When you shop around for Internet service, you’ll see companies mentioning different speeds, like 25 Mbps or even 500 Mbps. If you’re confused by these numbers, you’re not alone. When I went to switch plans when I moved, I had no idea what my provider was talking about.
I just wanted Internet, and I didn’t want to pay a lot for it. That was my biggest mistake. Does this mean that you should pay an arm and a leg for Internet? No. But if your speeds are slow, you may not be able to do some to the things you normally do on the Internet.
My first plan was a disaster. I chose the cheapest option and got the slowest possible speeds. Websites took forever to load. Forget about streaming Netflix.
That’s when I started doing more research on Internet speeds and why they matter. I had questions, like “what is a good internet speed?” and how do I get to that speed?
If you’re in the same boat that I was in, I’m going to save you time by explaining what a good download speed and upload speed is.
Your Internet speed depends on how much data your connection can transfer each second. This is measured in megabits of data per second, or Mbps.
Mbps refers to the rate at which your service provider delivers data to and from your house. These are your download and upload speeds.
Your download speed refers to how many megabits of data per second it takes to download information from a server. Information can refer to text, images, video and more.
Every time you stream a movie on Netflix or listen to music through a streaming service, you are downloading data.
As you may have guessed, upload speed is the opposite of download speed. It refers to how many megabits of data per second is transferred from your home network to a server on the Internet or another device.
When you send an email or video chat with a friend, you are uploading data to a server somewhere.
Now that you understand the difference between upload and download speeds, you may be wondering what speeds are considered “good.”
I remember when I first moved to my house. I thought I had fast Internet. As it turned out, I had an extremely slow connection. I was just so used to having slow Internet that I thought it was normal. Web pages took 15-20 seconds to fully load. If this sounds like your Internet, then you can be confident that your connection is slow.
When people ask, “what is a fast internet speed?” they’re normally referring to the download speed. Yes, upload speed is important, too. But most people want to know whether they’ll be able to stream movies or music and visit web pages without buffering or long load times.
So, what is considered a good download speed?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a good download speed is at least:
Anything faster than this is considered a “fast” download speed. Currently, the fastest home Internet speed is 2 Gbps, and there’s only one provider that offers it in a very limited area.
If you want to see how your WiFi measures up, you can check download speeds through Google and other free testers. Just search for “check Internet speed” on Google, and you should have the option to tap a button to check.
What if you have slow download speeds? Is there anything you can do? Yes! The first thing I recommend is getting a WiFi range extender. It may not necessarily be your Internet connection that’s slow. It may be that you have a weak connection in other parts of your home that is making it seem slow.
An extender will expand your WiFi connection so that it reaches those dead zones in your house. There lots of WiFi extenders on the market, but one of my favorites is Netgear Nighthawk AC1900.
You can also upgrade your Internet package if you have the extra money. These are the two most reliable ways to boost your speeds. I’ve seen people recommend that you change your IP address or do other crazy things to increase your speeds, but these “hacks” don’t usually work.
Believe it or not, upload speeds are important, too – especially if you’re a gamer. Each time you send an email, play a game online or share media (videos, photos, etc.), you’re uploading data.
The faster your upload speed, the faster you can publish media and the less latency you’ll have when playing games online.
The FCC says a good upload speed is at least:
Anything slower than this is considered a slow connection, and anything faster is considered fast Internet.
When you run an online speed test, it will check both your download and upload speed, so you can see where you stand.
You know that 25 Mbps is a decent Internet speed. Right now, I get about 40 Mbps, and with those speeds, I can do pretty much anything. I can stream movies, listen to music and play online games – all at the same time.
But these speeds do come at a higher price.
It’s important to understand what speed is best for you and your Internet habits. Otherwise, you may be paying more for something you don’t really need. Let’s look at what different Internet speeds can handle:
f you only use the Internet to browse websites and do simple work tasks, like writing emails, then you don’t need to pay more for faster speeds.
But if you plan to do some online gaming or you want to stream HD on multiple devices, you’ll want to aim for speeds of at least 40 Mbps.
Knowing your Internet speed will help you determine whether you need faster speeds and how to achieve it. I recommend trying a WiFi extender and seeing if that helps with slow speeds in dead zones before upgrading to a faster plan.
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