What Does 6 Mbps High-Speed Internet Mean?

By Lou Martin

At the time of publication, three types of consumer Internet connections fit into the category of "high-speed" connections: DSL, cable and fiber optic. Megabits per second (Mbps) is the standard by which computers and mobile devices measure data transfer rates associated with downloading data from the Internet in per-second increments. Currently, high-speed connections that download data at a rate of 6 Mbps are produced by two of these types of connections.

What It Means

Data's smallest unit of measure is the bit. A megabit is roughly equal to one million bits. A bit is one binary digit of data and represents two states of information, such as "yes" and "no." A kilobit is made up of 1,024 bits and a megabit is comprised of 1,024 kilobits. A high-speed Internet connection that downloads data at 6 Mbps, therefore, means about 6 million bits of data are streaming into your computer each second. On the receiving end, this rate of data transfer is facilitated by Wi-Fi technology and 3G network protocols, such as those contained on mobile phones.

High-Speed Internet Connections

Presently, DSL high-speed Internet connections are made through an existing phone line and produce download rates between 768 kilobits per second and 7.1 Mbps. High-speed cable connections, on the other hand, are made through a cable TV line and download data between 4 Mbps and 20 Mbps. Fiber optic connections are achieved through fiber optic lines and transfer downloaded content at rates of 10 Mbps to 50 Mbps. Fiber optic connections are commonly made by large businesses and are rare in the private sector. A high-speed Internet connection in the U.S. that downloads data at 6 Mbps is generally attained using either DSL or cable service.

Wireless Network

Another connection that's capable of downloading data at 6 Mbps is the 3G network protocol known as High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). HSDPA is commonly found on mobile phones, such as the LG Optimus T, and produces download speeds of up to 21 Mbps. In theory, HSDPA is capable of these speeds, but real-world estimates put the rates in the area of 5 to 10 Mbps. The standards used in Wi-Fi technology are also capable of achieving speeds of 6 Mbps.


Based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' 802.11 standards, Wi-Fi is the brand name of wireless networking technology produced by the Wi-Fi Alliance. As of the date of publication, the 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n standards are used by mobile phones and computers that access the Internet. While the 802.11b standard is capable of sustaining speeds of up to 11 Mbps, the 802.11a and 802.11g standards can facilitate rates of up to 54 Mbps. The 802.11n standard is the newest member of the Wi-Fi family and can handle speeds of up to 121 Mbps. Each of the Wi-Fi standards is capable of supporting download rates of 6 Mbps and can be considered as high-speed Internet connections.