How Much Internet Speed Do You Really Need?
Reliable internet may be something you take for granted, but even the most basic of plans can spell financial hardship for low-income households.
In some cases, free internet is available. A member of your household must meet specific financial criteria to be eligible. Tap or click here to learn how to get free internet. How do you know if you’re paying too much if you do pay for internet?
Do you work from home? Is anyone in your house a hardcore gamer? Do you stream high-definition content from multiple devices at the same time? Your answers to these questions can help you determine how much internet speed you need.
First of all, do you get what you pay for? If your plan includes download speeds of 500 Mbps, you should be getting this. You won’t always see the exact number, but it should generally be close. You can check your download and upload speeds at speedtest.net† If there is a problem, please contact your ISP.
If you get the speed you pay for but notice delays, it could be due to several factors. These include the number of devices connected, how much is streaming 4K, simultaneous streams, gaming, live streaming, security cameras, video conferencing, and more. In that case, you may need to upgrade your subscription.
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Another thing to check is if your router is in a good location. Walls and appliances can disrupt the wireless signal and slow everything down. You want to place your router high and away from other electronics. Tap or click here for more tips on finding the best place for your router.
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Streaming Service Recommendations
Popular streaming services recommend internet download speeds to help you know what you need to stream smoothly. Here are some examples:
Netflix recommends 1 Mbps for standard definition streaming, 3 Mbps for 720p HD, 5 Mbps for 1080p HD, and 15 Mbps for 4K/UHD. Stream YouTube videos, you should have 1.1 Mbps for standard 480p, 2.5 Mbps for 720p HD, 5 Mbps for 1080p HD, and 20 Mbps for 4K.skype recommends 300 Kbps for standard video calls, 1.5 Mbps for HD video calls, 2 Mbps for group video calls of 3 people, and the number increases the more people are in your session.Pandora recommends a consistent 150 Kbps for standard music streaming and at least 300 Kbps for high-quality audio.
So how much internet speed do you really need?
Depending on how much you do at home, you may not need blazing fast internet speeds. If you’re streaming content on one device and mostly checking email and social media from your phone, you’ll be fine with slower speeds. If your home is full of smart and connected devices, you want the service to support them all.
Here are some general guidelines to get you started:
If you only have a few devices connected to your Wi-Fi and use your network primarily to browse the web, a 10 Mbps plan should suffice. If you watch a lot of videos and download tons of media, 25 Mbps should be fine for you. If you participate in online gaming and/or want to stream content, you need 100 Mbps or more. For simultaneous streaming, online gaming and downloading on many devices, you’re fine with 500 Mbps.
Keep an eye on your data limit. Your ISP may reduce your speed or even charge you for exceeding the limit if you exceed it.
Consumer reports have created an internet speed calculator that you can use to determine how many Mbps you need. It’s easy to use and can give you a rough estimate to get you started. Tap or click here for more information.
Once on the site, you’ll see a list of devices that require internet to perform. It includes devices to check email, stream 4K content, group video calls, and more.
Press the + button for each device you use. For example, if you have two TVs streaming 4K content, press the + button twice to display those devices. Do that for any device that connects to your Wi-Fi and the tool will let you know how much internet speed you need.
If your options are limited
Rural people do not have the luxury of choice compared to city dwellers. Poor connection speeds are more common in sparsely populated areas, and in those cases a satellite may be the best option.
Unlike cable, fiber, or DSL internet, you can get satellite services almost anywhere. You can do the same things like streaming and gaming, but satellite prices tend to be higher, while speeds tend to be slower.
A reader wrote earlier this year with questions about satellite services. They also asked if they could expand their internet service on their property without getting a second service. We answered their questions and provided some product and service recommendations. Tap or click here to see it all.
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