When it comes to choosing an internet service provider, many consumers care more about the speed of the internet connection over the cost. But how much internet speed do you really need for the average usage? This guide will help give you an idea of what speed is and why it is necessary for the average internet user. Overall, this will help you find the right balance of speed and value when choosing an internet service provider.
How is Internet Speed Measured?
When it comes to deciding about internet speed, it’s helpful to understand the terminology. Most internet speeds are quote in megabits per second (Mbps), but what does this mean? This is the amount of data it can download or upload per second. DSL internet has a starting point of 3 Mbps, but obviously faster options like cable will have higher internet speeds.
How Much Does the Average User Need?
The speed needed for your internet will depend on what kind of activities you are using your internet connection for. Simple web browsing and answering email will use significantly less speed than something like streaming Netflix.
A minimum of 5 Mbps is recommended to stream movies, but that is one user at a time. Others recommend 10 to 12 Mbps to browse and check emails and 20 Mbps+ for gaming and streaming. However, most users are multi-tasking when using the internet, so the necessary speeds are likely a bit higher.
Another factor that will determine how much speed you need is the number of devices connected to the internet. How often have you been watching movies online on your computer, while also scrolling through your social media on you phone, both of which are connected to Wi-Fi? The more devices that are connected to the network, the higher the speeds that will be needed. Nowadays everyone in the family has a phone. Also, do not forget the appliances you have around the house such as your smart TV.
The FCC recommends 10 Mbps to 25 Mpbs speeds for households that stream videos. If you are a heavy data user, you may want speeds up to 50 Mbps. Most network providers are on par with each other in terms of having reliable and fast internet. Some internet service providers include Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, and Verizon.
Other Factors that Can Affect Speed
There are other factors that will need to be considered that can affect speed and what broadband plan you choose. If you are a heavy data user, you will want to take into consideration the fair usage policy that your internet service provider may have in place. These policies can slow down speeds if you go over the data limit that is considered “fair use”.
Additionally, many internet service providers have traffic management policies, which help them manage times of high broadband usage. During these peak times internet may be slower, in order to give the best possible internet experience for the most users. If you are downloading a large file during this time you may find that it may take longer than normal.
Your Wi-Fi connection can also cause internet speeds to be less than the advertised speed. If there is interference by things such as electronic devices, the connection could be slower. Also the positioning of your router can make the connection slow as well; it should be placed high on a shelf to avoid this.
Overall, most users do not necessary need the excessively high speeds of 100 Mbps. The average household recommendation is around 10 Mbps and 25 Mbps, even if you are streaming often. If you are a heavy data user you may want more, but even then speeds much higher often add little to the user experience. To get the most value for your money choose the speed which best aligns with your internet usage, rather than going for the highest speed available.