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How Fast Is My Internet?

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When you contract internet providers for home connection, they'll offer specified speed and bandwidth plans. One of the first things to check when facing connectivity issues is the internet speed. Overloading the network can result in lags and unending buffering when streaming. You may also need to change services if your current provider is unreliable. Here's an overview of internet speed and how to determine how fast your network is.

What is Internet Speed?

Most internet providers claim to offer fast internet speeds, but what does this mean? Internet speed is defined as the data volume transferred over a single connection at a given time. A connection involves sending data units (electronic packages) from a device to the internet. Fast internet speed accommodates more data packets simultaneously, allowing for tasks like streaming videos, online video games, and zoom calls.

Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). One megabit is equivalent to 1024 kilobits or 1,048,576 bits. A bit is the smallest amount of computer information. Broadband, a high-speed internet connection, requires 768Kbps download speed and 200Kbps upload speed to meet its classification.

Internet speed can be fast or slow, but businesses and homeowners use the internet differently. Speed is, thus, relative, and everyone has unique demands.

Is My Internet Fast Enough?

What is fast internet? How can I determine my internet speed? Is my internet fast enough? Answering such questions is vital when installing home internet or looking for better plans and speeds. Broadband internet is generally considered high-speed because packets are transferred at Mbps rates. Anything lower than 1Mbps isn't regarded as high-speed but may be fast enough for some users.

Here's how to go about determining your internet speed.

  • Test Device and Network Speed

You should test your computers, phones, and wi-fi networks to gauge how fast your internet is and determine if you need an upgrade. There are various apps and tools for testing internet speeds on your computer and wireless router. You can assess the network at different times to calculate the average speed.

  • Calculate Your Internet Needs

Once you know how fast your internet is, the next step is to calculate how much bandwidth you need to enjoy fast connections. Every home has unique demands and usage, so consider all devices and internet activities before settling for a plan. Here’s an average estimate of how much speed you need for specific activities:

  • Streaming premium quality videos – Up to 40Mbps
  • Zoom calls – 1.5Mbps
  • General internet browsing and emails – 1Mbps
  • Social media – 1Mpbs
  • Voice Calls – 0.5Mbps or less

There's no standard speed for everyone. Each user is different and needs customized plans to accommodate all network activities. According to FCC, 25Mbps is the threshold for high-speed internet for single users. Some users stream videos in SD, which requires up to 4Mbps, while others go for Ultra HD 4K, which requires more than five times faster connections at 25Mbs.

How Fast Should My Internet Speed Be?

Calculating what internet speed you need is about comparing current bandwidth vs. actual demand. If the current speeds don't support what’s needed for times when you need the speed, you’ll need a better plan with more bandwidth. You can also monitor the network to ensure that no unauthorized devices and websites are connected. Here's a look at standard homeowner packages most internet providers offer and what you can achieve with them:

5Mbps: Suits email services, Google searches, and single-device music streaming.

  • 40Mbps: Accommodates Skype and FaceTime video calling services and single-player online gaming and music streaming.
  • 100Mbps: Suits HD video steaming on a couple of devices, large-file downloads, and multiplayer online gaming.
  • 500Mbps: Accommodates multiple device UHD video streaming, super-fast large-file downloads, and multiplayer online gaming.
  • More than 1000Mbps: Suits browsing, streaming gaming, and file downloads and uploads. Speed of 500-1000Mbps works for pretty much everything.

The Fastest Internet Connections by Type

Testing your internet speed can reveal network capabilities and limitations.

Speed capabilities vary depending on the type of connection, so a dial-up connection won't perform as fast as fiber optic cables. Below are the different kinds of internet connections, starting with the fastest:

  • Fiber Internet: Fiber connections offer the fastest internet connections and can simultaneously transfer large amounts of data. The technology uses fiber optic cables rather than copper wires but isn't available in all regions.
  • Satellite Internet: Satellite connections involve sending data packets through the air to satellites that pick and redirect them to a set destination. The connection can achieve broadband speeds but is affected by bad weather and other factors.
  • Cable Internet: Cable connections relying on coaxial cables can offer high-speed capabilities and work better than copper cables. The connection is widespread and may be slow during peak use because many households share the same wires.
  • DSL/ADSL Internet: ADSL (asymmetric direct subscriber line) connections offer faster downloads and slow upload speeds. DSL (digital subscriber line) is a type of cable internet using copper wire but with broadband capabilities. It’s a step above dial-up connections.
  • Dial-Up Internet: Dial-up connections are the oldest and are slowly being phased out. They rely on phone line connections and use copper wire. It doesn't reach broadband speeds and has many other drawbacks, explaining its phasing out.

What to Do For Low Speed

There are many reasons why your internet may be slow. Addressing the underlying causes is how you ensure fast and reliable internet. Sometimes it's the internet plan that needs upgrading to accommodate current demand. Other reasons for slow speed include poor network management, congested provider network, maxed data cap, and weak wi-fi signals. High latency, outdated/slow devices, and provider throttling can also result in low speeds.

If the internet plan is too slow, determine the required bandwidth and upgrade to a better plan. Homeowners can also choose different internet providers with reliable services and speeds.

Working with Internet Providers

The best way to test internet speed and bring it to the desired levels is to engage licensed ISPs. At Teleful Connect, we work with leading internet providers to cover your home needs for internet, cable, and security. Our team can help you test internet and network speeds and find the best solution to cover your demand.