If you’re an internet user (and we’ll assume you are since you’re reading this blog), then the need for speed might be one of your basic concerns about your internet service. Browsing the web, streaming Netflix and checking Facebook all take a certain amount of bandwidth to work properly. So how much speed do you really need to do everything you’d like to online?
As it turns out, internet speed depends a lot on the amount of bandwidth you have at any given time. The term “bandwidth” refers to the volume of information per unit of time that an internet connection can handle. What does that jargon actually mean? Think about a road. Some roads are 10-lane highways, whereas some are just one-lane county roads. The larger the road, the more cars can fit on it — and the faster they can go without traffic slowing. At certain times of the day (like rush hour), so many cars end up on a road that traffic slows to a crawl. At other times (like 4 in the morning), there might only be a few cars on the road, and they can go as fast as the speed limit—or their personal sense of fearlessness—allows.
So how much bandwidth do you really need to do your favorite activities?
As it turns, you probably don’t need as much speed as you think you do. Many of our most-common online activities take less than 10 Mbps. Have a look:
- Checking email or browsing the web: 1 Mbps
- Streaming music: 2 Mbps
- Gaming: 1 to 3 Mbps (for most games)
- Video calling: 1 to 4 Mbps
- Standard definition video streaming: 3 to 4 Mbps
- High definition video streaming: 5 to 8 Mbps
So why would you need more than 10 Mbps or so of speed? Devices! The more devices you have on your connection, the more bandwidth you’ll take up. For example, if someone in your home is playing a video game (1-3 Mbps) and someone else is streaming Netflix in high definition (5-8 Mbps), then you’ll need around 11 Mbps for everyone to be happy. And since the average household has five connected devices these days, you can see how having a higher-speed connection can be helpful.
The general rule of thumb among internet service providers like Viasat is that 5-10 Mbps tend to be a decent speed for surfing and email plus occasional streaming and online gaming with a handful of devices. If your streaming habits are more frequent, you may need 10-25 Mbps.