Whether you’re streaming video, connecting to a video conference, or loading up your online shopping cart, a fast internet connection is essential. And the more devices you connect – your wearable step tracker, virtual assistant, tablet, home security camera, thermostat – the more speed you need for them to function seamlessly at the same time.
But which internet service providers (ISPs) are the fastest for residential customers? How much speed does your household really need? And what should you expect in terms of cost, equipment, and installation? Get the answers and see which providers have the Fastest Internet Plans of 2020 in our comprehensive guide.
This review of the fastest internet plans contains the following sections:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines high-speed internet, or broadband, as having a minimum download speed (how fast you receive data) of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and a minimum upload speed (how fast you send data) of 3 Mbps. Mbps is a measurement of how fast data travels through an internet connection.
Up until recently, not everyone had access to a broadband connection. That’s changing due to an FCC initiative. In a recent report, the FCC stated that the number of rural Americans with access to broadband service with download/upload speeds of at least 250 Mbps/25 Mbps increased by more than 85% in 2017.
In the past three decades, internet speed has exploded. In 1994, the web was metaphorically as fast as a walking ant at a mere 0.028 Mbps, explains The Internet & Television Association (NCTA). Speed jumped in the early 2000s with the introduction of the cable modem. By 2005, the internet was as fast as a high-speed train at 8 Mbps. And by 2016, it was reaching speeds as fast as 2 gigabits per second (Gbps), or as fast as the Voyager 1 satellite orbiting the earth, says the industry group.
Today, internet speed is more important than ever. American adults spend 3.7 hours a day online at home, according to Leichtman Research Group. And 50% of Americans with internet access watch video online daily, finds Bruce Leichtman, a broadband industry authority who heads Leichtman Research Group. We’re also connecting more devices – smartphones, appliances, wearables – to the internet. Networking company Cisco says 13.6 connected devices will exist for every person in the U.S. by 2023.
“That all adds up to more usage, which means that a consumer wants a service that not only is faster but consistent across all devices in the home,” says Leichtman.