There is no such thing as “good internet Mbps” for everyone, mainly because the ideal internet speed depends on how much a household or office requires. Is 10 Mbps too slow? Is 100 Mbps fast enough? So how do you figure out the actual Mbps plan to subscribe to? This mini-guide should help you figure this out:
What is a Good Internet Speed?
Most people in the US have internet with 12 to 25 Mbps download speeds.
The cheapest “basic” plans range between 3 to 8 Mbps, while plans defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as “fast” is around 25 Mbps download speed with at least 3 Mbps upload speed.
Note that every internet provider will have its own standard when it comes to “fast internet.” Some even advertise download speeds to be higher than they actually are. As such, it is best to learn your actual internet requirements to be able to choose the plan closest to your needs.
How Heavy is Your Internet Use?
Every activity you do online needs an internet connection. It doesn’t matter if the activity is as simple as reading your morning news or as advanced as online gaming with multi-tasking involved; All of these contribute to the overall speed of your internet.
- Light use: Sending emails, voice calls, streaming music, working on Google docs, social media, and watching YouTube videos are all samples of light internet use. These activities can easily be accommodated by basic plans of 3 to 8 Mbps.
- Moderate use: Downloading large files, online gaming, peer-to-peer file sharing, streaming HD videos, etc, are common activities but use more bandwidth than “light use activities.” This level of activity requires a higher plan from 10 to 25 Mbps.
- Heavy use: All activities considered light and moderate use done multiple times more, on top of cloud backup, syncing, all-day gaming, working with image-heavy sites, downloading massive files can be considered as heavy use. Any plan above 25 Mbps should be able to handle this level of activity.
The recommended plans above are accurate only if 1 to 2 people are performing the activities.
The more people there are in a household or office connected to a single connection, the bigger the internet requirement would be.
- A small architectural firm with 5 employees downloading and uploading CAD files cannot survive on a 5 Mbps connection. Instead, anything above 100 Mbps would be ideal.
- A household with 2 people competing in esports needs super-fast internet because having less than required could mean losing out on online games.
- An office or household with just 3 people surfing the web for work and entertainment can complete their tasks even with just basic internet plans (below 10 Mbps), but if the office or household is equipped with wifi-enabled security cameras, then the internet requirement would increase completely to 50 Mbps or higher.
As you might have guessed, the number of devices connected to a single plan must also weigh into your consideration. This doesn’t just mean the obvious devices like your desktop, laptop, smartphones, tablets, and portable devices. This could also include security devices that work in the background and “smart” devices such as electric kettles, smart refrigerators, home hubs, smart speakers, gaming consoles, modern lighting, and other similar gadgets.
What Internet Speeds Can I Get?
There are internet plans that go beyond 100 Mbps. You can find 250 Mbps, 300 Mbps, 400 Mbps, 500 Mbps, 1000 Mbps, and up to a whopping 2,000 Mbps. However, the internet speeds you can get depend largely on what kind of internet connection you can find available in your area.
The three most common types of internet connections are DSL, cable, and fiber:
- DSL (digital subscriber line): Because DSL internet connects to a phone line, phone companies like AT&T offer this kind of internet with download speeds of 5 to 35 Mbps.
- Cable: This kind of internet uses the line from your cable TV and features download speeds ranging from 10 to 500 Mbps.
- Fiber: Fiber internet uses fiber-optic cable to connect you online. It is the fastest internet available these days with 250 to 1,000 Mbps download speeds.
There are also dial-up connections (that are outdated and can only provide a maximum 0.056 Mbps (56k) download and upload speed), but about 3% of the US population still use them. For rural or remote areas, satellite internet is the best option and it can reach up to 150 Mbps. The downside to satellite internet is that they’re more expensive than DSL, cable, and fiber internet.
To know if you need an upgrade in your service, you have to compute your internet requirements and adjust based on what you learned above. Understanding these details will help you decide if switching to another provider (or another type of internet) is necessary to accommodate your internet needs.