Despite paying a hefty price for your monthly internet service, it is quite possible to find yourself frustrated by slow internet speeds. This is especially true for households inclined towards extensive streaming in high-definition and online gaming, whether it is the new Call of Duty or that all-time classic Counter-Strike.
Broadband speed is one the biggest factors you need to keep in mind while signing up for an internet service provider. After all, it determines how quickly you can perform your online activity and how many activities your internet connection can handle at a single time. Everyone likes to complete day-to-day tasks on the internet without having to face any troubles with the connection.
However, when you decide to sign-up, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the talk surrounding megabits and gigabits. Therefore, we came up with a comprehensive guide on internet speed for the consumers.
This guide will help you understand your requirements and all the things you need to consider in your internet service provider.
What is Internet Speed and Why is it Important?
In simple terms, internet speed refers to how fast you can perform your online activities, whether it is downloading a video or sending a file. This is important especially if you are new to the world of broadband and are looking for a decent internet connection.
There is a high chance that you might end up signing for lesser speed than your requirements. For starters, internet speed is of two types:
Download Speed: It refers to the amount of data you can get from the server. The data you download can be in any form, such as images, music, text, or files. Different activities have different requirements for data. For example, activities like streaming your favorite shows in high-definition will require more data and download speed.
Upload Speed: It refers to how fast you can send information from one network to another through your internet. The upload speed is usually less than the download speed. This is because an average household requires much more downloading than uploading. However, activities like video calls require faster upload speeds.
Most importantly, you need to understand that whenever you sign up for an internet service provider for let’s say, a 100 Mbps download speed, always remember that you will receive “up to” 100 Mbps. The download speeds are not fixed. They keep on fluctuating because of network congestion.
Another factor that influences internet speed is bandwidth.
Many people confuse bandwidth with internet speed. However, in reality, these are two entirely different aspects of the internet. We already talked about how internet speed refers to the time taken to receive the data from servers. Bandwidth, on the other hand, refers to the individual capacity of an internet connection.
To understand this, let us take the example of a highway. During peak hours, it gets blocked due to traffic and has limited lanes. The internet is just like the highway. It can accommodate a certain level of traffic at one point in time and during peak times, it becomes quite impossible to allocate the bandwidth.
Moreover, if multiple users in your house are involved in high-definition streaming and online gaming simultaneously, your internet will not be able to allocate the bandwidth equally and everyone will experience reduced speeds and buffering.
Which Connection Type Offers Better Internet Speed?
While signing up for a new connection, you’ll come across several connection types. Each connection has its pros and cons. Let us discuss them individually:
Cable: Cable is one of the most popular mediums of internet and television service in the U.S. It uses coaxial wiring for the transmission of high-speed internet and high-definition cable. It is the most common choice among consumers, and supports speeds up to 1000 Mbps. Among the cable internet options, Spectrum internet is a good choice. They have a steady connection, ultra-fast speeds, and free internet modem. Cox internet is another popular choice, but it is available in only 17 to 18 states.
Fiber: Fiber internet uses fiber optic wires for the transmission of super-sonic internet. It is the fastest available technology in the world. However, the only problem with fiber is its availability. Since there is a huge infrastructure cost associated, it is not widely available as of yet. However, with fiber, you can easily get more than 1 Gbps download speed, steadier connection, and smoother streaming experience.
DSL: Digital Subscriber Line is an upgrade of dial-ups, and its uses special wiring similar to that of phone lines. The internet speeds through DSL are slower as compared to fiber and cable. Telephone companies utilize this technology to deliver broadband to urban and suburban communities of the U.S.
Satellite: Satellite internet is a good choice in areas where cable and fiber cannot reach due to geographical restraints. The speeds are up to 25 Mbps. Unlike cable, satellite offers constant speeds, but faces weather interference problems. Moreover, it is not the right choice for gamers. With satellite internet, you will experience a considerable lag in games like PUBG or Call of Duty that require a quick and constant response from the server.
How Much Internet Speed do you Need for Gaming?
Different systems have different requirements for internet speed. However, there are general guidelines which you can follow to get the most suitable internet speed for your online gaming experience. Here are the minimum requirements:
For PC Gamers: All the PC gamers call themselves the true gamers, and preferably use Ethernet cable to connect to the internet instead of Wi-Fi. It gives a steadier connection and reliability. If you play online games on your PC, you should at least have 10 Mbps for downloading. The minimum upload speed should be 2 Mbps.
For PS4 Gamers: In this decade, PS4 surely won the cultural battle over Xbox. The exclusive titles were hard to let go of. For PS4 gamers, the minimum internet speed should be 15 Mbps. Since the times are changing and we are more inclined towards digital games as compared to the physical discs, it is better to have high-speed internet. After all, no one wants to wait days to play his or her favorite games. Mediacom internet is a safe choice with speeds up to 1000 Mbps.
For Xbox Gamers: Many people still prefer Xbox to PS4 due to its high specifications. The internet speed requirements are the same for Xbox. You need at least 15 Mbps to download to play Halo and all the other online games.
Best Internet Speed for Streaming
Just like gaming, every streaming service has a minimum internet speed requirement. If your current internet has trouble loading the videos on YouTube, the connection might not be fast enough.
Netflix automatically adjusts the quality of the video based on the connection speed available. In the case of slower internet speed, you will not be able to stream movies and shows in high-definition. Here are some basic speed requirements for streaming:
- For viewing a standard definition video i.e. 480p, you need 3 Mbps.
- High definition video streaming in 720p or 1080p requires up to 10 Mbps.
- For streaming in 4K, you need more than 25 Mbps speed.
However, bear in mind that these speeds are for a single user. If you have multiple users streaming in high-definition simultaneously, you will need a connection that has more than 50 Mbps speed.
What Speed Should I Get for my Household?
Since every household has different internet usage patterns, the speed requirements differ.
Basic Usage: If your household has a basic usage that involves checking social media, sending emails and paying online bills, internet speed up to 25 Mbps is more than enough for you.
Medium Usage: If you have 2-3 people in your house with a medium usage consisting of checking social media feed, emailing, online bill payments and streaming, you need at least 50 Mbps.
High usage: For households with extensive usage that involves high-definition streaming, online gaming and downloading, the internet connection must be wired to at least 100 Mbps. You can jump to 200 Mbps or 400 Mbps for smoother streaming and downloading.
How to Check your Internet Speed?
There are tons of applications available on the PlayStore and Apple store which will help you check your internet speed. You can download any of them. These applications run a speed test to detect your download and upload speed. Moreover, you can also check your speed on a browser. Just type “Internet Speed Test” on Google and you will find many third-party websites to check your speed.
What to do if your Internet Speed is Low?
You might experience slower internet speed despite paying a hefty amount to the ISP. There can be multiple reasons behind it. You might have outdated equipment, the position of your router can be incorrect, or there can be a problem with your internet service itself. You can try resetting your equipment too and see if that works. If you still get a slower speed, it is time to call your internet service provider. Many providers such as Spectrum invest heavily in their customer service. If you have a problem with the internet, you can always call Spectrum customer service to report it so that they can fix it ASAP!
Not knowing the ins and outs of internet speed might actually put you at a disadvantage when you go out in the market to shop for internet. That is why, this post serves as an ideal guide to consumers who are broadband novices, and helps them pick the right internet speed.