What is Mbps and How Much Internet Speed Do I Really Need?

laptop phone and tablet

There’s nothing more frustrating than slow home internet, especially when you’re trying to snuggle up and watch your favorite Netflix show or trying to get some work done. But internet—as you’ve probably noticed—can get downright expensive, especially when you’re trying to increase the speed. Is there a happy medium where your shows don’t buffer for ages, but your wallet isn’t quite so thin?

Bandwidth Explained

Many consumers aren’t sure what internet speeds they need, and to stay connected, they’ll purchase expensive high-speed plans. Too many internet service providers are counting on this reality to sell high-speed plans that aren’t necessary for residential use. There is an in-between where you can fit the right internet service into your budget. Let’s start by exploring and defining bandwidth.

Bandwidth is the download rate of your internet service—in other words, it’s the maximum speed that you can download internet data to your computer. Bandwidth is often described as a hose and water flow: you can fill a pool much faster with a large hose that puts out more water per minute than a smaller one. In the internet industry, we measure bandwidth in megabits per second (Mbps).

How Much Do You Need?

There are some big internet providers out there that will promise enormous, fantastic, crazy-fast, super colossal internet speeds—all with the associated monthly fees, of course. But what many people don’t realize is that these speeds—such as 40+ Mbps—are far higher than they’ll ever need or use. Companies rope buyers in with promises of high-speed internet, using complicated jargon and banking on a lack of insider knowledge.

The worst part? Sometimes the fine print means you won’t even get the speed you think you’re paying for. For instance, a business could advertise a plan with speeds “up to 40 Mbps!” but only give you 4 Mbps—since your available bandwidth could be throttled by demand, hardware, and the quality of your provider’s infrastructure.

So what kind of speed do you really need for home internet? Here it is, broken down by our experts.

You’ll need…

  • 1-3 Mbps for social media and web surfing
  • 1-4 Mbps for video conferencing
  • 3-5 Mbps for online video streaming (there’s your Netflix fix)
  • 5-7 Mbps for HD video streaming (when you care about quality)

These numbers all relate to download speed; if you’re consistently uploading large files (broadcasting live video content, for example), consider choosing a plan with a fast upload speed.

Reliable home internet speeds aren’t that hard to find when you work with a trusted local company. Don’t pay for speed you won’t ever see or use, and instead invest in a realistic internet plan that covers the basics and keeps your family connected. For more information about how you can get the internet speed you need without paying a hefty price, contact us today, or click the button below to get a quote.