To find out if you have good internet speed, you first need to know what is actually considered good internet speed. If you had asked this question ten years ago, the answer would be very different today. In fact, if you put it down two years ago, you would see a huge leap. As such, good speed is relative to what you need.
Back then, music and video were stored offline, but now they are streamed. Home security once meant a dedicated system with a solid backup, but now you can stream to your phone from anywhere. And where there used to be grainy 720p video at best, we now stream in glorious 4K and HDR – all requiring more internet bandwidth than ever before.
It should also be noted that what may be good internet speed for one person may be completely unnecessary for another. If you’re just checking your emails and browsing a weird website, you can probably get away with low speed without even realizing it. But if you’ve got a house full of 4K video gamers and streamers, you’ll want a line with a little more grunt.
So, to find out what good internet speed is and whether you need to upgrade the broadband offerings, we are going to break it down a bit more so that you can apply the results to yourself.
How to define good internet speed
So far we have talked about speed as a single measure. In reality, it’s a bit more complicated as it breaks down into download speeds, upload speeds, and there are also ping times to consider.
Downloading, as you might have guessed, is the speed from your device sending data to the interwebs. This can be important if you participate in a video chat, but it matters less if you download a movie.
Downloading, the famous number that we focus on the most, is still important because it’s your flow from the web to you. If that number is low, everything will be bottlenecked through that small bandwidth, slowing you down.
Ping times are the speed at which the server responds to your device. This is important for gamers who want low latency responses so that they aren’t held back by delayed response times.
Usually a good way to measure your speed is to use a service like https://www.speedtest.net/ and see all that data live.
What is a good ping score?
As mentioned, the ping is the time it takes for the server to respond. It’s like throwing a ball across a surface and seeing how long it takes to get back into your hand. Some surfaces are hard and fast, others can be soft and slower to rebound.
So a good ping time is a weak one. These are measured in milliseconds (ms), so you can imagine that the deviations from this number are minimal. But if you gamble, it can make all the difference. Ideally, you want to have a ping time of less than 100ms, at least – something that is most often found with fiber broadband.
What is good download speed?
Download speed can vary wildly as many people don’t really look at this number when shopping but instead focus on the download bandwidth of the service. Decent download speed isn’t just about quickly saving photos to the cloud or getting smooth video chat. It is also the channel that tells the internet what you need.
Imagine having a conversation where the other person talks everything and you can barely say a word. This is what it is for your device if the download speed is limited. While this is rarely a problem, if you have a lot of devices on a single connection, each one telling the internet what they need, you could drown and experience lag.
A good upload speed is much slower than uploading, of course, but you still want to get at least 5 Mbps or more, ideally 10 Mbps. Streaming video is a good way to measure this where for HD streams you will need a minimum of 3 Mbps to get a decent result.
What is good download speed?
The most important number is download speed. Without it, even the best ping and download speeds aren’t useful. You’ll get your request on the internet fast and fast, and then you’ll just sit there and wait for the download speed to send your content back.
Netflix is a good measure here that says for 4K HDR quality video you will need a 25Mbps connection. But keep in mind that if you have other devices and other users on the same line, you may see a drop in quality. It’s like a two-lane road – there is only a limited number of cars that can pass. Extend it to a four-lane road and you can get more there.
How fast do you need?
At the start of this article, the speed for you is based on your needs. Hope it’s a bit clearer now how that breaks down into download, ping, and upload numbers.
Some key thoughts to keep in mind before upgrading or committing to a new broadband setup: Get more speed than you think, make sure download and ping times aren’t ignored, keep in mind how many devices or people this line needs to support and for how long.
The future will only mean more data using devices, so having room to grow is a useful option.