Gigabit internet is the trendy, new kid on the block. Everyone from my mom in the suburbs to local software company owners are discussing Google Fiber’s move into our neck of the woods. Although it might seem like having ultra-fast Internet is absolutely necessary in your home, the truth is signing up for a gigabit connection just because it’s currently available in your area might not make a whole lot of sense for your particular situation.
On average, U.S. Internet users get about 10Mbps. The 1Gbps provided by a gigabit connection is 100 times faster than this average. The idea of having more speed to load your favorite Netflix series or enjoy a faster online shopping experience might sound great, but do you really need to pay for an Internet connection that is 100 times faster than your current speed to handle your online activity?
Here are five ways you can determine whether or not Gigabit service would be worth the additional cost in your home.
1. Is your computer gigabit capable?
Some Internet users who are stuck on the idea of signing up for an ultra-fast Internet connection with a gigabit service might not even have a computer at home that is capable of delivering the speeds they intend to pay for. That’s why establishing whether or not your computer is even gigabit capable is the essential first step in determining whether or not you should look into a gigabit connection. If your computer and/or devices are not currently gigabit-capable, you will need to upgrade your hardware and operating system to actually get anywhere near gigabit speeds. It’s likely this won’t be worth the time, money, and trouble.
If your computer works on Windows 10, 8, or 7, CNET has a guide you can use to determine whether or not your computer is gigabit-capable.
2. Are you a gamer?
Slow Internet speeds are particularly frustrating when you’re counting on a reliable connection to keep your character alive in a mythical online world. This is why gigabit speeds might actually be worthwhile for avid gamers who are currently frustrated with their speeds. Experts say that speeds around 15 to 20 Mpbs should be plenty sufficient for most gamers, but if you also spend a lot of your time working from home, streaming movies, or streaming music in addition to your gaming activity, or if you live in a home with other gamers, you might want to look into a higher speed.
3. How many devices/users are connected at the same time?
If you live on your own, it’s likely you’re not connecting more than two devices to your Internet at once on most days. However, if you have roommates or a family sharing a home with you, you probably have at least three devices connected at the same time at least once every day. When you bog down your connection with multiple users, you probably notice that speeds slow up quite a bit as you put additional strain on your bandwidth. This is why homes with multiple Internet users might be more likely to need a gigabit connection than homes with just one person who uses the Internet.
4. Do you work from home?
Your Internet speed might be peppy enough to download small files like a few pictures or a Word doc, but many remote workers run into trouble when it comes time to download a large file from their boss or from a client. If you have even an average Internet speed, it can take what seems like ages to download and upload large files. This is why gigabit internet might be something to consider if you work primarily from your home office.
5. What does your streaming behavior look like?
Most of us spend at least one weekend a year binge-watching a whole season on Netflix or Hulu. This type of streaming likely won’t strain your bandwidth enough to slow up your speed. However, if you have multiple devices trying to stream HD content on a regular basis, it’s likely this could slow up your speed a bit by putting excessive strain on your Internet connection.
If you’re constantly trying to stream HD movies while working on your computer and using the WiFi connection to check Facebook and Instagram, you might stand to benefit form a gig connection.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you actually need a 1Gb connection, chances are you probably don’t. However, if you’ve gone through this list and have identified that you fit a few of the descriptions, it’s worth looking into. The price of a gigabit connection can get pretty high, so it will be important to make sure you actually need that much speed before you sign up to pay for it. Hopefully this list will help you get a better idea of whether or not a gigabit connection would be right for you.