If you grew up using the internet during the dial-up era, you’ll likely remember how painstaking it is to connect online and then wait for one page to load. That’s because, at best, it only has a speed of 56 kbit/s. You can’t even use the phone and the internet at the same time!
Today, you can’t go anywhere with that kind of connection. Web pages now contain more data than ever, so you need a good internet speed to load them.
But, what are good internet speeds to have in this era? Is there a minimum recommendation?
Yes, there is, but note that it may or may not work for you. You need to consider other factors, too.
We’ll explain all that below, so keep on reading.
Table of Contents
1. What are Good Internet Speeds?
The average household doesn’t ultra-fast internet speeds.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), you’ll only need at least 3 Mbps. The median range, though is 12 to 25 Mbps. You might need more, but that depends on a lot of factors.
What’s considered good for you may be different for others, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt. The actual speed you need depends on your internet usage.
2. What’s Considered Fast Internet Speeds?
Is the FCC recommendation fast enough? They declared that maintaining 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload broadband speeds fall under the range of high-speed internet.
Their average recommended internet speed is enough for most households. It’s still not fast enough by their definition, though. Still, you don’t need “fast” internet if you’re a household of 3 or fewer that doesn’t use much internet outside of its basic uses.
On the other hand, a household of 4 or more members will need 25 Mbps. Depending on their usage, that might not even be enough for them.
Download Speed vs Upload Speed
What internet providers advertise is the download speed of their plan. The FCC recommendation also refers to the download speed.
It’s how fast you receive data from the internet as opposed to how fast you can upload data, which is the upload speed.
Both are equally important, but it’s common to have far less upload speed than the download speed. In general, you can get 1 Mbps upload speed for every 10 Mbps download speed.
This is normal as most people don’t have that much to upload. The exception would be those who upload large files on the regular. If you’re one of those, pay attention to internet only options that have equal upload and download speeds.
3. Check Your Current Internet Speed
To get a better idea of what are good internet speeds, check what you have at the moment. Look for a speed test tool like Fast.com or Speedtest to see both your download and upload speeds.
Such tools are straightforward to use; you only have to click a button to begin the test. Then, they will send test samples of data to remote servers to mimic internet activity. From there, they’ll get the average download and upload speeds of those data.
To get the most accurate speeds, restart your router before performing the test. Don’t use the internet during this time; stop any downloads and turn off the Wi-Fi on your mobile phone.
You may also have to clear your browser’s cache. The speed test might not reflect accurate data if you have cached files.
4. How Many Mbps Do You Need?
Now that we’ve covered all the basics, it’s time to determine how fast your internet should be. Your needs depend on two main factors: your internet activities and the number of devices using the same network. Let’s talk about how much your internet usage requires first.
When we’re talking about basic usage, we’re talking about activities that don’t take up too much bandwidth. Examples are accessing social media, the occasional call to family members over Wi-Fi, using your email, and so on.
Do you watch Facebook videos but you don’t care much for quality? The minimum FCC recommendation should be enough.
To do these things, you can make do with at least 3 Mbps, more so if you’re the only one in the household who uses the internet.
It should allow you to watch videos in standard quality without much trouble. It should also be more than enough for streaming music.
If you can get a better plan, though, it won’t hurt your experience. Upgrading to at least 5 Mbps or more can make a huge difference.
If you do a lot of streaming, however, you’ll need faster internet. 3 Mbps may be enough for infrequent watching. Yet, it’s not reliable for when you watch a lot of TV shows and YouTube videos.
To enjoy the viewing experience, you’ll need at least HD quality. Netflix recommends at least 5 Mbps for that. But, if you want several devices to watch in HD at the same time, you’ll need much more.
The same goes for when you have an Ultra HD or 4K screen and you want to maximize its capabilities. You’ll need a high-speed internet plan.
Other platforms, like Hulu and YouTube, may have lower requirements. Nonetheless, you want to get the fastest internet plan you can afford if you want to watch without lags.
If you’re into gaming, your internet speed will matter a lot. Online games require fast speeds so you can enjoy them without lagging. Less than a second can mean the difference between killing the enemy or dying.
You can still get a decent experience with 4 to 8 Mbps for online games. It’s optimal to sign up for a high-speed plan for the best experience.
Note that download speeds don’t matter as much in online gaming, though. What you need to look out for are the ping time and latency.
Ping refers to the act of hailing a receiver, while latency is the amount of time it takes your device to “ping” the server. In simpler terms, it measures the time between a click and the result of that click.
That said, what is a good ping speed?
The optimal ping time is 20 milliseconds or less, but you can get by with 20 to 150 milliseconds. Anything more than that will only sour the gaming experience.
First, think of the online tasks you do on your computer related to your work or school. Do you use it for opening your email or doing research? Do you communicate with your co-workers and classmates online?
If those are the only things you do, then 3 to 5 Mbps might be enough for your needs.
That changes when you need to video calls and conferences. To avoid lags and blurry screens, 10 Mbps or so is the recommendation.
You’ll further need a faster connection when you do large file transfers. 25 Mbps is good enough, but if you want the best speeds, go above 40 Mbps.
A Combination of the Above
The average household does two or more of the activities above daily. If this is the case in yours, take the internet speed requirements of the most internet-hogging activity.
But, don’t stop there. Consider the following factor, too.
5. The Number of Internet Users
The number of users connecting to the same network will share the bandwidth provided. Most internet providers will tell you how many devices an internet plan can support. However, it doesn’t take into account the internet activities in each device.
Say the bandwidth allocated to you has two lanes, but five cars need to use the same road. This will cause congestion.
No matter how fast your car can go on that road, you won’t maximize fast speeds. It’s not the same as when there’s only one or two of you.
That’s why you should go higher when three or more devices are connecting to the internet at the same time. One user might be watching Netflix, while one is downloading a large file. Meanwhile, another user is playing an online game and another one is attending a Skype conference video call.
In this scenario, even a 100 Mbps connection might not be enough. If you have more than 5 household members, you may need up to 200 Mbps.
Look into Fiber internet, which has download speeds of 250 to 1,000 Mbps. It’s a symmetrical service, too, which means the upload speeds are about the same. Uploading large files won’t be a hard task for this kind of service.
Should You Upgrade Your Internet Connection?
Remember your current internet speed? Use that as a reference to see if you need more. If your internet feels slow to you, then you need to upgrade according to your usage needs.
However, if you’re not seeing any issue with your connection, it’s a good idea to stay where you are. Even if you only have a 3 Mbps plan, there’s no need to spend more on a faster connection if you’re already satisfied.
Knowing what are good internet speeds, in general, is useful, but it’s your experience and needs that will dictate which are the best options for you.
Of course, why stop here when there are other tech tips to discover? Feel free to read more of our posts today to pick up on the latest gadgets, tech advice, and more!