What You Need to Know About Internet Speeds
Most people assume that the higher the internet speed, the better off they are. But not everyone needs lightning fast internet—and you may be overpaying if you’re subscribing to a service that’s faster than you need.
If your kids have moved out, for example, and all you use the internet for is email and basic web browsing, you might be able to reduce your internet speed and save money. If you’re trying to work from home and your web conferencing is choppy, you probably need to increase.
To figure out where you stand, you need to understand how internet speed is measured and what your current speed is. Read on.
How are broadband speeds measured?
Broadband speeds are measured in ‘megabits per second’, often shortened to Mb Mbits p/s or Mbps. Bits are tiny units of data, with a megabit representing a million of them.
The higher the number of Mbps (megabits per second) you have, the speedier your online activity should be. A high number should mean that downloads complete more quickly, web pages load faster, streaming of music or videos begins more rapidly and any video calls or online games played should display smoothly.
How fast is ‘superfast’?
We define superfast broadband as being 24 Mbps or more.
How fast is your internet connection now?
You can test your current broadband speed here: speed tester
Or, search “broadband speed test” and follow the instructions.
Get the most accurate speed test results:
- Connect with wires. For the most accurate results, your computer should be connected to your router using an ethernet cable (not WiFi).
- Disconnect other wireless devices. Make sure no other devices or people use the broadband connection during the speed test.
- Close other programs. For the best results, close all other programs and internet browsers running on your computer and stop any active downloads.
Great, but what does that actually mean?
The table below gives a rough idea of how your connection speed will affect the time it takes to do tasks online:
If you want to complete more than one of these tasks at once you will need to add up how many Mbps it will take. Some people also just want to guarantee a seamless online experience—in this case, you’ll want to bump up the megabits.
What speed will my household need?
- 10-15 Mbps: Ideal for small households with basic internet needs, such as emailing, web browsing and some music or video streaming.
- 35-40 Mbps: Great for multi-user households that will be downloading and streaming. Also typically sufficient for working from home.
- 75+ Mbps: Best for heavy use of downloading, streaming and online gaming.
Learn more about the internet speeds you’ll need for specific activities. Check out What Internet Speed Do I Need? Key Numbers for Online Activities.