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What is Considered High-Speed Internet?

While you can run a speed test to find out how fast your Internet service is, whether it's "fast enough" depends on what you're doing with it.

Do you have high-speed Internet? What constitutes “high speed” for an Internet service? It’s all relative. While you can run a speed test to find out how fast your Internet service is, whether it’s “fast enough” depends on what you’re doing with it.

Average Internet Speeds by Service

While there are other types of Internet service, such as satellite, the three most popular types are DSL, cable and Fiber. DSL connections operate via telephone lines and usually range from 3 Mbps to 7 Mbps for a high tier service. Cable connections may perform at up to 300 Mbps of speed, though this is rare. Meanwhile, fiber connections can perform at up to 1,000 Mbps. You can test your own speed to see what it is.

Speeds by Upload and Download

It should be noted that Internet services have both an upload and a download speed. Most Internet services are asynchronous, which means their upload speeds are different from their download speeds. A cable connection may have 300 Mbps of download speed but only 7 Mbps of upload speed. If you’re streaming media, you only really care about your download speed. If you’re playing video games or uploading files, you may care about your upload speed as well. 

What is Considered to be High Speed?

Technically, within the industry, DSL, cable, and fiber are all considered to be “high-speed.” This is in comparison to dial-up modem technology, which last ran at 56k. In practice, high speed Internet is relative and constantly evolving. As files become larger, the same Internet speeds are no longer sufficient. While DSL was considered to be “high-speed Internet” (and, functionally, is still called high-speed Internet), it’s one of the slower services available.

Both cable and fiber technology are considered to be high-speed Internet technology and there’s no cut off point. But cable itself can cover a large gamut of speeds, from 10 Mbps to 300 Mbps. 

Most people would likely find themselves needing a little more Internet speed if they had a connection below 20 Mbps. With cable now being the average speed of the Internet for many households, it could be argued that fiber Internet connectivity is now the only true “high speed”—it’s the only technology available that is higher speed than average.

How Much Speed Do You Need?

Consider downloading a Blu-ray video. Using a 300 Mbps cable connection, this would take a little more than 4 minutes. Using a 1,000 Mbps fiber connection, this would take just a little over one minute. Using a 7 Mbps DSL connection, it would take about two and a half hours. Your necessary Internet speed largely depends on how much you’re going to be downloading.

Video games are a different story. With video games, latency and speed directly impact performance. The faster your Internet is, the more responsive you will be. If you don’t play real-time online games, you’ll mostly be concerned with download and streaming speed. A fiber connection can download most movies and videos in a matter of seconds, in addition to streaming the highest quality. Music will download almost immediately.

Signs That You Need More Speed

  • You constantly find yourself waiting for file downloads.
  • Streaming video often buffers, leaving you waiting for it to continue.
  • Streaming video plays in the lowest possible quality, looking grainy or blurry.
  • You lag behind other players when you’re playing games.
  • You find websites timing out or find websites taking a long time to load. 

Ultimately, what is considered “high speed” Internet is going to keep changing and evolving. It was only a decade ago when cable Internet was considered to be “high speed.” Before that, DSL Internet was considered to be “high speed.” And before that, 56k modems blew 14k modems out of the water.

Today and for the foreseeable future, fiber Internet is “high speed” Internet. Fiber Internet is able to achieve speeds at 10x to 100x the speed of other services. For more information about high speed Internet and to get high speed Internet to your home or office, contact PS LIGHTWAVE.

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PS LIGHTWAVE, a leading telecommunications service provider headquartered in Houston, Texas, provides managed Ethernet Data Circuits, Internet, private network solutions and Voice over IP (VoIP) over one of the nation’s largest facilities-based private Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs). The switched Layer 2 network, backed by 24/7/365 Network Operations Center (NOC) support, encompasses approximately 5,500 route miles and 1,400 on-net locations and connects 100+ fault-tolerant multi-gigabit Ethernet rings for built-in redundancy, security, low latency, and high-availability. At PS LIGHTWAVE Great Connections Happen Here™.

For more information, please visit or call 832-615-8000.