Is It Worth It to Pay for Higher Internet Speeds?

If slow downloading speeds are cramping your style, a higher-speed connection may be the answer.
... Martin Poole/Photodisc/Getty Images

Accessing the Internet has become so much a part of everyday life that many people want to be connected at all times – and therein lies the problem. Not all Internet connections are created equal, and some Web applications are far ahead of the speeds that many connect with. Higher-speed connections are available to improve the user experience – at a price.

1 A Costly Choice

Getting a faster Internet connection may sound attractive, but it isn’t cheap. To receive the highest speeds, you may have to pay hundreds of dollars more per month for access. If you’re using the Internet just to surf around and check your email, a faster Internet speed may not be worth the money. But if the Internet is a critical part of your home, school or work, and if you place a lot of demands on your connectivity, it's worth analyzing whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

2 High-bandwidth Activities

Higher Internet speeds may be worth the money if you’re using it for activities that take up a lot of bandwidth. If you stream a lot of movies or watch a lot of YouTube videos, for example, a high-speed connection cuts down on the frustrating buffering times. Those who play graphics-intensive online games may also appreciate not having to worry about a connecting dropping at a critical time. If you have to upload and download large files, a higher-speed connection cuts those times considerably. If you use Skype, FaceTime or other video chat applications, it could allow you to get the most out of those video calls.

3 Household Usage

Your Internet experience is determined in part by the number of people who share your connection and what they use it for. If you share a house with eight other people who all use the Internet to stream videos after studying, your experience is going to be worse than someone who doesn’t have to share the same connection. In those cases, a higher-speed connection may be worth it, especially if you can spread the expense around.

4 Peak Periods

Internet speeds tend to be slower during peak times. In general, that’s from 7 to 11 at night, when many come home from work or school and go online. Peak times in your community may be different, however, so take notice of any patterns that indicate service slows during a particular time. If that slowdown conflicts with your needs, a higher-speed connection may solve your problems.