November 05, 2021


How Much Speed Do You Need?

Everyone wants a fast internet connection. But how fast is too fast? Is there even such a thing as too fast? Many internet service providers will try to sell you on the fastest plan, whether you need it or not. They'll tell you all the wonderful things you can do without once asking you if you plan to do any of those things. Like almost anything that comes in tiered options, picking the right internet plan is about finding the best value. The most affordable plan that gives you everything you need is the right plan for you. But how do you determine that? In this post, we'll help you with that.

How Internet Speeds are Measured

Let's first start by clearing up some confusing abbreviations. When you purchase an internet plan, the speeds will be in megabits per second, Mbps. When you download something through that connection, the speed will be measured in megabytes per second, MB/s. There are 8 bits in a byte. A megabit is 1 million bits, and a megabyte is 1 million bytes. This can confuse people who don't know the difference and don't understand why their 50Mbps connection isn't downloading at 50 MB/s. For most of this post, we'll be talking about Mbps. If you see those abbreviations someplace else, be sure to remember which one is which, so you'll be able to digest the information being provided accurately.

Determining Your Current Internet Speed

There are several apps and websites you can use to test your internet speed. The most famous are speedtest.net by Ookla and fast.com by Netflix. When you visit one of these sites, they'll download a small file to a temporary location on your computer and measure how long it takes to complete. If you want to get an accurate picture of the speed coming from your ISP, you should perform this test while connected to your modem through a wired connection. Wi-Fi introduces a number of variables beyond the control of your ISP and will not give accurate results. However, if you need to see if your home setup meets the bandwidth requirements for a given service, you should test over whatever conditions you'll be using that service under. If your speeds drop dramatically over Wi-Fi, you may be able to improve them by getting a better router or moving the router and computer closer together.

How to Tell if Your Internet Speed is too Slow

It's easy to tell if your internet speed isn't up to the standard you need. Video playback will be regularly choppy, and even streaming audio may suffer if your bandwidth is too limited. It could be that your internet connection is fast enough on its own to easily playback the media you want, but other users in your home are also playing bandwidth-heavy media. Since everyone in the home must share the connection speed, you'll need enough to cover the average simultaneous use case.

How to Tell if Your Internet Speed is too Fast

While many internet service providers would argue there's no such thing as too fast, in reality, you don't want to pay for something that you aren't using. Unfortunately, knowing whether you have too much internet speed isn't as easy as knowing if you have too little. If you never experience any slowdowns, no matter how heavy you push the bandwidth envelope, it could be that you have too much. However, it's equally likely that you have just the right amount of speed. After all, never having interruptions or slowdowns is the goal.

How Much Speed Do You Need?

With no obvious way to tell when you're paying for too much internet connectivity, you'll need to rely on estimating your usage. For a one-person household, this is relatively easy. For a larger group of people, be sure to take everyone's total usage into account. You should also base your calculations on when the kids are out of school or on days when all the adults are off work. That way, you won't be stuck with a slow connection when household data usage increases.

Low Speed

If you only have one to two devices connected to the internet and mostly use it to browse the web, check email, and peruse social media, you don't have very high bandwidth requirements. With moderate video streaming, you can get away with an internet speed of up to 40 Mbps. That's enough to stream 4K video on one device, but others will struggle to do much while the video is streaming.

Medium Speed

If you plan on streaming 4K video and doing a lot of multiplayer, your bandwidth needs will be higher. With three to five devices connected, you have medium-speed requirements. For a household that fits that description, up to 150 Mbps is sufficient. This will allow two to four devices to comfortably stream 4K video while the others are doing light browsing tasks.

High Speed

For more than five devices, you're going to want your speed to be 300 Mbps or higher. This will allow a large number of devices to stream 4K video. At around 60 Mbps per device, this range gives you six to 12 devices, all streaming simultaneously.

Gigabit

For home usage, gigabit-speed is essentially limitless. There's very little chance you'll ever have enough devices using enough bandwidth to put a strain on that connection. If your needs fall into the first two categories, gigabit internet is overkill. Most households aren't in the upper end of the third category, but if you are, the extra speed of gigabit might be worth considering.

The Importance of Upload Speed

Upload speed is often much slower than download speed. There was a time when only a few people needed to worry about this. People who weren't constantly sending large files or uploading videos to YouTube on a regular basis didn't need to concern themselves too much with upload speed. Now, with the rise of videoconferencing and similar services, uploading videos has become much more common. If you regularly talk on Zoom, Skype, or another service that sends large amounts of bandwidth, be sure to include those upload requirements in your assessments of the various plans.

Reach Out to Long Lines Broadband

There was a time when 56Kbps modems were enough to handle everyone's needs. As bandwidth increases, so does the utilization of it. Regardless of which plan you choose, it's a good idea to re-evaluate your needs every few years as bandwidth requirements increase.

Long Lines Broadband has a large selection of plans to match your precise internet needs, starting at 40Mbps and going all the way up to Gigabit speeds. Not only can we provide you with internet speeds fast enough to handle the most demanding household consumption, but we do so locally. When you need help, you'll talk to someone down the street, not across the world. To find and sign up for the best internet plan for your needs, contact us today.

Image Source: Sashkin / Shutterstock

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