There are many things that you need to consider when signing up for an internet plan, including the price, contract length, and internet speed. But what is a good internet speed? Is 25 Mbps enough? Should you choose the fastest option available? Here’s everything you need to know about internet speeds, and how much you will need, depending on what you want to do.
How is Internet Speed Measured?
Internet speed refers to how fast data reaches your computer or device from the World Wide Web and vice versa. Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
When looking at internet plans, you will notice that internet speed is often divided into two categories: upload and download speeds. Download speeds refer to how fast data can reach your device from the internet. Whether you are listening to music on Spotify, streaming movies on Hulu, shopping on Amazon, or just surfing the web, you are downloading data from the internet.
Upload speeds refer to how fast you can send packets of data from one device to another or to the World Wide Web. Activities that need good upload speeds include video conferencing, saving documents to the cloud, sharing a video on Facebook, working on Google Sheets or Docs, or sending an email.
What is a Good Internet Speed for Home?
The general rule when it comes to internet speed is “the faster, the better.” However, choosing the fastest internet plan offer isn’t always necessary. These plans can cost you a lot more, and you might not need 2,000 Mbps.
What devices you use and what activities you do online will determine what internet speed you need. Here’s how fast your internet will need to be for the following activities:
For Sending Emails and Browsing the Web
If you’re just browsing the web, reading your email, or going on Facebook to check on what your friends are up to, you will need only between 0.5 and 5 Mbps.
For Downloading Large Files
For downloading a photo or document from your inbox, you will need up to 5 Mbps. It is a different story, however, if you are constantly downloading large files. You might need up to 50 Mbps if you are downloading large files often.
If you have a download speed of 50 Mbps, it will take you only around 11 minutes and 27 seconds to download a 4 GB HD movie. But the same file will take almost two hours to download with a 5 Mbps connection.
For Making Video Calls
If you use Skype or Facetime a lot, you only need a download speed of 0.5 Mbps to make standard calls. However, your video quality will not be stellar. Your calls will also likely break up, and audio will not sync properly on a slow internet connection. For HD video conferencing, you will need an upload speed of 1.5 Mbps.
For Music or Video Streaming
For streaming music, you’ll want a download speed of 2 Mbps. However, for watching movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Disney Plus, faster internet speeds will give you a better home theater experience.
With a download speed of 1.5 Mbps, you will be able to view videos properly on low-definition. Standard quality will require at least 3 Mbps. If you want to watch HD videos without lag or buffering, you will need a download speed of at least 5 Mbps. However, for streaming Ultra HD movies with 4K definition, you will want to get a plan with at least 25 Mbps of download speed.
Take note, however, that in order to enjoy 4K video streaming, 25 Mbps of internet speed isn’t your sole requirement. You will also need a 4K-capable TV as well. Take a look at our guide on 4K vs 1080p to find out more.
For Online Gaming
Whether you have a PS4, Xbox or PC, online gaming doesn’t need the same download speeds as Ultra HD video streaming. In fact, you only need a download speed of 2 to 10 Mbps for online gaming.
However, this also depends on what the game developers recommend. If you play League of Legends or Dota on your PC, you will need at least 6 Mbps per gamer. The same internet speed is recommended for playing Call of Duty or Halo using a gaming console.
Also, take note that the internet speeds stated above only describe what you need for a single activity at a time. If you get a plan that is only 25 Mbps, you won’t be able to stream Ultra HD content on Netflix if you are also downloading an email attachment or answering a Facetime call at the same time.
To determine the best internet plan that will accommodate all your online activities, add each recommended speed stated above. The total that you come up with should be a good guide on what plan will work best for you and your family.
If you already have a fast internet plan for your home, but you’re still experiencing issues, make sure to read our guide on how to boost your WiFi signal here.