How Fast is Gigabit Internet? (And 5 Reasons Why You Might Need It)

Gigabit internet kicks your speed up to 1,000 Mbps and is one of the fastest internet options out right now. But is it worth the extra cost? Maybe not.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Gigabit internet is the fastest type of broadband internet available to both consumers and businesses. Also referred to as gig speed, it clocks in at 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). Gigabit’s fast speeds give you the power to download videos in less than half a second and can vastly transform your day-to-day work and leisure.

In this article, we’ll explain what gigabit internet is (without getting super technical), what it’s best for, and how to get it.

Need gigabit internet for WFH? You may want a VPN service too. A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet connection and hides your IP address to make it harder for hackers to target you. We wouldn't use public Wi-Fi without one, so check out our list of the best VPN apps we trust to protect our network.

In this article
What is gigabit internet?
What can you use gigabit internet for?
What do you need to get gigabit internet?
What doesn’t need gigabit internet?
Who offers gigabit internet?
FAQs about gigabit internet
Bottom line

What is gigabit internet?

Gigabit internet is really fast internet service. It sends data at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). 1 gigabit is equal to 1,000 megabits.

For context, the national average internet speed is just over 119 Mbps, which makes gigabit internet nearly 10 times faster for sending or receiving information.

Gigabit internet has technically been around since the late 1990s, but only became readily available to everyday consumers and businesses in the U.S. around 2016.

The main reason gigabit internet service is so fast is because it’s delivered via fiber-optic cables, as opposed to copper wiring, which is what DSL and cable internet use.

Fiber internet comes with matching download and upload speeds

If your gig internet plan uses fiber-optic cables, you should see symmetrical, or matching, download and upload speeds. That’s excellent news for anyone who needs to upload large files on a regular basis.

What can you use gigabit internet for?

High-speed internet lets you browse and stream at unbelievably fast speeds. It’s particularly appealing and useful for the activities listed below:

Watch videos and shows

Whether you love to binge-watch Netflix or YouTube, it’s very frustrating to have a video buffer or take forever to load. If you or other members of your household love to stream video content, a gigabit internet connection can make it so that multiple people can watch their favorite shows without any annoying buffering.

Play online games

Online gaming shows no signs of slowing down in popularity—and if you’re a gamer, you probably already knew that. Lower internet speeds can have trouble keeping up with the higher bandwidth required for popular online games, and as a result, you may experience lag and slow load times.

If your internet regularly impedes your ability to play online games, gigabit internet is worth looking into.

Clear up video calls

Video calls are much more common after the pandemic caused a massive pivot to remote and hybrid work. If you work from home and need to take video meetings, a gigabit internet connection will help reduce any lag, freezes, and other technical issues that many of us have come to know all too well.

If your current internet plan is affecting your ability to take work calls uninterrupted, we suggest talking to your employer about potentially subsidizing the cost of a gigabit internet plan.

Move files with ease

Uploading and downloading large files can take what seems like forever, but with gigabit internet, you can download a two-hour HD movie in as little as 25 seconds. Consider switching to gigabit internet if you regularly download or upload huge files.

Powering your smart home

It’s easy to forget that your home security system and smart devices, such as door locks and lights, require bandwidth too. If you’ve kitted out your home with the latest smart gadgets, gig speeds can ensure the rest of your devices, including work laptops and kids’ smartphones, stay connected at fast speeds.

Upload video content

If you enjoy uploading videos to various social media platforms, gigabit internet can speed up your workflow drastically, enabling you to push more content out at a faster rate.

What do you need to get gigabit internet?

In order to get gigabit internet for your home or business, you’ll need to upgrade your internet plan with your current provider or switch providers if a gigabit option is not available. In addition, you’ll also need to:

  • Check if your router supports gigabit Ethernet. Not all routers are equipped to handle gigabit speeds. Check your router’s manufacturer website or your internet service provider to find out whether yours is compatible. You may also need a new modem from your internet provider.
  • Set up your router’s 5 GHz band. Most modern routers are dual-band, which means they support 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequencies. 5 GHz is the faster and more powerful of the two and is more well-suited for gigabit connections. Make sure you have a 5 GHz network set up before getting a gigabit plan.
  • Update your devices. If you’ve been putting off installing the latest update on your phone, tablet, or computer, you should make sure to update your devices before installing gigabit internet. This will help your devices perform optimally while they’re connected.
  • Update your router’s firmware. In the same vein, update your router’s firmware if it’s out of date to ensure its best performance. Check your router’s manufacturer website to ensure you have the latest version installed.

What doesn’t need gigabit internet?

Although gigabit internet is nice to have, it’s not at all necessary for doing certain everyday online activities. And if you don’t need gig speeds to get online, you could save a pretty penny by choosing an internet plan with slower speeds.

Checking emails

Unless you’re emailing huge files all day every day, you don’t need a gigabit internet connection to send emails. Checking your email doesn’t require a large amount of bandwidth.

Browsing websites

Browsing the web is nothing a regular internet connection can’t handle. If you mainly use the internet to browse various websites, you don’t need to invest in gigabit internet.

Using social media

Casually scrolling and posting on social media is another activity that doesn’t call for gigabit internet.

The main caveat here is if you’re a content creator who regularly uploads video content to platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. If that’s the case, gigabit internet may make your job faster and easier.

Who offers gigabit internet?

You can get a gigabit internet plan from several of the major internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S. Keep in mind that internet providers can vary based on where you live—not all of the providers below may be available in your area.

U.S. gigabit internet providers

Provider Gigabit plans Price Download speed
AT&T Fiber 1 Gig, 2 Gig, 5 Gig $80–$180/mo. 1–5 Gbps
Frontier Fiber Gig, Fiber 2 Gig $74.99–$149.99/mo. 1–2 Gbps
Google Fiber 1 Gig, 2 Gig $70–$100/mo. 1–2 Gbps
Spectrum Internet Gig $89.99/mo. 1 Gbps
Verizon Fios 1 Gig $89.99/mo. 1 Gbps
Comcast Xfinity Gigabit $79.99/mo. 1.2 Gbps

How can you secure your gigabit internet?

If you're working from home, securing your internet connection is likely a concern — especially if you work with customer's personal data. A VPN is a cost-effective way to encrypt your Wi-Fi so no one can see your online activity or the data you work with. Here are some of the most affordable VPN services we recommend:

  • Private Internet Access (PIA): One of the cheapest full-service VPNs out there, PIA's cost starts at a couple of bucks a month. Despite the low cost, it comes with plenty of security features and even includes MACE, an ad and malware blocker for further protection.

    See PIA Plans | Read Our PIA Review
  • Privado VPN: If you're eyeing a free VPN, be sure to stick with reputable services that don't sell your data. Privado is one such service that offers a free plan and 10 GB of monthly data. You can connect to 10 different countries on the free plan, so if you want to watch a little U.K. Netflix while you work, have at it.

    See Privado VPN Plans | Read Our Privado VPN Review

Save 82% on a 2-year subscription + 2 months free
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Private Internet Access's website
Private Internet Access
  • VPN offering fast internet speeds and strict no-logs policy
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming services
  • Antivirus and dedicated IP address cost extra

FAQs about gigabit internet


Is 1000 Mbps internet worth it?

Gigabit internet (1,000 Mbps) can be worth it if you have a household or office with many connected devices or if you need to do activities that require a high bandwidth on a regular basis. Such activities include streaming, gaming, and uploading video content. If these don’t apply to your situation, speeds of 1,000 Mbps are probably not necessary.


What’s the difference between megabit and megabyte?

The main difference between megabits and megabytes is that megabits are used to refer to and measure internet upload and download speeds, whereas megabytes are more commonly used to describe file sizes or storage capacity.


Which is faster, Mbps or gigabit?

One gigabit is equal to 1,000 Mbps. If you see that an internet plan is measured in gigabits instead of megabits, it’s safe to assume that it’s faster than other plans on the market that are measured in megabits.

Bottom line

Gigabit internet can help you do so much more online at a faster speed. Whether you’re on Zoom calls all day or have multiple people in your household playing Minecraft, a gigabit internet connection can help you stay more well-connected.

Still not sure what internet speed is best for you? We’ve listed the ideal speeds for common online activities to help you gauge whether your current plan meets our recommendations. And check out our list of the fastest VPN providers to secure your connection and maintain your fast internet speeds.

Customizable Coverage That is Simple to Use
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordVPN's website
Up to 66% off 2-year plans + 3 months extra
  • Ultra-secure, high-speed VPN complete with malware protection and automatic blocking of intrusive ads and third-party trackers
  • Other benefits include a premium password manager, dark web monitoring, and access to IP-restricted content
  • 3 plans to choose from for custom protection on up to 10 devices
  • Too many confusing plans

Author Details
Emily is a New York-based writer pursuing her lifelong passion of writing about technology. A social media and ecommerce expert, she explores the relationship between tech and privacy, as well as its impact on business and culture.