What Are the Different Internet Speeds?

By Chris Moore

There are different speeds at which one's Internet access can run. The speed determines how much data, measured in kilobits, that the computer can download at a given time. The equipment and connection you have to the computer determines your Internet speed, whether it's a basic dial-up connection, broadband through cable or DSL, or fiber optics.

28K Dial-Up

The slowest Internet dial-up speed is 28K, or 28.8 kbps. This is measured in kilobits per second, and there are 8 kilobytes in every kilobit. It takes just under 30 seconds to download 800 kilobits of information. This is the minimum speed of dial-up modems today. Most people who are getting speeds of only 28K are usually doing so because of problems with their phone line or modem.

56K Dial-Up

56K is the maximum speed of all dial-up modems, and it is the speed these modems should run at if they and the phone lines they are connected to work properly. The speed is actually 53.3 kbps, which is close to double the 28.8K speed. Modems running at this speed will download 800 kilobits of data in 15 seconds. With greater internet speeds constantly being developed, dial-up speeds are barely even advertised by providers.

Basic Cable/DSL Speeds

The basic speeds provided by cable and DSL broadband can vary. The lowest speed for cable/DSL is 384 kbps, which is more than seven times the highest speed of dial-up. This speed will download 400 kilobits of data in a single second. Medium cable/DSL speed is twice as fast at 768 kilobits per second.


The highest speed offered by cable and DSL Internet measures at 1,500 kbps, nearly twice the speed of medium cable/DSL service. While cable and DSL are competing services, the actual speed of each is relatively similar. Cable can sometimes be a little faster than DSL. However, DSL customers seem to have a higher rate of satisfaction and fewer problems with their service than cable.

T1 and T3

T1 and T3 are the fastest available Internet speeds. T1 speed is 1,544 kbps, which is very close to the fastest speed for cable/DSL. However, this means T1 is more likely to reach that speed. T3 is nearly four times the speed of T1 at 6,000 kbps. T1 and T3 require the use of a fiber optic phone line to travel at these speeds, which can be 60 times greater than that of a standard dial-up modem.