Understand internet speeds

Many factors affect the internet service you purchased from AT&T. Learn how these factors affect your internet speed.

Internet speed

Your service capability speed (internet speed) is the rate we deliver internet traffic to and from your location. Many factors affect your internet service from AT&T and influence the speed you may experience on any device connected to your network.

Data and content you send or receive travels many paths before reaching their final destination and returning back to you:

  • Through wiring in your location or over your Wi-Fi®
  • Between your connected computers and devices and your modem, gateway, or hub
  • Through the network interface device (NID) located outside your building to the AT&T network (if you are using a wired connection) or from your gateway to the cell tower (if you are using AT&T Internet AirTM)
  • From the AT&T broadband network or AT&T Wireless network to the internet, which has millions of private networks
  • Through various Internet Service Provider (ISP) networks used by websites to send you content

Remember that the speed to your homelocation is shared among all the devices connected to your home network – including any devices connected via Wi-Fi. So the number of devices connected and the activity on those devices will impact the speeds you may experience.

Internet speed

Each internet service option has a different service capability speed range. The term speed describes the rate a particular broadband internet access service can transmit data. This capacity is measured by the number of kilobits (Kbps), megabits (Mbps), or gigabits (Gbps) that can be transmitted in one second.

Some applications don’t need higher speeds to work at their best. Examples of these applications include sending short emails without attachments or basic web browsing. Other activities perform better with higher-speed services. This includes transferring large data files or streaming high-definition video. 

Lower speeds may not work for some applications, especially those involving real-time or high-bandwidth uses such as streaming video or video conferencing.


Speed tiers

Wired network

AT&T Fiber
AT&T Fiber® is an ultra-fast broadband technology. It’s delivered over a fiber optic connection to the premises. Or, it’s delivered to units within certain multi-dwelling units (MDU). All speed tiers are symmetrical.

AT&T Speed TierExpected Speeds1 (in Mbps)
Internet 555
Internet 101010
Internet 252525
Internet 505050
Internet 100100100
Internet 300300300
Internet 500500500
Internet 100010001000
Internet 200020002000
Internet 5000250005000

AT&T Internet (IPBB)
AT&T Internet is sometimes collectively described as Internet Protocol Broadband (IPBB) and includes ADSL2+, VDSL2, G.Fast, and Ethernet technologies. These are delivered to the premises using a combination of fiber optic and copper hybrid equipment. All speed tiers are asymmetrical, or the download and upload speeds are different.

AT&T Speed Tier Expected Speeds1 (in Mbps)
Internet Basic 7680.80.4
Internet Basic 1.51.51
Internet Basic 331
Internet Basic 551
Internet Basic 661
Internet 10101
Internet 12121.5
Internet 18181.5
Internet 24243
Internet 25252
Internet 25255
Internet 45456
Internet 505010
Internet 75758
Internet 757520
Internet 10010020
Internet 500500100

AT&T DSL uses Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line technology and copper lines to deliver service to the premises over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). All speed tiers are asymmetrical.

AT&T Speed Tier Expected Speeds1 (in Mbps)
FastAccess DSL Lite, Fast Access DSL Direct Lite, High Speed Internet Basic0.7680.256
FastAccess DSL Ultra, Fast Access DSL Direct Ultra, High Speed Internet Express1.50.256
FastAccess DSL Xtreme, Fast Access DSL Direct Xtreme, High Speed Internet Pro30.384
FastAccess DSL XtremePro, Fast Access DSL Direct XtremePro, High Speed Internet Elite60.512

Wireless network

AT&T Internet Air
AT&T Internet Air is a fixed wireless service delivered to the premises over the AT&T wireless network. It uses 4G LTE and 5G technology to connect to wireless antennas in the AT&T All-FiTM Hub.

 Expected Speeds3 (in Mbps)
Internet AirDownloadUpload
75 - 22510 - 30

AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet
Fixed Wireless is a fixed wireless service delivered to the premises over the AT&T wireless network. It uses 4G LTE to connect to an outdoor antenna at your location.

 Expected Speeds4 (in Mbps)
Fixed Wireless Internet (LTE)DownloadUpload

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Speed factors

AT&T networks

We deliver internet to your location through copper or fiber wiring or through the AT&T wireless network, depending on the service you ordered.

  • DSL and lower broadband services are usually wired using copper.
  • Most high-speed broadband services (IPBB) deliver internet through a hybrid fiber and copper network.
  • AT&T Fiber delivers internet directly to your location using a 100% fiber network.
  • AT&T Internet Air and Fixed Wireless Internet deliver internet over the AT&T wireless network, using 4G LTE and 5G technology.

Networks can be impacted by the condition and quality of the connection to your home and the geography in which your home is located.

  • Copper networks can be impacted by the distance between your home and the central office from which your internet service is provisioned.
  • Wireless networks can be impacted by your distance from the cell tower serving the wireless network, the capacity and technology of the antennas on the cell tower and on the receiver you’re using, and the number of users connected to the same cell tower. 

Home network

Many factors inside your building affect the rate you send or receive internet data. These include:

  • Age of wiring inside your building
  • Distance between the gateway or hub and your device
  • Age and type of gateway, hub, or router
  • Number of devices connected to the gateway or hub
  • Type of connection used: wired or Wi-Fi

Connection types

You can access your internet through a wired Ethernet connection or a Wi-Fi® connection.

Wired connections use Ethernet cables plugged into the Ethernet port on your wall or Wi-Fi gateway. These connections provide the best performance, consistently. We recommend using a Cat5e or better Ethernet cable.

To reach speeds above 1Gbps, you must use at least a Cat6 cable plus an Ethernet port rated for multi-Gbps speeds. Some older Ethernet cables, ports, routers, and gateways may not be capable of supporting speeds above 1Gbps to a single device. This includes Ethernet wiring in some older buildings.

Speeds are shared among all the devices connected to your Wi-Fi gateway or All-Fi Hub.  So more devices connecting at the same time may result in slower speeds.

Wireless (Wi-Fi) connections let you move throughout your building but aren’t as fast as wired connections. Wi-Fi connection speeds depend on the Wi-Fi technology in your device and in your gateway or hub. You get the best Wi-Fi signal closest to your gateway or hub, with fewer devices running, using the latest Wi-Fi technology. Older devices and older gateways use older Wi-Fi technology, which run at slower speeds. Wi-Fi speeds are shared among all the devices connected to the gateway or hub by Wi-Fi, so more devices connected at the same time may result in slower speeds.

Type and number of devices

Internet devices come in all shapes and sizes. Each device has a maximum internet speed it can reach. But, that speed might not be as fast as your possible internet service level. For example, if your older laptop or tablet only supports 11Mbps and you have 1Gbps internet service, your laptop will never be able to reach the more than 11 Mbps.

When a device connects to your network, it uses a portion of your allotted speed. Several devices sharing your internet connection can affect the speed each device experiences.

TV and internet speed

In some cases, your TV and internet may enter your location using the same terminal. Using both services at the same time consumes more available bandwidth and can affect internet download speeds. For example, in certain speed tiers, watching multiple HD TV shows at the same time as heavy data internet usage, such as downloading an entire HD movie file on your laptop, will lead to reduced internet speeds as compared with such speeds when no other uses are placed on the network.

Other networks and websites you visit

Even though you purchased a specific speed and the AT&T network is highly reliable, the websites you interact with may not provide their services at the same speeds. Things to consider as you surf websites:

  • Websites may not have the same network speeds as you.
  • Website server capacity can impact your Internet speeds.
  • Website owners may use other ISPs to deliver content back to you. These network serving arrangements can also impact your internet speeds.
  • Visiting sites during their peak hours may also result in slower speeds.

Additional impacts on internet speed performance and speed test results

As noted, many factors can affect service speeds and test results. These include:

  • Your equipment
  • Connection type
  • Network issues
  • Internet usage 

In addition, protocol overheads, such as IP overhead in IP technology, reduce internet speed and speed test results. Overheads means the various control and signaling data (for example, transmission control protocol (TCP)) required to achieve the reliable transmission of internet access data.

Last updated: March 5, 2024

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