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How Much Internet Speed ​​Do You Really Need?


Phil Barker / Future Publishing via Getty Images

Whether you are moving to a new place or are just looking for new options, you may be trying to come up with an internet plan more complicated than you might thinkWith most subscriptions you pay for your internet speed and capacity, which begs the question: how much internet speed do you really need?

Most internet service providers (ISPs) usually have a guide on their websites, but such guides will sometimes try to convince you of the benefits of faster speeds that you may not really need. The good news is, we̵

7;re here to help you understand how much the internet will cost you.

As with most services, your goal is to pay for what your unique usage needs require. An elderly couple who only need the internet to look things up from time to time and keep track of their grandchildren probably not as much needed as an avid gamer or streamer, for example. So let’s break things down a bit and see how much internet speed you really need at home.

How fast is fast enough?

The Federal Communications Commission defines anything faster than 25 Mbps as “advanced service.” However, for most, this is probably closer to the bare minimum.

If you use the internet on a daily basis, you want to aim for something higher if you can. With smart home gadgets gaining in popularity and our media consumption increasingly powered by streaming, it makes sense to opt for something closer to 100Mbps if such plans are available in your area (and, frustratingly, in many places they still aren’t).

It is also important to note that having a fast internet package does not guarantee fast internet. Network congestion, poor router placement, interference from nearby networks, and other factors can slow things down. To find out if your internet speed is really to blame, check out our guide on how to test your connection

How much internet do you use?

Today, with so many people working from home, many of us use the Internet more than we are used to. However, that’s not the case for everyone, and you should keep that in mind while looking for an internet plan.

If you work from home, stream a lot of high-resolution videos, or regularly play online games, you probably need more internet speed than someone who casually takes to social media platforms and gets their TV from a cable provider. Different activities require different internet capabilities – here’s a small chart to give you an idea:

Internet speed recommendations

Activity Usage required Our recommended speed

1 Mbps

1 Mbps


3-5 Mbps

5-10 Mbps

Social media

3-5 Mbps

10 Mbps

Video calls

3-5 Mbps

10-20 Mbps

HD streaming

5-10 Mbps

10-20 Mbps

Online gaming

3–6 Mbps

25-35 Mbps

4K streaming

25 Mbps

35 Mbps

How many people or devices are using your network?

Another important factor to consider in your search for the ideal internet speed is how many users and devices are on your network on any given day. Your household may only be one or two people, but it can contain 10-15 devices (laptops, cell phones, game consoles, smart TVs, smart home gadgets, you name it). Using these devices consistently, you need to make sure your internet speed has the bandwidth to cover them all.

Video is often the greatest bandwidth, so aim for an internet plan that is right for your viewing habits. If it applies, think about the times you streamed Netflix or made a video call from mom, then imagine everything else that could have happened on your network at the same time and use the table above as a rough guide. For example, if you live alone and like to tweet about your favorite show on your phone while streaming it in 4K on your TV, you’ll want a minimum of 35 Mbps for smooth playback and another 10 Mbps to keep up with Twitter. . It sounds like a 50 Mbps internet plan might be close to your sweet spot.

Upload speed vs download speed

Since you’re considering speeds, it’s also important to understand the difference between upload and download speeds. The difference is simple: upload speeds tell you how fast you can send data to internet, while download speeds tell you how fast you can get data from the Internet.

In most cases, you’ll be using download bandwidth more than uploading, but it’s important to consider both. This is especially true if you’re currently working from home, as upload speeds are important when you’re trying to make a video call or email a large attachment.

Many ISPs offer subscriptions with a lower upload speed than download speed. With these types of plans, the ratio is typically 1 Mbps upload bandwidth for every 10 Mbps download bandwidth. For example, you will see many internet plans with download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps, according to the aforementioned FCC standard. That would probably be enough to comfortably stream regular HD video, but with just a few Mbps upload speed, your video calls may be more choppy than you’d like.

Everything you need to know about data limits

Another thing to watch out for in your search for the ideal internet speed for your home is data limits. Internet data limits are ISP-enforced data usage limits – it’s important to keep this in mind when shopping, especially if you’re using your internet for high-usage activities like streaming Netflix or scrolling social media. Such cases with a lot of video devour a lot of data, and when you reach the data limit, you have to pay extra for an extra fee.

Slow internet subscriptions – for example a 10 Mbps DSL connection – are usually intended for light internet use, so the data limits that sometimes go with it can be painfully tightMeanwhile, some providers offer subscriptions without data limits.

If you are not sure whether it is worth paying for a higher data limit or switching to a provider that does not use it, check with your ISP to see if they offer tools to reduce the data usage of your track your household (most usually do this through their app). That will give you a better idea of ​​how much you need and whether or not you need to change anything.

Now you are ready to start searching

Now that you have a general idea of ​​everything that comes into internet plans and the aspects to consider when choosing a plan, you are ready to start your search. And if you have any questions about your internet package, be sure to check out the rest of our broadband coverage. In addition to other helpful guides, we can help tell you how fast your internet speed really is, how make sure your wifi is ideal for working from home, and how improve streaming quality

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