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If you’re shopping for a new ISP, you may find yourself asking what internet speed do I need or how many megabits per second do I need? Choosing the right Mbps for your internet speed needs is important. The wrong choice can leave you stuck when you don’t have enough speed and a “load” wheel becomes the norm, or when you have too much speed and pay for much more than you need.
How Much Mbps Is Fast
The FCC recommends a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps, which will allow you to check your email, surf the Internet, and watch a video, but on one device at a time.
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Most of us have internet needs that go a bit beyond the basics, such as joining video conferences, working and learning from home and gaming online, as many users in our home are trying to access it all at once on many devices.
In fact, the desire for faster speeds in the form of fiber connectivity is becoming more pervasive in American homes, as the FCC reports, “In 2019 alone, fiber broadband networks became available to about 6.5 million additional homes, the largest-ever annual increase.” , with smaller service providers accounting for 25% of these new fiber connections.” 2
So what is the right speed for you? The best download and upload speeds for you depend on how you use the Internet at home. Over 90% of our readers who take our Internet Speed Test broadcast TV daily, and over 25% stream in Ultra HD daily, which means fast internet speeds for them are close to 100Mbps.
If you have a family of four, you can probably make do with a 100Mbps plan. However, keep in mind that depending on what four of you are up to at the same time online it may cause some delays to your child’s video meeting or online game.
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The 200 to 400 Mbps plans may be worth the extra money per month for some families just for the peace of mind that you won’t freeze in the middle of that important meeting with your boss or lose all your progress on the last game.
Also keep in mind that having a medium-sized household with a 100Mbps plan, while doable, may cause some issues during your provider’s peak usage time. There’s not much left to pull off when all your neighbors are online, your kids and partner are streaming and playing and you’re trying to have a video meeting.
You can measure your current internet speed by running an internet speed test on a computer connected to your home network. Many internet speed tests also tell you when to test your connection and differentiate the upload and download speeds of your connection.
Try these helpful hacks to improve your internet speed. Or if you just want a little more bang for your buck, check out providers near you faster for the price. Either way, we’ll help you find what you need.
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Pro tip: For best results, use an Ethernet cord to connect your router or modem directly to your device before taking the test.
Depending on the type of broadcasting that you are going to do, the required internet speed may change. For example, streaming Spotify music will require less speed than streaming videos or shows. In general, to stream most videos in standard definition, you’ll need download speeds of at least 3Mbps. You need at least 25 Mbps to stream 4K video on your computer or Ultra HD enabled devices.
For Netflix, the minimum recommended internet speed for streaming is 3 Mbps, but recommended speeds vary depending on the quality you want to stream.
In contrast, for the best video quality, Hulu recommends 3 Mbps for on-demand viewing and 8 Mbps for watching live TV.
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To stream live TV using DIRECTV Stream, you will need a minimum internet speed of 2.5 Mbps, however, you may want to consider higher speeds depending on your device.
YouTube TV recommends a minimum internet speed of 3Mbps, but advises that the amount of speed you need may vary depending on the video quality.
You need minimum speeds of 4-8Mbps to play online, but for a consistently good gaming experience, 10-25Mbps tends to be the best. While searching for the best internet for gaming, keep in mind that download speed is not the only factor in a good gaming experience.
Speed is important because it is the speed at which your device transmits information from the game server. However, ping time and response time are also important.
How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?
Ping time, or latency, is more important to gaming than Internet download speeds. A ping time of 20ms or less is great while 20-100ms will give you a good gaming experience.
In general, higher speed plans will have lower latency, as data takes less time to travel. The FCC stated in its latest fixed broadband report that the average “measured mean latency ranged from 8ms to 28ms” in the ISPs it studied. These include Frontier, Windstream, Optimum, Comcast, Cox, and others.
Ping time can improve based on your download and upload speeds. However, factors like local area connection and internet latency affect ping time more than internet speeds.
But, how does one find out its ping time and are there ways to improve it under your control? To determine when to test your connection, run a simple internet speed test like the one above. In the results, you’ll find download and upload speeds, ping, jitter, and loss. If your ping is above optimal, here are some things to do to help lower it:
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The best internet for gaming is usually indoor cable internet since they both provide low latency internet connections, which means less ping time.
Indoor satellite tends to have high latency, even with fast download speeds, because the internet signal has to travel so far between its source (satellite) and its final destination (your device).
Fixed wireless Internet latency is lower than satellite because fixed wireless Internet signals do not travel through the atmosphere. Instead, they go from a local tower directly to your home antenna. Fixed wireless internet also provides speeds similar to cable and DSL internet. AT&T is a popular fixed wireless internet service provider in rural areas offering speeds ranging from 10 to 25 Mbps.
Satellite internet does not work well for sports or shooting games because they require fast data response times. Other online games such as online card games, role-playing games, strategy games, or puzzle games tend to work well with satellite internet.
Understanding Internet Speeds
Since many people around the world are playing sports and first-person shooter games simultaneously, these types of games may prevent satellite internet users from playing. They ban satellite users to prevent people from using the delay to their advantage and affecting the gaming experience of other players
To make your internet faster at home, you can boost your Wi-Fi signal to reduce response time. Resetting or moving the router can boost and stabilize the signal. You can also add a Wi-Fi repeater or extender to improve the internet signals for gaming devices far away from your router.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it possible for many of us to work from home and this has made us rely on our internet connections much more to accommodate this new lifestyle.
Two years into the pandemic, some workers are back at their desks, or at least in mixed roles, but not all of us. In fact, 6 in 10 American workers “who say their jobs can be done primarily from home (59%) work from home all or most of the time,” according to a February 2022 Pew Research article.
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The good news is that you probably don’t need to upgrade your internet connection to start working from home. Most business activities have relatively low bandwidth requirements.
The best internet speed for working from home depends on the type of work you do. If you frequently download and upload large files and participate in video meetings, we recommend download speeds of at least 25Mbps for households where only one person is working from home at a time. Here’s how much internet speed some of the most popular business applications require:
A word of caution: These numbers seem incredibly low compared to the 25 Mbps we recommend for working from home, but apps generally underestimate the speed you’ll need to seamlessly use their products.
As researchers at San Francisco State University found, “speeds below 5 Mbps are not sufficient for two-way interaction” on Zoom.
How To Check Your Internet Speed
. For error-free video meetings, they recommend download speeds of 20Mbps and upload speeds of 3Mbps. And if other devices are connected to Wi-Fi during the Zoom meeting, you’ll need more.
If you’re not sure how much speed you need – or even how much you’re currently getting – you can use the above speed test and quiz to gauge your situation.
There are a number of steps you can take to help get your internet speed up to a comfortable level for working from home. Here’s how to get it
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