Skip the navigation menu
Tips & Tricks

Gigabit Internet Demystified: Everything You Need to Know

A family able to use multiple devices at once thanks to their gigabit Internet.

Are slow Internet speeds dragging you down? Gigabit Internet may be the answer. Learn more about this high-speed Internet solution in our blog.

Everyone hates slow Internet. From choppy video calls to a lagging online game, a bad Internet connection can be extremely frustrating. For some, gigabit Internet has become the answer to all their connectivity woes. But what is gigabit Internet, and do you need it? In this guide, we’ll dive into the mystery and provide you with a roadmap so you can decide whether this high-speed Internet solution is right for you.


What is Considered High-Speed Internet?

Before we look at gigabit Internet, let’s identify the benchmark of what standard “high-speed Internet” actually is.


According to the FCC, a connection with download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps is considered “high-speed” Internet. However, that definition was put out in 2015 — a definition that grows increasingly outdated and inaccurate as technology advances. With streaming, online gaming, working from home, and smart home devices becoming more and more commonplace in the average household, the need for fast, reliable Internet grows.


The FCC’s definition of high-speed Internet only covers web browsing, email, and basic video streaming, falling incredibly short of anything more Internet-intensive like online gaming or supporting multiple Internet users at once.


What is Gigabit Internet?

Gigabit Internet refers to an Internet connection with a data transfer rate of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). It is also commonly referred to as "1 Gbps", "1 Gig", or "1000 Mbps" (megabits per second).


To put it into perspective, a gigabit Internet connection is about 100 times faster than a typical residential broadband connection, which usually ranges from 100 to 200 Mbps. With gigabit Internet, you can download and upload data at incredibly high speeds, allowing for faster web browsing, smoother streaming of high-definition videos, and quicker downloads and uploads of large files.


What’s the Difference Between Cable and Fiber Gigabit Internet?

Cable and Fiber gigabit Internet are two different types of technologies that provide high-speed Internet connectivity, though there are several key differences between them.


Cable Internet uses coaxial cables to transmit data. It operates on the same infrastructure as Cable TV services. Data is sent over coaxial cables to a modem in your home, which then distributes the Internet connection to your devices.


Fiber Internet, also known as Fiber-Optic Internet, uses Fiber-Optic cables to transmit data. These cables use thin strands of glass or plastic to transmit data as pulses of light. The data is sent directly to a modem or an optical network terminal (ONT) in your home.


Speed and Bandwidth

Cable Internet can offer high speeds, including gigabit speeds, with download and upload speeds up to 1 Gbps. However, the actual speeds can be affected by network congestion and the number of users sharing the Cable infrastructure in your area.


Fiber Internet is known for delivering symmetrical speeds, meaning the download and upload speeds are typically the same. Fiber gigabit Internet can provide both high download and upload speeds of up to 1 Gbps and higher. It offers greater consistency and reliability, even during peak usage times.


Latency and Reliability

Cable Internet can experience higher latency (or lag) compared to Fiber Internet. This can result in slightly slower response times during activities such as online gaming or video conferencing. Cable connections can also be affected by external factors like signal interference or distance from the provider's infrastructure.


Fiber Internet offers lower latency due to the speed of light transmission through Fiber-Optic cables. This makes it more suitable for latency-sensitive applications like online gaming, video conferencing, and real-time streaming. Fiber connections are generally more reliable and less susceptible to signal degradation over long distances.


Do You Need Gigabit Internet?

Most households enjoy smooth Internet performance with average high-speed Internet connections. Speeds in the range of 100–200 Mbps are typically sufficient for most typical online activities, including video streaming and web browsing.


That being said, gigabit Internet can be beneficial for households or businesses with multiple devices and users who engage in activities that require substantial bandwidth, such as online gaming, video conferencing, cloud computing, and large-scale file sharing. It provides a significant improvement in overall Internet performance and responsiveness.


If you do a considerable amount of video editing or work with large sets of data files, for example, gigabit Internet would make sense for you. Likewise, most modern video games benefit from higher Internet speeds, both to download the base game as well as to download any patches or updates. It goes without saying that if you enjoy live streaming content, such as these newer video games, gigabit Internet would make that a seamless possibility.


6 Things to Consider Before Getting Gigabit Internet

While gigabit Internet offers extremely high speeds, whether a typical household needs it depends on several factors. Here are some considerations to help you determine if gigabit Internet is necessary for your household.

1. Internet Usage

Evaluate the online activities of your household members. If you and other members of your household frequently engage in bandwidth-intensive activities like streaming 4K or 8K videos, online gaming, or downloading and uploading large files, gigabit Internet can significantly enhance your experience by reducing buffering, latency, and download times.

2. Number of Users and Devices

Consider the number of people using the Internet simultaneously in your household and the number of devices connected. If you have multiple users streaming videos, scrolling social media, or working from home, gigabit Internet can ensure that everyone gets sufficient bandwidth without experiencing slowdowns or lag. In general, you should allow for 25 Mbps for each person in your household that uses WiFi at the minimum.


Learn more: How Many Mbps Does My Family Need?

3. Router and Modem Limitations

It's important to remember that not all routers and modems can fully utilize gigabit Internet speeds. To make the most of your Internet experience, you'll need a broadband router with multi-gigabit ports that can handle the speeds effectively. Before considering an upgrade, verify whether your current equipment is compatible, and if it isn't, or you aren't sure, contact your ISP for recommendations on compatible devices.

 4. Actual Speed

A 1 Gbps speed claim represents the maximum service capability for that package. Actual Internet speed may vary due to a number of factors, including site traffic, server capacity, and device limitations.

5. Future-Proofing

Think about your future Internet needs. As technology advances and new applications emerge that demand higher bandwidth, having gigabit Internet can provide headroom for growth. If you anticipate an increase in your household's Internet usage or plan to adopt new technologies that rely on fast and reliable Internet connectivity, it might be worth considering gigabit Internet.

6. Cost

Gigabit Internet tends to be more expensive than lower-speed options. Evaluate your budget and weigh the cost against your household's actual needs. If slower Internet speeds meet your requirements, you might want to opt for a more affordable plan.


Fast Lane to the Future

Gigabit Internet is the next step toward a future of high-speed Internet connectivity. When choosing between cable and Fiber gigabit Internet, consider factors such as your location, specific Internet needs, and the availability of providers in your area. While both technologies can offer gigabit speeds, Fiber generally provides lower latency, higher reliability, and symmetrical upload and download speeds, making it the preferred choice for demanding Internet applications.


Considering an Internet upgrade? Check out plans from Glo Fiber. We’ve got plans from 600 Mbps up to 5 Gbps so you can future-proof your home and enjoy fast, reliable connectivity.


You might also like: