When you start to shop around for internet service providers, one of the main functions that you will find yourself looking at is internet service speed. Obviously having faster internet is generally going to be better, but how much speed is actually enough for what you need to do?
For basic streaming, you can usually get away with a speed as low as 15 mbps, but if you are looking to stream 4K or do a lot of online gaming, you will want a minimum of 50 mbps, and you are probably even safer going with 100 mbps.
With that being said, everyone’s situation is different and there are other factors that you should consider when determining the best internet speed for you. It is also important to understand how internet speeds actually work, which we lay out down below.
How many people will be using the internet?
If you live in a household of four people and all of you are active internet users, you might want to look into higher speeds than if you were living by yourself.
Naturally, when more people are attached to the same internet connection, it slows the speed down, and that will only lead to frustration in gaming if you have other friends or family members using up all of the internet speed by streaming in another room.
What are others using the internet for?
On that note, you will want to take note of what the other members of your household generally use the internet for.
If you are a gamer, but the other members of your household are just casual internet browsers and social media scrollers, then you should be able to get by with 50 or 100 mbps.
On the other hand, if you live with two buddies that are also planning on gaming a lot, or streaming a lot, you will want to opt for the higher speeds or else tension will rise in the household very quickly.
How does Mbps actually work?
Mbps stands for “megabits per second” and is used to measure the download and upload speed of your internet service.
Every byte contains eight bits, and a megabit is equal to one-thousand bits. Therefore 100 Mbps would translate to 100,000 bits per second.
Knowing that, we can figure out that a 1 MB file would be equal to 8,000 bits, or 8 megabits. At a download speed of 100 mbps, downloading a 1 MB file would then take 8 seconds.
What are the required internet speeds for gaming?
To put things into perspective, online gaming generally requires a download speed of around 5 Mbps and upload speed of 1 Mbps. That tells you that 100 Mbps is more than enough speed for gaming.
On that note, if you have multiple gamers in the household connected to the same internet, those requirements will essentially be multiplied by the number of gamers that you have.
For example, if a game has requirements of 5 Mbps download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed for one gamer, the requirements would be 15 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed for three gamers.
What are the requirements for other activities?
Other internet activities require certain amounts of speed too, of course.
Video streaming will have a minimum requirement of around 10 Mbps download speed for a good, uninterrupted streaming experience.
Audio streaming has a much lower requirement of around 1 Mbps.
The higher-quality video you want to stream, the higher the requirements are. So if you are going to be streaming anything in 4K or Ultra-HD, the requirements come closer to a download speed of 25 Mbps.
What is the cost of faster internet?
Generally, you won’t find too many internet packages today that are offering anything less than 25 Mbps as their download speed.
This means that the most affordable internet packages are often good enough for households that are looking to browse the internet and stream-basic videos.
Perhaps if you are looking into doing a lot of heavy online gaming, or you are planning on streaming shows and movies in Ultra-HD, then you will want to look into higher speeds reaching at least 50 or 100 Mbps.
Even those speeds usually will not come at a cost that is going to break the bank for anybody. Once you get past 100 Mbps you might start to see some pricing that will make you think twice about paying for the internet, but if 100 Mbps is something that you really need, it should be affordable for you.
Check out the deals that your local provider has to offer.
Download and upload speeds are measured in megabits per second, which will tell you exactly how long it should take for any file to upload or download if you do the math.
The vast majority of internet packages today will include speeds that are generally fast enough for streaming video that is in HD or lower quality and will also be fast enough for audio streaming and other basic internet activities.
If you are a gamer and the only one in your household, you can find packages offering 50 to 100 Mbps at reasonable prices.
If the household consists of more people that are all looking to use the internet for gaming, or streaming any videos in higher quality than the HD, that is when you will want to start digging into higher-speed internet.
All things considered, 100 Mbps should be enough for online gaming in most situations.