How Much Bandwidth/Internet Speed Do I Really Need?

Everyone deserves reliable and fast internet service. As time goes on, we find ourselves relying more and more on the simplicity that comes with the internet. But how do you know how much bandwidth—or internet speed—you really need?

The amount of bandwidth or internet speed that you need greatly depends on what you’re using your internet for. The bandwidth needed to check your email is very, very different from the bandwidth needed for online gaming. And the only thing more frustrating than having subpar internet?

Paying for more internet speed than you actually need.

So what’s the right internet speed for your needs? How can you ensure a reliable internet connection? Let’s take a deeper look!

What Are Mbps?

Mbps, or megabytes per second, are used to measure network bandwidth. It’s the download rate of your internet connection. The higher the amount of Mbps, the faster your internet speed is.

What is the Right Amount of Internet Speed

The right amount of internet is going to vary depending on your situation. How many devices are going to be regularly using your internet? What are you using your internet for? Here are some examples:

  • Email: 1 Mbps
  • Web Browsing: 5 Mbps
  • Social Media: 10 Mbps
  • Streaming: 20 Mbps
  • Online Gaming: 20 Mbps
  • 4k Streaming: 35 Mbps

If you’re planning on using your internet primarily for keeping your inbox clean and scrolling through your Instagram feed, you don’t need a ton of Mbps to get the job done. However, if you’re going to be working from home or streaming your favorite show on Netflix, you’ll want to consider a package with better bandwidth for a more efficient internet speed.

Number of Devices Using Your Internet

Something else you’ll want to determine is how many different devices are going to be using your internet. If it’s just one phone and one computer, you shouldn’t see speed issues.. However, if everyone in your family has a phone and a computer that is going to be using the internet, you’ll want to consider something a little more efficient.

Think about it: let’s say it’s you and your spouse and you have three children. We will assume you all have phones using the internet. Maybe you and your spouse each have a computer, with another shared computer that your kids use for homework. Add a gaming console and a tablet, or two, and you’re looking at a lot of devices that are competing for connection. This can slow the internet speed down if you don’t have enough Mbps.

When you’re looking at a household with multiple devices, we recommend having somewhere between 35 and 50 Mbps to properly accommodate your internet needs.

Upload Speed vs. Download Speed

When we’re talking about Mbps, this refers to the download speed of your internet. But what about upload speed? Is there a difference between the two?

Yes, there is a difference between upload and download speed. Download speed is all about how quickly data can be transferred from the internet to your computer, while upload speed is referring to how quickly you can transfer data from your computer to the internet.

They’re both incredibly important. They go hand in hand. But there is a distinct difference between the two.

Often, download speed is advertised more prominently because the bulk of internet users need fast internet. Additionally, most users don’t rely as much on fast upload time, but when the time comes to upload, it’s a big deal. You want it to be fast. An internet provider might have great download speed, and that’s fine and good. But a quality internet service will have both download and fast upload speed and that serves you well.

So while you might find an internet service that has incredible download speed, you also want to research what their upload speed is.

What’s the Deal with Ping and Latency?

There are a ton of online gaming opportunities today, and if you are into online gaming, you know that you need an exceptional internet connection to be successful. Often, when considering gaming and the internet, you’ll hear the terms “ping” and “latency”.

But what do they mean? Why do they matter?

Latency is very similar to upload speed. They’re essentially the same. Latency is the amount of time that it takes for data to travel from your device to the server. Sometimes referred to as lag, having effective latency is going to make a world of difference in your gaming experience.

Ping is the unit of measurement used to measure latency. The higher your ping rate, the slower your latency is.

If you’re going to be playing online game whether it’s once a week or once a day—you’re going to want to look for an internet service provider that boasts low ping rates and reliable internet stability.

When it comes to how many Mbps you should have for gaming, according to gamingdesign.org, “An agreed-upon amount of Mbps for adequate gaming is somewhere around 20+. Anything below 20 could result in some irritating lag that ruins your experience.”

How Much is Too Much?

While it may not feel like internet speed is something you can have too much of, we do believe that there comes a point where you could potentially go overboard. This is why it’s so important to assess your internet habits and understand exactly how many Mbps you’ll need.

For example, let’s say you’re mainly using your internet to browse social media which requires about 10 Mbps, but you’re paying for a plan that gives you upwards of 35 or 40 Mbps. You’re looking at an unnecessarily high internet bill when you could manage with a less expensive plan.

Beware of Data Caps

A data cap is a cap on the amount of data that you can use in a given period of time. The data cap is determined by the internet plan you choose, and for most providers, can be changed at any time to accommodate your needs (another good reason to assess your internet usage before going with a plan!).

What happens when you surpass your data cap? It depends on the internet provider, but you’ll likely end up with a hefty bill at the end of the month. It’s especially easy to pass that data cap with your mobile devices. With scrolling through social media, checking your email, and watching shows on various streaming services, your set amount of data can get used up pretty quickly.

Avoid a negative experience with your data cap by choosing a plan that properly accommodates the internet usage in your home. If you have multiple people with multiple devices in your house, we recommend choosing a plan with a high cap, or even one with unlimited usage.

What to Anticipate with Costs

Now for the question of the hour—how much is it going to cost? You want to get quality internet service without breaking the bank, which can feel challenging at times. As with some of the other points we’ve covered, the cost is going to depend greatly on your individual needs. 

For basic home internet plans, many start at around $50 a month. What will this give you? You can stream a show on one device and browse social media on the other. The pricing will increase depending on the number of devices and what you’re using it for, increasing to about $90-$100. This will get you 4K streaming, cloud backup, home automation—in other words, the works.

You can find more details on pricing on our residential broadband internet page.

Everyone deserves fast and reliable internet. Once you consider the needs of your family and household, it’s much easier to determine what internet speed you will need to accommodate all of you.

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