Internet speed impacts how quickly you complete online tasks and the volume your network can handle simultaneously. Speed is one of the highlights of top-rated internet providers, but what is fast or slow internet? This review examines everything you need to know about internet speeds and why they are essential.
Internet speed refers to the volume of data packets transferred through a single connection at a given time. Your devices connect to the internet using electronic packages (data units). Everything you do online depends on transferring these packets between your device and the internet. A faster speed will allow more data exchange for tasks such as streaming videos.
Zoom calls, online gaming, and scrolling through social media pages and online galleries also require many data packets. It's possible to stream one video frame, wait for it to buffer, and watch the next frame, but such slow speeds suit no one.
Reputable internet providers will review your needs to help you determine the best data plan and speeds.
Speed measurement considers how fast data is transferred at any given time when performing a task. Internet speed is measured in Mbps (megabits per second). One megabit refers to 1024 kilobits, and one kilobit equals 1024 bits. A bit is the smallest unit of computer information. 1Mbps internet speed is 1024 times faster than 1Kbps.
A high-speed internet connection (broadband) requires download speeds of 768Kbps and upload speeds of 200Kbps to meet the Mbps classification. Download speeds (the rate at which packets are transferred from the internet to your device) are significantly faster than upload speeds (device to the internet).
Broadband is the overall measurement of internet speed.
Internet speed determines how fast you can browse the internet and complete online tasks. A fast internet speed will achieve smooth video streaming, Zoom calls, and super-fast downloads and uploads. Slow speed will slow down everything and can be frustrating to work with. Speed is relative, so 10Mbps is fast for some and very slow for others.
It depends on how many devices connect to the network and the individual needs in each connection. You can test your internet speed and compare it with an evaluation of your needs to determine if you need a change. If the speed is too fast, you probably overpay for your internet connection. For slow speeds, you’ll need to upgrade your plan for better connectivity.
You can use online internet speed testers to determine your current download and upload speeds. Some testers offer a detailed report covering everything measured. If you are installing home internet, it’s crucial to calculate the best internet speed before buying a plan. Here’s a general overview of how much bandwidth you may need for various online activities:
• VoIP calls – Less than 0.5Mbps
• General browsing and email service – 1Mbps
• Social media – 1Mbps
• Zoom calls – 1.5Mbps
• Streaming videos – Up to 40Mbps
The FCC defines high-speed internet as 25Mbps for single users. If more people use multiple devices to connect to the internet simultaneously, 25Mbps won't cut it. Streaming standard definition (SD) video may take 3-4Mbps, but an Ultra HD 4K video requires at least 25Mbps. Game consoles connecting to the internet and multiplayer also require 3-4Mbps.
1-2Mbps will suffice for standard personal calls such as Zoom and Skype for those working from home. You'll need up to 6Mbps or more if HD video teleconferencing is involved. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video define the minimum bandwidth required for specific streaming quality. You can determine the speed needed for each service.
There’s no one-size-fits-all. Households have varying internet demands, so a custom plan is vital. You can consult with internet providers to estimate the optimal speed for your needs and determine the best plan. Below is an overview of what you can achieve with specific plans:
• 0-5 Mbps: Works for checking emails, Google search, and streaming music on a single device.
• 5-40 Mbps: Works for video calling via Skype and FaceTime, online gaming for a single player, and streaming music on one device.
• 40-100 Mbps: Works for streaming HD videos on a handful of devices, multiplayer online gaming, and downloading large files.
• 100-500 Mbps: Works for streaming videos in UHD using multiple screens, downloading files at super-fast speeds, and online gaming with multiple players.
• 500-1000+ Mbps: Works for nearly everything. You can stream the highest quality videos across multiple screens or download large files at ultra-fast speeds.
Homeowners and offices have many internet connection types to choose from. The most popular options include dial-up, DSL, ADSL, cable, satellite, and fiber optic. Each type has unique merits and drawbacks and can impact internet speed. Fiber optic connections offer the fastest internet speeds but may not be available in your area. Here's a review of each option:
• Dial-up: Uses phone line connections with no broadband internet. Dial-up is the slowest internet connection and is fast phasing out.
• DSL: Digital Subscriber Line connections use copper wires like dial-up lines but accommodate broadband. Internet speeds reach 3Mbps.
• ADSL: Asymmetric Direct Subscriber Line is a DSL connection focusing on faster downloads and slow uploads. It's widespread among ISPs but doesn't suit online games and people who upload large files regularly.
• Cable: Coaxial cables offer high-speed capabilities and carry data faster than copper wires. The drawback is many households may share the same cables resulting in slow speed during peak times.
• Satellite: This connection eliminates cables. It involves sending data to the air, where satellites pick it and redirect it to the destination. Satellite connections can reach broadband speeds but are slow during bad weather and other circumstances.
• Fiber: Uses fiber optic cables instead of copper wires and coaxial cables. Fiber optic cables can handle larger amounts of data at a given time and offer the fastest connections. The technology is still new and not available in some regions.
You don't need the fastest internet to meet your internet demand, but a strong connection is essential. Testing the network speed and upgrading as necessary is all it takes to guarantee smooth browsing, streaming, and gaming.
At Teleful Connect, we work with leading providers to cover all your home needs in internet, cable, and home security. We can help you evaluate your internet needs and find the best data and broadband plans for fast, reliable connections.