Internet is an essential utility. Do you want to do your shopping? You will probably jump on Kroger. Want to listen to music? You will probably stream it on Spotify. Need to attend a class or meetings? The best guess is that you will reach Zoom.
Because we are so dependent on the internet, it is important to choose an internet service provider that offers fast internet speeds.
The question is how do you determine internet speed and what do you consider when selecting a plan that suits your needs?
What is internet speed?
The Internet is a global system of connected networks, and the speed at which your Internet-connected device exchanges data with this network is your Internet speed. Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps), but before we dive into the speed you need, knowing the meaning of certain Internet terms will make it much easier to choose the speeds you need.
Important Internet Speed ââTerms and Abbreviations You Should Know
Let’s take a look at some internet technical terms that will help you better understand the next section.
While your Internet speed is the speed at which you exchange data over a certain period of time, your bandwidth is the amount of data that you can get over a certain period of time. The greater the data flow, the better the speed.
Both terms are often misused, especially by Internet service providers (ISPs), to sell more expensive plans. They advertise that these plans offer better internet speeds without pointing out that they simply have more bandwidth. These more expensive plans with higher bandwidth simply allow more data packets to be sent at a time, giving the illusion of faster internet.
Latency is the time in which data moves from one part of a network to another. This means that an Internet service provider with a low latency network will offer better speed. Latency is measured in millionths of a second (Mrs), and it’s a term you might have come across if you’re an avid gamer.
Upload and download speeds
Download speed is the speed at which data is transferred from your device to the internet, and download speed is the speed at which data is sent from the internet to your device.
Bit, megabits, gigabits, bytes, kilobytes and megabytes
Bits are the smallest measure of data, and Internet speed measures the number of bits that can be moved per second. Megabits are one million bits, while gigabits are one billion bits. A byte is a unit of data equal to eight bits, a kilobyte corresponds to a thousand bytes, while a megabyte corresponds to a million bytes.
Mbit / s and Mbit / s
Mbps means Megabits per second and is used as a measure of internet speeds. On the other hand, MBps is Megabytes per second and is a measure of the speed at which data is transferred.
Your internet speeds will be displayed in Mbit / s, but your data transfer rate will be displayed in MB / s. It’s a little confusing, but all you have to do is watch the “B”.
Broadband Internet is commonly referred to as broadband, and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is the agency responsible for regulating it.
It has set a connection speed of 25 Mbps for download speed and 3 Mbps for download speed as the standard for broadband internet service.
The problem is, they made this decision in 2015, and it is woefully inadequate a little over half a decade later, as we consume higher quality internet content.
The continued reliance on this standard has left Americans paying more for better speed compared to other developed countries, as ISPs price Internet packages according to this standard. Same Congress noticed and asked the FCC to revise this.
How fast should your internet speed be in 2021?
The correct answer is “as fast as possible”, but that might be unwise as you might end up paying for speed you don’t need. Whether it’s for your home or business, how you plan to use the Internet determines how fast you need it. Various activities require a minimum speed, and the FCC has a basic internet speed guide for most activities.
For a lag-free experience, here are some minimum speeds you would need for various online activities:
- Email, music streaming, and light browsing: These are basic internet activities, so an average speed of 1 to 5 Mbps should be sufficient.
- Social media: Having internet speeds of 5-10 Mbps should be sufficient for uploading photos or videos or watching TikTok or YouTube videos.
- Personal video calls and videoconferencing: An average speed of 5-10 Mbps is sufficient to avoid those pesky Zoom delays.
- Video streaming: For your Netflix and HBO Max or other video streaming, speeds of 10-15Mbps are acceptable.
- Games: This requires that you have minimum speeds of 10 to 25 Mbps.
- Heavy downloads and high definition video streaming (4K): It is desirable to have speeds between 35 and 50 Mbps.
These recommendations are based on the assumption that you are only streaming to one device at a time. If you share the Internet with other inhabitants of your house, the bandwidth should increase accordingly.
To decide which internet speed is right for you, there is a simple rule you can follow. First, divide the speed you want to achieve by the total number of devices your business or household intends to use. The result should be in the range of 25-50 Mbps. At this range, you should have sufficient speeds to perform all your internet activities stress-free.
How To Speed ââUp Your Internet
It is not uncommon to notice that your ISP is not getting the maximum internet speed available. The best way to fix this is usually to call their customer service, but sometimes the response time can be lousy, so here are some quick internet speed tips to help you out:
Try resetting your modem or router.
Move your modem or router to a new location. Walls or other electronic devices around it can interfere with reception.
Devices that are not in use should be disconnected from the Internet to free up bandwidth.
Use Ethernet cables whenever possible.
Check and confirm that only authorized users are on your network
Check regularly for malware and use an antivirus.
Installing a Wi-Fi mesh system will dramatically improve the range of your router without sacrificing speed.
Finally, you might just want to change your ISP or replace the default router. Replacing your default router will give you greater configuration options for your Internet connection.
The bottom line
Deciding on the internet speeds you need isn’t as easy as it looks, or as easy as ISPs would like you to believe. According to experts, you should consider the number of devices that will simultaneously connect to your network, as well as what you plan to do with your connection.
To choose the best services or plans for your needs, you must first understand your bandwidth needs. It depends more on the apps used, but as users start to do more things like video calling and sharing movies, downloading becomes more and more important. Download speeds are also important for people working remotely from home, affecting things like screen sharing and online conference calls.
If you don’t see the speeds you’re paying for, it might be time to call your service provider.
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