How Much Internet Speed Do I Need
People often ask how much internet speed they need. The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might think. A variety of factors come into play, including the type of activities you plan on using the internet for and how many people will be using it simultaneously. This article will explore some of the different things you need to consider when deciding on an appropriate internet speed for your needs.
Understanding Internet Connection Speeds
Understanding internet speeds starts with knowing that it is measured in bits and bytes. The term refers to how quickly data travels into your home, such as a Netflix film. One bit per second (bps) means a single piece of data is transferred in one second. A byte, meanwhile, is eight pieces of data combined, so a speed of 8 Mbps would be 8 million pieces of data in a single second.
However, the terms kilobits per second (kbps), megabits per second (Mbps), and gigabits per second (Gbps) are also commonly used, which equate to thousands of bits, millions of bits, and billions of bits, respectively. The following table shows the relationship between these terms:
1 Mbps = 1000 kbps
8 Mbps = 8000 kbps
1 Gbps = 1000 Mbps
While internet speeds are typically measured in Mbps, it is also essential to consider the length of time for something to upload or download. Any internet speed is sufficient for receiving a text-only email, and you may only require 1 Mbps to listen to a Spotify song.
However, streaming a high-definition Netflix film would require a much higher speed. According to Netflix, a speed of 5 Mbps or more is needed for standard definition video, 25 Mbps or more for 720p HD video, and 40 Mbps or more for 1080p HD video.
When you have decided upon how much internet speed you need to stream your favorite Netflix series, another important consideration is how many people will be using the internet simultaneously. If you live in a household with multiple users, you may want to consider increasing your speed accordingly.
Factors That Influence Internet Speed
While there are different things you need to consider when it comes to choosing a sufficient internet speed for your requirements, there are also a variety of factors that can influence how quickly you receive information on the web. Here are some of the most significant ones:
- Time of day: As bandwidth use tends to increase during hours of peak demand, it is often faster to access websites earlier in the morning or later at night. If you only require the internet to check email and update social media accounts, you may not even need to access the web during off-peak hours.
- Location: Where you live and work has a significant effect on your connection speed. For example, live in a remote location where there is only one internet service provider (ISP). You’ll likely experience lower speeds than someone who lives in a densely populated area with multiple providers.
- The number of devices: The more devices you have connected to the internet, such as smartphones and TVs, the slower your connection will be. If you only require the internet for light daily activities such as checking email and browsing social media sites, one or two connected devices should not be a problem. However, if you play games that require consistent connection speeds or stream videos on multiple devices, more bandwidth will be required.
- Type of web browser: Most browsers use the same amount of bandwidth regardless of how often it is used. Some types of internet traffic do take up more than others, however. For example, streaming Netflix videos will require more bandwidth than simply surfing the web, and watching videos on YouTube will require even more.
- Geographical location: This may be obvious, but if you live in an area where many of your neighbors are using the internet at the same time, then you’ll need to increase your speed accordingly.
- Service Provider: If you choose to go with a lower-cost provider that provides slower speeds, then you’ll need to decrease your expectations accordingly. Read our blog on How to Select Internet Service Providers for your new home to help you out on this.
If this is still too much information for you to consider, many internet speed calculators are available online. These programs will measure the speed of your current connection and provide recommendations based on your personal needs. Before relying solely upon internet speed test results, however, it is important to consider the many factors that impact how quickly you receive information from the web.
Types of Internet Use
Now that you have a general idea of how much internet speed you need let’s aim more specifically at the different types of internet use. There are two main ways most people use the internet: streaming and non-streaming. In simple terms, streaming means watching or listening to something online, while non-streaming means using the internet to complete tasks such as checking email, reading a news article, or shopping online. Of course, most online activities involve some element of both these types of internet use.
In general, streaming uses include watching a video or live TV over the internet and listening to music online. Streaming uses are typically more taxing on your bandwidth than non-streaming uses, hence why you need more internet speed for the former. Some examples include:
Listening to Music
Anytime you listen to music on a streaming service such as Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, etc., your internet speed matters. The larger your collection of songs, the more internet speed you will need.
Watching a Video
Streaming videos online usually involves playing them in real-time. If you plan on watching movies or TV shows over the internet, for example, by using Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, then your internet speed matters. You need to have a minimum of 5 Mbps internet speed to stream full HD content and 25 Mbps internet speed for 4K Ultra HD content.
These are any type of online activities that do not involve streaming. Non-streaming uses are less demanding of your internet speed, but they also require more general computer skills. For example, tasks generally associated with non-streaming uses include:
Sending and receiving the email does not take up too much bandwidth. However, if you have multiple people who will be using the same computer and sharing the same email account, then your internet speed may matter to you.
You don’t need lightning-fast speeds to read text online, but you will want an internet speed that can load web pages as quickly as possible so as not to distract you from reading.
Because shopping is such common use of the internet these days, we’ve included it in this list. When checking out online stores such as Amazon and eBay, you will want a fast internet speed to ensure you can load all necessary content quickly and efficiently.
Now that we’ve covered some of the different types of activities you typically conduct on the internet let’s look at how you might use the internet differently in the future. If you are only currently using your computer for basic activities such as email or Facebook, then any internet speed that suits your current needs may be just fine. However, suppose you ever plan on using your computer for more intensive activities like streaming video games or HD video streams. In that case, you may want to consider getting a higher internet speed even if you don’t consider yourself an avid computer user now; you never know what the future may hold!
What Internet Speed Do I Have?
Now that we’ve gone over how much internet speed you might want in your home, there’s one more thing to consider: what internet speed do you currently have? If this is your first time shopping for an internet connection, it can be hard to know what internet speed you need. The good news is that all internet plans list the type and speed (along with an expected average download time) right on their homepage.
If you are unsure what type of internet speed you have, simply visit your provider’s website and look at their plans. You should be able to find the speeds listed right on the homepage without any need for searching. It’s generally a good idea to compare internet speed before signing up with a new company, just in case their plans are much faster or slower than what you have now.
As we’ve discussed, your internet speed matters because it’s the only thing limiting the services you can use and how well those services run on your computer. If you’re wondering how much internet speed I need, then the best thing to do is assume that all activities will require some amount of internet speed and plan accordingly. Make sure you have enough bandwidth for all of your online needs while also factoring in future usage to ensure that you never run into issues with your connection down the line.
Frequently Asked Question
Is 100 Mbps fast internet?
Anything over 100 megabits per second (Mbps) is considered “fast.” However, there are numerous factors to consider when assessing a user’s internet connection, even if it has a speed of 100 Mbps, such as: How many devices are simultaneously connected and in use?
Is 100 Mbps Fast Enough for Work?
For working from home, we recommend at least 50 to 100 Mbps download speeds and at least 10 Mbps upload speeds if you’re uploading significant data to the internet. If you’re a YouTuber, photographer, or graphic designer who frequently conducts video conferences, look for faster download and upload rates.
How many Mbps do I need for a house?
For a house with at least 4 to 6 people in it, you’ll want at least 50 Mbps download speed. However, if multiple people in your household enjoy torrenting movies and playing games online simultaneously, you may want to look for speeds above 100 Mbps.
How many Mbps do I need per device?
You will need 1 Mbps per device to surf the net or read email. However, if you want to stream movies on Netflix, Hulu, play online games, download movies and photos, torrent movies, and/or music, you will need 10 Mbps per device.