Is 100Mbps Fast?

It’s the season four premiere of that show. While everyone settles in with snacks and supplies, the unthinkable happens, and your video buffers. Netflix recommends 15Mbps for 4K ultra high definition (UHD) streaming and while, in theory, your 100Mbps internet plan should have you covered, there are other factors to consider.

For instance, did you share your Wi-Fi password with your guests, and are they all watching videos while the kids are in their rooms, gaming and streaming? This could cause a bottleneck and make your 100Mbps seem like dial-up internet from the nineties. A 100Mbps internet plan is fast, but there are limitations to what it can support.

This guide offers insight into what to expect from a 100Mbps internet plan, which online activities that speed can support, and how to get the best out of your connection.

What 100mbps can support

For many households and small businesses, 100Mbps is sufficient to cover average needs. That doesn’t mean that 100Mbps will suit everyone. It’s important to know what types of activities various internet speeds will support before deciding what’s best for your home or business.

  • Up to 5Mbps – This is a basic, low-demand range that can comfortably support a single user who simply wants to browse online, check emails, and stream from a single device.
  • 5 to 40Mbps – This speed can support up to three people streaming and one smart home device.
  • 40 to 100Mbps – These speeds can accommodate 4K streaming on a few devices, although it’s recommended to opt for 100Mbps when adding gaming to the mix. This range is suitable for small offices that have moderate internet needs and can support up to four simultaneous video calls.
  • 500Mbps to 1Gbps – This is a very fast internet connection suited to high-demand households and small businesses that require access to high-speed downloads. These speeds are also ideal for smart homes that run around five smart devices.
  • 1Gbps+ – A speed solution for high-demand internet users, this speed is ideal for multiple users who wish to stream in 4K simultaneously or gamers who want to improve their play experience. Also, this speed is an option for small businesses that require access to video streaming for multiple users, such as production companies.

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How fast is 100Mbps?

It helps to know a little about the math behind internet speeds and how that may impact you as a user. A visualization of the speed makes this easier.

One megabyte consists of eight megabits, and that means if you download a 100-megabyte file, it will take you eight seconds. here are some practical examples of what you can do with your 100Mbps connection:

  • Up to 100 users can use the line for general browsing that requires up to 1Mbps.
  • Around 40 devices can use this line to stream videos at low quality (720p high-definition or HD, which is the standard display resolution that consists of 1280×720 pixels).
  • It takes roughly one minute to download a standard definition (SD) movie.
  • High-graphic PC or console games can take about an hour to download.
  • Mobile apps take a few seconds to download.

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The difference between upload and download speeds

An important thing to note is that when you look at offers from internet companies on their 100Mbps plans, it usually only highlights the download speed. Upload speeds are usually significantly less, and for content creators such as vloggers, a line speed that supports higher upload speeds is important.

Some fiber ISPs—AT&T, Verizon, and Frontier—have packages that offer high upload speeds that are the same or close to the download speeds. Download speeds are important for browsing, streaming, and reading content. In contrast, upload speeds matter to those who post video content online, do a lot of file sharing on cloud-based storage, or participate in video conferencing.

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Key considerations when it comes to internet speed

Choosing a speed for your personal or business use should be about more than just opting for the popular choice. There are many things that determine a good user experience.

The cost of available internet packages

A small household with around two or three users with moderate internet demands such as streaming 4K videos and one or two smart devices can easily get away with a line speed of around 100Mbps. However, if there isn’t much of a price difference, getting a faster speed shouldn’t be considered overkill.

Internet demands could change at any time. You may, for example, add more devices, set up some smart home automation, or need to work or attend school from home.

It’s a smart move to keep an eye out for deals that make financial sense instead of automatically choosing the speed that exactly matches your needs. At times, you may find some providers charge more for lower speeds or more dated technologies. For instance, EarthLink offers a 100Mbps DSL plan for $59.95/month, whereas Verizon Fios fiber will cost around $39.99/month for 300Mbps.

The number of devices

Lower internet speeds of up to 50Mbps can typically accommodate up to three devices, while 100Mbps speeds suit around six devices. However, that depends on what it’s used for. If six devices stream 4K videos simultaneously, there might be some buffering. The 100Mbps speed is suitable for 4K streaming for up to four devices.

If your setup is only for low-level browsing, you can accommodate up to a hundred devices. The moment a larger file size comes into play, such as HD video, the speed needs to increase, or the number of users needs to decrease.

Any household gaming needs

Depending on the game type, some gamers are content with lower speeds and can still enjoy an immersive experience. However, high-demand games that involve additional requirements such as big file downloads and chat services do better with more bandwidth, so speed becomes essential. It’s also worth investing in a higher speed when there are multiple gamers in the same household. A 100Mbps line can easily accommodate two to three users, depending on how many other online services they run while they’re gaming.

But that’s not all. Gamers also need the ping rate to be as low as possible. Ping is the latency of the internet connection and the speed with which your device receives an answer when you send a request for data. For serious gamers, a ping rate of under 1 millisecond is ideal. Moderate gamers can still have a great experience with ping rates up to 2 milliseconds. When the ping rate starts rising over this, the gaming experience drops and can dramatically affect the game’s outcome.

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Cost of a 100Mbps internet plan

The cost of a 100Mbps internet package can range from as little as $25 to as much as $105. There are also many ISPs that offer 100Mbps plans, which makes it worth your while to compare options from ISPs in your area. A few examples of 100Mbps packages currently offered in the US include:

  • CenturyLink offers up to 100Mbps at $50/month with a data cap of 1TB on a copper/DSL line.
  • EarthLink’s 100Mbps DSL line is $59.99/month with no data cap.
  • Mediacom offers a 100Mbps cable connection for $29.99/month, with a 1TB data cap.
  • Astound Broadband by RCN’s 100Mbps cable plan is $19.99/month and has no data cap.
  • Xfinity Performance’s 100Mbps cable plan is $83.95/month and has no data cap.

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How your router affects internet speed

It’s important to note that your service provider sets the speed and bandwidth and a router can’t increase speeds beyond those parameters. That said, the router can limit your line speed if it’s not compatible with the maximum speed if your internet plan. For instance, some routers can only support line speeds up to certain amounts.

That means even with a 1Gbps plan, you’ll only have access to the router’s maximum speeds, and if it’s 100Mbps, you’ll only get a maximum of 100Mbps even if you upgrade to a 1Gbps plan. If you decide to purchase a router, you should think about your future internet needs and plan ahead if you ever anticipate needing more than 100Mbps.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is 100Mbps a good speed for gaming?

100Mbps can easily support gaming but this will largely depend on the internet usage of the household. For instance, if multiple people are gaming or streaming videos in 4K at once, that can reduce speed. It’s also important that other elements of gameplay are in place to maximize the experience, such as low ping. Two to three gamers should be able to enjoy optimal gameplay with a 100Mbps plan.

Is a 100Mbps line fast enough for a small business?

The business’s internet needs will determine whether this speed is sufficient. Companies that only use the internet for low-level browsing that includes the occasional HD video can accommodate a few dozen users. Without video, this number can increase substantially and will depend on whether the ISP can produce a constant line speed of 100Mbps with no dips.

Why is my speed test lower than my 100Mbps internet plan?

Choosing a 100Mbps broadband plan doesn’t guarantee that the line speed is exactly 100Mbps all the time. ISPs often include in their wording “up to” to indicate that that is the maximum line speed provided on that package. However, if the line speed is consistently lower than 100Mbps, it’s worth giving the ISP a call to drop the package if it’s going to save you money. On the flip side, some users might even get slightly higher speeds, such as 105Mbps or 110Mbps.

Should I choose fiber, cable, DSL, or satellite for my 100Mbps line?

The type of internet options you can choose from depend on the availability of service providers in your area and cost. Both cable and DSL are considered the cheapest broadband internet options.

Fiber is next on the list, and users can expect to pay at least 10% more than DSL or cable. This cost might go down in time as fiber installations are on the rise, reducing infrastructure costs.

Sattelite is the most expensive option, and users will pay a premium price for 100Mbps. 100Mbps is around the maximum internet speed satellite can offer and this largely depends on external factors such as distance, the angles of the sending and receiving satellites, and the weather.

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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 6/21/22.

Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.