do I need gigabit internet
Internet Tips and Tricks

Do I Need Gigabit Internet? Maybe Not – But It’s Worth It

Asking, “Do I need gigabit internet?” is more relevant now than ever before. With the average internet speed in the USA clocking in at 242.38Mbps download and 30.68Mbps upload as of February 2024, many might wonder if that’s sufficient. After all, this speed only taps into about 20% of what gigabit internet offers.   

On the other hand, households now have an average of over 25 devices connected to a single network. This number has more than doubled since 2019, incorporating smart TVs, gaming consoles, and home automation devices like smart thermostats and security cameras.   

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Reflecting our increasing reliance on the internet, the FCC, in March 2024, raised the benchmark for high-speed broadband. Previously at 25 Mbps, the new standard is 100 Mbps for downloads, signaling a significant shift towards acknowledging our growing demands for faster internet.  

This blog explains gigabit internet, its cost, and the bandwidth required for activities like streaming, video conferencing, and gaming.   

You’ll see that the question isn’t ‘Do I need gigabit internet?’ but rather ‘Do I want gigabit internet?’. Because while it’s possible to manage without it, the real consideration is whether you’d want to, given its benefits.   

What is Gigabit Internet?

Internet terminology can get confusing, especially with similar terms like Gbps and GB floating around. Let’s clear the air:  

  • Gbps stands for gigabits per second, a measure of internet speed. 1 Gbps equals 1000Mbps (megabits per second) 
  • GB (gigabytes) quantifies data size (sizes of documents, photos, updates).  

Think of Gbps as the speed of your car, while GB is how much you can fit in the trunk. 

Gigabit internet, therefore, is an internet speed of 1Gbps (1000Mbps) –  4 times as fast as the national average. 

Cable vs Fiber Gigabit Internet

Additionally, when choosing gigabit internet, you’re likely to encounter two main types:  

  • Cable internet 
  • Fiber internet 

What’s the difference? 

Fiber takes the lead for a few key reasons: symmetrical speeds and low latency. Symmetrical speeds translate to equal upload and download speeds, which is crucial for activities like video conferencing, online gaming, and uploading large files.  

Additionally, fiber internet boasts lower latency than cable, enhancing the overall internet experience by reducing lag in real-time communications and online gaming. While cable internet is fast, it often provides slower upload speeds and higher latency, which could bottleneck your internet traffic. 

do I need gigabit internet

Understanding Gigabit & Multi-Gig Internet Plans

When Internet Service Providers (ISPs) promote a 1Gbps plan, they usually advertise speeds “up to” 1Gbps.  

However, “up to” is the operative phrase here. Actual speeds may vary due to many factors, such as the compatibility of your devices, the layout and materials of your home, and even local electromagnetic interference. These conditions can affect the performance of high-bandwidth activities, making the gigabit experience less consistent for some users. 

But modern internet plans continue beyond 1Gbps. Multi-Gig plans are emerging, offering 5Gbps and even 10Gbps (10G Internet Plans). These plans cater to the most demanding digital needs, preparing households and businesses for future technologies that require substantial bandwidth. 

How Much Does Gigabit Internet Cost?

You can expect to pay between $70 and $80 monthly for standard gigabit plans. For example, a 1Gbps internet plan is priced at $70 at Race Communications.   

If you’re interested in multi-gig plans with speeds of 2Gbps to 10Gbps, be ready to spend above $100. These plans are perfect for tech-savvy users or businesses requiring internet speed and reliability. 

How Much Internet Do You Need?

Below, we share an overview of internet speed required for most common online activities, such as working from home, streaming movies and TV shows, and gaming.  

Even though individual activities don’t demand excessive bandwidth, the requirement can accumulate quickly – especially when we add connected smart home devices to the equation. 

Working from Home (Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, Zoho, Skype)

This section compares the internet speed requirements for popular services like Zoom, Google Meet, and Slack. Aside from video calls, work-from-home activities also include screen sharing and file sharing. 

Platform Download Speed Upload Speed
Zoom 600 Kbps (1:1 High-Quality),
1 Mbps (Group High-Quality)
600 Kbps (1:1 High-Quality),
600 Kbps (Group High-Quality)
Google Meet 4.0 Mbps (HD),
2.0 Mbps (SD)
3.2 Mbps (HD),
2.0 Mbps (SD)
Slack 2 Mbps 600 Kbps
Zoho 2.048 Mbps 20.048 Mbps
Skype 1.5 Mbps HD,
8 Mbps (Group Video)
1.5 Mbps (HD),
512 Kbps (Group Video)

HD needs more bandwidth, particularly for upload speeds, to maintain high-quality video in meetings with multiple participants.

Streaming Services (Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.)

Here’s a simplified table showcasing the recommended download speeds for streaming services in HD and 4K resolutions:

Streaming Service Download Speed (Mbps)
Netflix 3 – 15
Disney+ 5 – 25
Amazon Prime 5
Hulu 3 – 8
Paramount+ 2 – 25
Fubo 7 – 25
Peacock 3 – 8
Sling TV 3 – 25

For HD content, a speed of around 3 to 5 Mbps is generally sufficient across most platforms. In contrast, the requirement jumps significantly for 4K UHD content, with most services recommending 25 Mbps.  

Gaming Consoles 

For gaming consoles, the recommended internet speeds vary based on the console and the type of gaming experience you’re seeking: 

  • Xbox One: 3 Mbps minimum 
  • PlayStation 5: 5 Mbp minimum 
  • Nintendo Switch: 3 Mbps minimum 
  • VR (Virtual Reality) Gaming: 100Mbps – 300Mbps 

For a smooth VR experience, the bandwidth needs to jump significantly. A reliable connection with low latency is crucial. Additionally, using an Ethernet connection rather than Wi-Fi is better because it’s more stable and consistent. 

Gigabit Internet Speeds Up Major Game Updates

Typically, major game updates vary widely, with some updates for large titles reaching up to several gigabytes. Updates for games with extensive content, graphics enhancements, or new chapters could be anywhere from a few hundred megabytes to tens of gigabytes. For reference, Baldur’s Gate 3 Patch 6 measured 21GB in size. 

To illustrate the impact of different internet speeds on downloading game updates, consider a hypothetical scenario where an update is 50 GB: 

  • On a 25Mbps connection, it would take approximately 4.44 hours to download. 
  • On a 1Gbps connection, the download time drops to about 6.67 minutes. 
  • On a 10Gbps connection, you can complete the download in roughly 40 seconds. 

Actual download times depend on network conditions, the server’s capacity, and whether the connection speed can be fully used. 

Do I Need Gigabit Internet?

You might need gigabit internet if you’re a: 

  • Family with numerous devices streaming in 4K simultaneously. 
  • A gamer broadcasting live gameplay on Twitch. 
  • A remote worker relying on stable, high-definition video calls. 
  • A content creator frequently uploading large files. 
  • A tech enthusiast interested in AR/VR, smart home trends, and future digital innovations. 

When it comes to gigabit internet, there is a difference between “needing” and “appreciating”. While the FCC suggests that 100 to 500Mbps suffices for basic online activities for a couple of users, the reality of modern digital life leans towards convenience.  

The rapid advancement in technology, combined with an increasing number of connected devices, makes gigabit internet not just about having what we need but enjoying the luxury of speed. It’s true – you don’t need gigabit internet to stream TV shows or to work from home. But it does offer instantaneous downloads and uploads, eliminates the need for Quality of Service (QoS) management, and lets an entire household be online without any lagging or buffering. 

You Need Special Equipment for Gigabit Internet

To get gigabit or multi-gig internet speeds, you need the right networking equipment: 

  • Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6a routers, optimized for faster speeds, reducing lag, and handling multiple devices. 
  • A Gigabit Ethernet port in your computer for wired connections, especially if you’re aiming for multi-gig speeds. 
  • A network switch capable of supporting multi-gig speeds if you have many wired devices. 

Most ISPs, including Race Communications, provide customers with Wi-Fi 6 routers.

If You Love Efficiency & Comfort, Gigabit is Worth It

The answer to ‘Do I need gigabit internet?’ ultimately depends on your usage patterns and preferences. Monitor your peak data consumption to see whether you want to upgrade to gigabit internet.   

If you value efficiency and instant access to HD content, gigabit internet offers a significant advantage – even if you could technically get by with a lower internet plan. Whether you’re a remote worker, a gaming enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys streaming high-resolution videos, the faster speeds save you a lot of time and make your time online more enjoyable. 

For those interested in taking advantage of gigabit internet, our 1 Gbps plan, priced at $70, offers an excellent balance of affordability and performance. Order today or call us at 877-722-3833 to take your online experience to the next level. 

race communications fiber internet