A screenshot of the God of War game being downloaded.

You (probably) don’t need Gigabit Internet

You’ve probably seen ads for gigabit internet services that promise blazing speeds that will eliminate lag when you play online and let you upload files in seconds. Upgrading to gigabit sounds tempting—after all, faster speeds are always better, right?

Not necessarily. In fact, some entry-level to mid-range Internet plans are fine for most people, even if you work from home and collaborate on Zoom all day, or kick back at night watching 4K movies while your kids stream music and videos. Every Internet service provider wants you to subscribe to their fastest gigabit service, but upgrading to that tier can cost 78% to 80% more than the lowest (or slowest) tier.

According to Ooklas Speedtest, 195 megabits per second is the average fixed broadband speed in the United States as of January 2023, meaning many households enjoy higher speeds and many have lower speeds. Services like Disney+, Netflix, Sony PlayStation Plus, and Zoom are aware of internet speed limits and have designed their offerings to run at much slower speeds, though you may still want a plan with 100Mbps to 500Mbps speeds if you want to support streaming from multiple devices throughout the day.

But first, let’s dive into what gigabit Internet entails, why you might be tempted to sign up for a high-speed plan, and why you really don’t need one.

What is Gigabit Internet? Concert+? Multi-concert?

Gigabit internet is a misnomer. As with most advertised internet speeds, gigabit internet services advertise and deliver until 1 gigabit per second or 1,000 megabits per second. This means you don’t always see the ultra-fast speeds you might expect.

Here’s how internet speed levels typically break down:

High Speed ​​Internet Service: This term technically refers to anything at or above 25 Mbps, according to the FCC’s increasingly outdated definition. This is the low end for any broadband internet service, whether it’s fiber, cable, DSL, or 5G wireless home service. Plans with slower speeds were common a few years ago, and while you can currently find some affordable connectivity plans that offer speeds up to 50Mbps, as of early 2023, most current entry-level plans offer speeds of 75Mbps to 300Mbps. Areas limited to DSL service see download speeds of 100Mbps or less.

Gigabit Internet Subscriptions: These promise download speeds of around 800Mbps to 940Mbps and upload speeds of 30Mbps to 50Mbps (cable) or 880Mbps to 940Mbps (fiber). Until this year, ISPs focused on selling gigabit plans, but now they’re heavily promoting gig+ and multi-gig plans.

Gig+ Plans: Those plans offer download speeds of between 1,200Mbps and 2,000Mbps. They’re not available everywhere, but Internet service providers are starting to push them more.

Multi-gig plans: Expensive and rare, these plans let you download anything at speeds over 2,000Mbps (2Gbps), and theoretically up to 10Gbps.

(Note that the gigs talked about here are gigabits per second, or Gbps, not to be confused with gigabytes or GB, which are commonly used to measure memory and storage capacity in PCs and SSDs.)

Is Gigabit Internet Service Really Necessary in 2023?

While faster sounds better, you shouldn’t sign up for a gigabit Internet tier before you understand how you use the Internet and whether faster speeds would actually help you with work or play.

Streaming 4K video only requires about 25 Mbps per stream, according to Disney+. Gigabit-level service provides speeds of around 900 megabits per second, so an extended family (up to 12 people) could stream 4K content to each of their devices simultaneously and still stay below that limit. Streaming 1080p HD videos like those on Sling TV or YouTube TV and from most broadcast services require 3Mbps to 5Mbps each. Even if you have several family members, you’re probably fine with a plan that offers 100Mbps to 500Mbps for watching Internet TV or movies.

Online multiplayer games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, AND League of Legends need 5 Mbps to 50 Mbps throughput, but online games rarely send large data packets; instead, they send smaller data packets very quickly. Therefore, stats like latency, packet loss, and jitter are more important in this context, but these factors vary on a daily basis, if not by the minute. If you are an online gamer, checking sites like Lag Report can give you a better idea if your internet connection is sufficient to play. If you have strong Wi-Fi and a good router, your speeds are probably fast enough, even if your family members are streaming on their phones or tablets at the same time. For best performance, however, you need to connect your game console or PC to your router with an Ethernet cable.

How about working remotely or learning from home?

If you’re working from home, Zoom meetings are fine at speeds of 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (up/down) for group or one-on-one meetings, and the requirements are similar or lower for services like Verizon’s BlueJeans, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Webex. Security cameras from companies like Eufy and Wyze need 2Mbps to 5Mbps upload speeds if you’re monitoring their video feeds in real time. As with Zoom calling, a camera system’s upload speed is often more important than its download speed. On cable Internet connections, upload speeds are often slower than download speeds, and overloading that stream can cause stuttering and dropped connections. Unless you’re uploading or downloading huge video files all day, one of the moderate plans, which offers 100Mbps to 500Mbps, should be fast enough.

How much is gigabit Internet?

Considering that most online services don’t require faster speeds to function, we find plans that provide 100Mbps to 500Mbps are good enough for a family of three to eight; compared to gigabit Internet, they cost much less per month. If you’re paying for gigabit Internet but only use 300Mbps at any given time, you’re wasting money by paying a lot for extra overhead that you don’t need.

Using Xfinity, the largest cable ISP in the United States, as an example, we determined that a current customer without a contract would pay $60 a month for the lowest tier, which offers download speeds of 75Mbps and upload speeds of around 10Mbps. At the high end, a plan that provides 1.2Gbps download speeds (1,200Mbps) and 35Mbps upload speeds costs $107 before tax and fees. That’s $564 more a year, until rates go up (as they inevitably do). Xfinity offers a 200Mbps plan for $77/month and a 400Mbps plan for $92/month, both of which are much more attractive than the $107 plan. Of course, you can find gigabit Internet plans at a discount, whether you’re signing up as a new customer or threatening to switch providers, but we decided to leave that out of the equation because the customer retention department’s offers vary, and switching ISPs is a hassle and sometimes not possible unless you move. .

Who Really Needs Gigabit Internet?

People running video editing businesses would actually benefit from gigabit speeds, because they download and upload large, multi-gigabyte work files all day long. Even companies dealing with large datasets would benefit from thinking about engineering designs and plans for an automobile manufacturer, rather than, say, a text-based inventory system for a comic book store.

Gigabit internet might make sense for you in some cases: If you run a data-heavy business at home, work in video content creation, or are a database developer, you could probably use gigabit or faster speeds. If so, look for gigabits on both the upload and download sides (symmetrical speeds, usually found on fiber networks).

People who regularly play new and modern video games could also benefit from faster download speeds. For example, God of War Ragnark that’s an 80GB download on PlayStation 5 and 100GB on PlayStation 4, and with a 55Mbps internet connection, the best-case scenario for an 80GB download is more than three hours. On a 940 Mbps connection, however, the download time would be just over 11 minutes. And even after the initial game download, many games have huge, multi-gigabyte patches that are required to continue playing them online or to fix bugs or other problems.

A screenshot of the God of War game being downloaded.
Photo: Arthur Gies

What is the difference between fiber and cable gigabit internet?

We recommend choosing fiber if available in your area. Upload speeds over fiber significantly exceed those of a gigabit cable Internet plan, offering 940Mbps versus 30Mbps to 50Mbps. However, your area may only have one high-speed Internet choice, so your mileage may vary. Check the FCC’s broadband search site to see if there are other Internet service providers available at your location.

What devices do you need to take advantage of gigabit internet or the fastest broadband?

We usually recommend owning your own equipment, but if your ISP includes a router and cable modem or gateway combo, as part of your gigabit service for free, give it a try; it might solve your internet problems.

You’ll probably want a standalone Wi-Fi 6 router or mesh router system to get the most gigabit service, or a Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 7 router for gig+ or multi-gig service. For more details, read our guide to the best routers.

Sometimes people think they need to upgrade their internet tier to gigabit service when in reality they need to upgrade the router itself and nothing else. Here’s one way to check: Is Internet speed fine in the room where the router lives but slow in a room where Wi-Fi signals have to pass through more than three or four walls? Before upgrading your internet service, look into a Wi-Fi 6 or faster mesh networking system. Slow Wi-Fi can make you think your internet service is slow, and a mesh system can often help solve the problem by spreading the signals throughout your home.

If you decide to upgrade to gigabit internet, make sure your devices can actually take advantage of those ultra-fast speeds. If you connect your streaming boxes or smart TVs via Ethernet cables, you’re good to go. For laptops and tablets, look for at least Wi-Fi 7, Wi-Fi 6E, or Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. On a desktop PC or professional laptop, look for a wired 2.5GbE Ethernet port or add one with an adapter to get the most out of multi-gig service; a PC or Mac with a Gigabit Ethernet port is sufficient for gigabit Internet. Check your device’s technical specifications on the manufacturer’s website to confirm that it will support gigabit speeds.

This article was edited by Caitlin McGarry and Arthur Gies.

#dont #Gigabit #Internet
Image Source : www.nytimes.com

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