest home internet


Satellite internet and DSL are typically found in more rural or isolated areas, relying on satellite dishes or telephone lines to deliver service. Connections can be slower but allow for a greater number of people outside of large cities to have access to the digital world.

The right type of internet connection depends entirely on your situation, and the fastest home internet is often found on a case-by-case basis. Ensure you have the speed for your needs with the right plan and internet service provider.

What Makes Internet Fast?

The number of devices and frequency of streaming, gaming, chatting, or sharing large files play a big role. To ensure that you (and everyone in the house) can jam out to music, cheer on the team, and binge TV shows, a strong and reliable high-speed connection is a top priority.

Fortunately, there are more internet service provider options than ever, and speeds are only getting faster.

Finding the right type of internet for your needs is the most important step in finding the fastest home internet. Perform regular speed tests on your device to see the connection you’re getting and talk to your internet service provider about any issues with lag time or throttling from data caps.

Make sure you stay connected with your favorite shows, people, classes, and more by exploring your internet options. The search for the fastest home internet changes constantly, and as technology evolves the industry and providers will too. Stay up to speed and never miss another moment.


Updated 2/15/2021

Person riding motorcycle very fast on the road.

What Internet Speed Do I Need?

Summary: In our fast-paced world, internet capability is simply not enough. Now, high-speed internet service is a must-have. Picking internet speeds that fit your lifestyle has never been more important. But how do you decide what speed you really need? Here’s a quick breakdown to help you choose.

How Do You Use the Internet?

The first and most important step in choosing the right internet speed is figuring out your purpose. Pretty easy, right?

As a rule of thumb, the more people there are in a household, the more speed you’ll need. But it also depends on what type of activities you’re using the web for. Checking email, scrolling through social media feeds, and online shopping don’t require a lot of data or speed. Other activities, like streaming movies, gaming, and online fitness classes require more data, so you’ll need higher speeds to experience those without lag.

Of course, residential and business internet needs are certainly different.

Business internet typically requires three to four times the speed of residential internet to support a full office.

The service plan options for home and business vary just as widely, with business internet service typically priced higher than residential. While we’ll focus on residential internet in this article, we can also help you decide on the best fit for high-speed business internet.

group of business employees looking and computer with internet what internet speed do you need

How Much Speed Is Just Right?

Now that you know what you need your internet speeds to support, it will be easier to find the speed that’s right for you.

Most companies like Netflix or Hulu suggest speeds of at least 25 Mbps for streaming — but that’s only if you’re streaming in standard definition on a single device at a time. If you primarily use the internet to browse or check social media, you may need less.

Of course, if you are looking for more out of your internet, like playing competitive games online, high-definition streaming, and large file downloading — especially simultaneously — you begin to reach the triple digits in required speeds. If you have multiple household members working or schooling from home, you’ll also want 100 Mbps or more to ensure you’re not causing your own internet to slow down.

Sound like your household? In that case, fiber internet is the way to go. Not only do you get the fastest speeds, but you also have the most reliable internet service. Fiber internet won’t go down in a power outage and has a dedicated connection — meaning peak internet traffic hours won’t affect you.

It’s also important to remember that if you’re participating in high data-consuming activities — like those listed above — you want an internet service provider with no internet data caps. That way, you’re never restricted from streaming or gaming.

The bottom line is that you know your internet needs best. Now that you’ve used these tips, you’re ready to find the right high-speed internet plan for your household. Make sure you have the speed you need, and it will make all the difference.

Digital New Year Resolutions: Taking Control of Technology For a Healthy New You

Technological advancements in 2019 will bring with it both the good and the bad. On the positive side, there is no doubt that technology has brought truly awesome advancements to our day-to-day lives. From convenience and efficiency, safety and life-saving features, to entertainment and information, technology has transformed modern-day living. But, viewed more critically, the near-constant presence of technology has also taken control of our behavior, defining how we act when instead, we should be strategically using technology to improve ourselves.

The New Year is an opportunity to take control of your technology habits and self-select the very best that technology has to offer, instead of acquiescing to the ever-present shortcuts that result in less physical activity and less quality, face-to-face interactions with friends and family.

After all, technology isn’t the bad guy; it’s how we use technology that is the problem. So, it’s up to each of us to take a step back and assess our technology diets and see not only where we can trim the overuse but how we can use technology to work towards even greater versions of ourselves in 2019. Let’s get healthy with technology!

healthy technology habits for 2019


Health Technology Habits

  • Don’t use your phone when driving. It is a life-or-death choice.
  • Don't let technology limit your sleep. Keep your phones out of the bedroom.
  • Limit your day-to-day technology distractions by tailoring notifications.
  • Manage friends, family, and work expectations about technology response time.
  • Use social media to be social, and reduce your time spent there if it becomes a negative experience.
  • Intentionally, create time to disconnect and enjoy quality time spent alone and with others.


  • Use Technology To Get Outside More: From Pokémon Go and Walking Dead augmented reality games to a huge selection of running, walking, biking exercise apps, technology gets you off the couch, out of the office and moving.
  • Use Technology To Track Your Health Stats: Exercise apps and dedicated health apps are designed to track your personalized health stats and goals. These technologies can alert you to health risks and also serve as motivation to get and stay active.
  • Use Technology As Your Health Coach: These same apps give your feedback as to your progress and provide tips to improve your results.
  • Use Technology To Make Exercise Fun: From setting your treadmill exercise program to visually taking you on a walk through the streets of Italy to joining a real-time spinning class led by an exercise professional, there are many ways to make time set aside for physical health into an entertaining activity.
  • Use Technology To Make Exercise Social: Many exercise apps allow you to share your benchmark results, as well as challenge other ‘tech and fit’ oriented friends and family members to join you in achieving a healthier new year.

Be present in your life, cultivating real-time relationships and healthy behaviors by actively taking control of your technology use. Stay in tune with the ways technology can make getting healthy a more engaging and entertaining activity.

EarthLink has tools to help you stay safe online. Visit our Security and Tools section to learn more.



Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.

How Grandparents Can Connect With Their Grandkids on Instagram

Sometimes you just have to meet folks where they are. Geography aside, your grandchildren are likely on Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. That's the beauty of technology, your grandkids could be living down the street from you or a continent away, but social media doesn’t care. And truth be told, your grandkids might very well be more attentive to what you have to say when you post it.

The great thing about Instagram is that it’s perfect for grandparents. Think of it as a virtual photo album or brag book. It's an opportunity to share your point of view, your memories, and your favorites with the younger generation when (and where) they are listening.

How Grandparents Can Get Started on Instagram

Start with the photo or image. Just like your traditional photo album, choose an image that is interesting. Instagram is about telling stories through images. A memory from your childhood is a story waiting to be told. Honoring your grandchild’s academic or sports achievement is perfect for Instagram. But do be smart about sharing their personal or identifying information on public social media platforms.

Instagram can be all about introspection, especially when this dive inward opens a window into who you are in a way that your family can see and share it. Instagram encourages you to share details about an image with a description.

Using Hashtags on Instagram

Then, don't forget to close with hashtags. A hashtag is like a filing system for social media posts and can help you become part of a trending topic. They always start with the symbol # and are followed by a word with no spaces or punctuation. #grandparent is one to try or maybe #ilovemygrandkids. Just like you can follow an account on Instagram, you can also follow hashtags. So, by using them on your posts, more people might be more likely to see them.

Technically you are encouraged to use more than one hashtag say 10 but no more than 30. You can also curate your own collection of hashtags and re-use them.

Here is a list of hashtags you could use:

#grandparents #family #love #happy #fun #cute #instagood #familytime #life #photooftheday #smile #mom #dad #sister #sisters #siblings #mother #father #related #brothers #brother #sis #bro #grandma #grandpa #parents #grandparentsday #summer #memories #blessed #photo #birthday #anniversary #wedding #uncle #mothersday  #auntie #fathersday #halloween #babyshower #parentstobe #summer #holidays

Want to see how other grandparents are doing it? Check out #grandparent on Instagram.

How Grandparents Can Use Social Media to Make Connections

Think this is sounding a bit frivolous? Think again. Drawings for My Grandchildren is a great example of a way to use social media to make meaningful family connections. This 75-year-old grandfather, Chan Joe, lives in South Korea far from his grandchildren in the United States. He may have wondered if they will really ever know him or what will they remember about him? Chan Joe’s son recognized his father’s talent with art and saw its potential on Instagram. He encouraged his father to draw for his grandchildren and share the images on Instagram.

Social Media Etiquette for Grandparents

  • Don't post unflattering or inappropriate photos of your grandkids
  • Don't hijack every post and turn it into a conversation
  • Don't use social media to guilt kids or grandkids
  • Don't add your grandkids' friends unless they instigate it

There's another side benefit of getting on Instagram or other social media. It gets you involved in your grandchild’s online world. This a great conversation starter for you and your grandchildren. Ask them for help setting up your account and for Instagram tips. Ready to give it a try?


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Keeping Kids Safer In a Digital World

Today’s children are considered ‘Digital Natives’ because they were born into a world defined by technology, but are actually “Digital Naives.” Without intervention, children lack an understanding of the implications of their digital actions. We tell kids that they should never meet-up with a person they met online and that someone you don’t know in real life is always a stranger (because you can’t confirm who they really are). But, let’s face it, the internet is about making connections.

From dating sites to Craigslist and social media groups, adults make online connections that turn into real-world connections regularly. At some point, children will have reasons to make these kinds of connections too. Even if that time is when they go off to college, the adults in children’s lives need to model behavior that ensures safety in the digital world.

While you can never guarantee anything you do will keep you 100 percent safe, there are precautions to consider if you really want to meet up with someone you met online. Here are tips for staying safe when meeting and talking to unknown people online.

  • Ask them to use Facetime or Google Hangouts or a social media app or live chat app.
  • If they refuse or can’t for some reason, ask them to send you a selfie with something that shows the day’s date and time.
  • If they also refuse to do this or can’t send a selfie, do not meet up with them!
  • Ask yourself, why would they be refusing to prove who they really are?


  • If you arrange to meet-up with someone, never go alone.
  • Arrange to meet up in a public place with lots of other people around.
  • Tell the person that “I’m bringing along my friend too. If you're being safe like me, and you have someone coming too, they could sit together.”

If you are under the age of 18, these are not suggestions. You must bring a trusted adult with you if they approve of the meet up. If any of your plans are not accepted by your new online friend, stop communicating with them. And then take time to block them on your accounts and hide your information from them.

When meeting and talking to unknown people online, your safety and comfort should be important to them. It will be important to any good person you meet online who wants to meet up IRL. The reality is that it’s a dangerous world out there — for them as well. Even following these tips cannot guarantee your safety.

Talk to the trusted adults in your life, use good judgment, and stay safe out there.



Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.