Internet Speed - how much do you really need?

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September 2021

What Internet speed do I need?  So much of life is online now that it’s a more important question than ever before. 

When we talk about broadband speed, we’re referring to how quickly data can be uploaded or downloaded when using an internet connection.

Broadband speed is measured in Mbps (megabits per second).  A bit is the smallest unit of data that can be transferred so when it comes to calculating speed, the higher the number of bits per second, the faster your broadband connection will be.

You can think of your broadband connection a bit like a motorway.  The more lanes there are, the more cars can move along it at any given time.  The same is true of your internet connection.  The more bandwidth you have, or the greater your speed is, the more data you can download at any given moment.  If there are multiple people in your house doing internet-intensive activities at any one time (for example, one family member is streaming an HD film, another is playing an online game, a third is browsing the web or on a video call and the mobiles of all household members plus any smart devices are active too) then you need more bandwidth to be able to run these downloads concurrently without experiencing buffering.  If there isn’t enough bandwidth, the network will get clogged, slowing everyone down.

 

A breakdown of common download speed ranges in Mbps and what they’re good for:

 

Internet Speed: 5-25 Mbps                                         

Number of People: 1-2                                                   

Activities: Casual web browsing, emails, social media, streaming SD video, streaming music                                                                                                             

Internet Speed: 25-50 Mbps                                         

Number of People: 1-3                                                   

Activities: Streaming HD & 4K video, streaming music, gaming for one player, light work from home   

 

 

Internet Speed: 50-100 Mbps                                         

Number of People: 2-4                                                

Activities: Streaming 4K video, streaming music, multiplayer gaming, working from home, using home security devices        

 

 

Internet Speed: 100-500 Mbps                                         

Number of People: 2-5                                                 

Activities: Streaming 4K video, multiplayer gaming, running a home office, video conferencing, using home security and smart home devices

 

Internet Speed: 500-1000 Mbps                                         

Number of People: 3-5+                                                  

Activities: Heavy internet usage - more than 20 devices.  Doing a lot of almost anything!

 

 

           

A good broadband speed will depend on your personal preferences and how you use the Internet. One that averages above 25Mbps is considered a good Internet speed, enough to support modest online activity for a small family.  Larger households of 3-5+ people should consider speeds closer to the 100-200Mbps range.

Video consumes far more bandwidth than many other Internet service, with one hour of streamed HD and Ultra HD content consuming roughly 150 and 350 times, respectively, the Internet bandwidth of one hour of web or Facebook browsing.  Over the next five years, broadband data usage from TV and video services will increase significantly, driven by a number of trends including the continued decline in broadcast TV viewing, particularly among young people aged 16 to 24, an increased uptake of 4K TVs, the increasing adoption of streamed video-on-demand services (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Apple TV+, iTunes and BritBox), the increasing adoption of YouTube and other video sharing platforms and the move by traditional broadcasters towards online delivery, such as BBC iPlayer becoming the ‘gateway’ to all BBC programmes. 

The number of households that consume 1 terabit or more per month (“power users”) is set to increase significantly over the next five years. The future of TV lies with the roll-out and adoption of ultrafast broadband services.  If you have a fibre broadband connection your broadband speed should be pretty close to those superfast fibre speeds that you see advertised. (This is because the signal doesn’t weaken over distance with fibre cables.) If you’re on standard broadband (ADSL) however, Internet connectivity is delivered down the copper wires used by your existing phone line and speeds vary according to how far you live from your local telephone exchange. (If you live in a remote rural area, your actual speed could be very different to those advertised.)

 

Increasing broadband speeds into the home is only one of several major requirements to support the expected growth in TV and video traffic.  Such traffic will put immense strain on Wi-Fi networks, which are often used to connect broadband to devices in the home.  We strongly recommend connecting devices that do not move, such as smart TVs, to the router using Ethernet cables instead of Wi-Fi to improve performance and to reduce home Wi-Fi traffic.  Multiple wireless access points – properly configured – may also help to substantially improve performance and reliability. 

If you need advice on how to get the most out of your broadband, talk to us today!