How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?

Today’s Internet is more sophisticated than ever before, and innovations in speed and throughput have only made the future look faster. Graphics take longer to load at slower speeds, and functions that require good latency, like video games and streaming movies or music, also have required Internet speeds to run efficiently.

We do a lot of important things online, too. Job applications are mostly online, and government assistance applications are almost exclusively online. Schools of all grades from kindergarten to college are using online communications to hold classes, with some students rarely setting foot in a classroom.

Internet access is rapidly becoming a more important part of everyday life. People are fulfilling their everyday needs, from groceries to medicines to household items, by shopping online. Internet users can even have routine doctor visits from the privacy of their own living rooms.

So how does this all affect the amount of speed you need for your home Internet?

You Can Never Have Too Much Speed!

The more speed you have, the faster the web pages you visit will load. Many cities offer gigabyte (GB) speeds of 1000 Mbps as the standard, and locales with a lot of infrastructure, such as smaller cities and large towns, usually have 100 Mbps plans available. Some areas might only have from 12 to 25 Mbps available, but even these speeds can be adequate for Internet use. You can check what Internet plans and speeds are available by putting your zip code here or calling 1-833-933-2468.

Two other important factors to consider are throughput and latency. Throughput means that Internet traffic travels both ways smoothly. This means that your requests (such as typing in a web address) are sent efficiently and that they are answered (the website fully loaded on your browser) promptly. Slow throughput can make even the fastest speeds lag, especially during periods of high traffic.

Latency refers to how complete the data that passes through the system remains during transfer. Sometimes data suffers what is known as “packet loss,” which is when it becomes distorted and loads slowly. This is usually a result of a need for infrastructure maintenance or outdated receiver equipment, but can also occur if you are running an app or program that requires more speed than you have. Fast speeds can prevent latency.

How to Determine Your Speed Range

Once you know what plans you have available to you, the next step is to examine the Internet use in your home. This is dependent on many factors because there are a lot of devices that need the Internet to operate. Business owners can use the same parameters to examine use in the workplace.

So what factors can help you determine a good Internet speed for your use?

  • Number of people in your household: the more people using your Internet, the more traffic is being generated in your home.
  • Number of devices: most people have some combination of a cell phone, a tablet, a laptop, a personal computer and a gaming console, each of which counts as a device. Many have multiple devices on the same internet connection. This also applies to smart home items – every light bulb, thermostat, or doorbell ringer counts as a device.
  • What kinds of devices: some devices use more speed and data by nature. Others might use a little or a lot, depending on what you use them to do online.
  • What you use the internet for: how you use the Internet is one of the most important factors for determining your speed. Some common uses include:
  • Video – streaming video to watch movies and using apps to make video calls occupies a lot of broadband. High quality video, such as 1080 or 4K resolution, requires faster speeds to view or download.
  • Online gaming – while solo or smaller multiplayer games may not require a lot of speed, more recent games and expansions depend upon speed for reliable response times. Esports players in particular need to be able to react to one another or the game environment in real time.
  • Music – streaming platforms for music, such as Spotify, Pandora, or PlugDJ, need a little speed to play audio smoothly, especially if multiple household members are listening to different streams.
  • Wi-Fi – many devices around the house use wireless Internet, which has become a standard offering on most packages.
  • What kind of Internet service is available in your area: Internet can come from different sources, such as a cable or telephone provider, so some types and speeds may not be available in some areas. Rural areas are some of the most affected.
  • Data caps: while data limits on most wireline services is very high, it still has a cap and if you exceed it, you could be throttled or deprioritized during high-traffic periods. Fixed wireless and cell phones have lower data caps, but also ways to purchase extra data.

Types of Internet Service

In the early days of the Internet, the only way to get online was with dial-up through your telephone line. It could be interrupted by call waiting or tie up the phone line for the entire house, plus provided slow Internet. That was okay back then, because web pages were simple and didn’t need the speed.

Today, high speed Internet is required for a lot of Internet activities. Even looking at a web store or checking email is more complex behind the scenes than it was in those first days, mainly to bring more convenience to users. As Internet speeds have gotten faster through 2G, 3G, 4G, and now 4G LTE, large files, high resolution graphics, and embedded videos are almost always on websites. 5G is poised to make this even faster, as shown in the cities where it is available.

So what types of Internet service are out there, and what do they have to do with speed?

  • Cable Internet and DSL are provided by connecting the same copper wiring for cable and telephone service to the Internet. As the Internet has gotten faster, the wiring used has evolved, allowing more data to pass through, usually 100-500 Mbps.
  • Fiber Internet can run up to 1 Gbps, which is 1000 Mbps. This is because the wires are made from glass fibers, which are more efficient than copper at transmitting data.
  • Satellite Internet is fixed wireless that bounces a signal directly from your home to the Internet using satellites in space. While not as fast as cable, DSL, or fiber, fixed wireless is the perfect solution for people in rural or remote areas of the country.

If you want to know what types of Internet are available in your area, just put your zip code here, or call 1-833-933-2468. You can find out if you have the speed you need, or if there are better deals in your area than your current service. The Internet is getting faster, and keeping up is just a click away!