In times of remote work and being forced to stay at home in quarantine, it’s more vital than ever to have internet speeds that can keep up with your demands. Between completing work-related tasks, getting online to pay and manage bills, and spending free time surfing, streaming, and gaming, you have to know which internet speeds will work best for you before deciding on a provider and a plan.
To make the decisions easier on you, we’ve put together a short guide to figuring out what internet speeds you need for the activities you’ll be doing the most throughout the average day or workweek. Whether you have Charter DSL, HughesNet Satellite Internet, Verizon Fios, or any other internet service provider near you, this guide is for you!
Why Do Your Internet Speeds Matter?
For those of you who might not be up to snuff on your internet terminology, that’s okay! We’re here to help explain everything. Your internet speeds are important because they determine how quickly you are able to perform everyday tasks. By speeds, we mean the speed at which the data you request comes back to your computer (ie. how long it takes you to open Facebook after typing it into the search bar and hitting “enter”).
If your speeds are super slow, it means that even simple tasks like checking your email or paying a phone bill online could take longer than it should.
Think of it like this: if you’re scrubbing dishes in the sink with a sponge and lots of soap, will your task be finished sooner if you have small amounts of water dripping out to rinse your dishes or a steady stream to wash off the soap?
Trying to complete tasks online is like trying to rinse your soapy dishes with a trickle of water. It will get the job done eventually, but you’d be better off turning your sink faucet on fully.
How to Test Your Speeds First
The question that many people first pose when it comes to the internet speeds is “how do I even know what 25 Mbps or 1 Gig will be like?” To get a bit of a comparison, try running a speed test through Google or any other site to see what your current internet speeds are. Whether they’re reasonable or super slow, seeing what you’re working with now will give you a better idea of what higher or lower speeds could be like.
And, obviously, it gives you a starting point for speeds. For example, if you’re currently getting speeds of 10 Mbps and are having major issues getting your tasks done, start searching for internet plans instead that offer 25 Mbps or higher.
Types of Internet Technology
Internet speeds can vary greatly based on the plan you have but also on the type of internet technology you choose. With each technology comes a few unique differences on speeds, how data is transmitted, and so much more:
Dial-Up – We all remember the days of dial-up when you had to warn someone you were expecting a phone call before letting family members jump online. The most outdated form of internet, dial-up is virtually extinct and only used in extremely remote places. It cannot support a ton of activity, and because it ties up your phone line, it is also inconvenient.
DSL – Short for Digital Subscriber Line, DSL also utilizes phone line technology but unlike dial-up doesn’t tie up the phone line (ie. you can still make calls while you or another household member uses the internet). DSL is faster than dial-up but still not the best form of internet.
Cable – Cable internet uses the same cables that your cable TV provider does. Though they can be similar to DSL speeds, they can also be much higher and therefore even better.
Satellite – Satellite internet technology transmits data to and from a dish in the sky and a dish attached to your home. A wireless form of internet, satellite is available pretty much anywhere, making it great for rural customers. However, the latency can be slow and make it a poor option for those who heavily stream or game.
Fiber – Fiber is the newest and best addition to the line of internet forms. By using fiber-optic cables made of thin glass, huge amounts of data can be transmitted very quickly. The downside is that since fiber is expensive to build, it’s not as widely available yet and therefore may not be in your area yet.
What Speeds Do Your Most-Performed Tasks Need?
Figuring out exactly what speeds you need is the tough part of finding an internet service provider who can meet your needs. Read below to find the online activities you engage in the most and see what speeds you’ll probably need to perform them quickly and efficiently.
- For basic emailing, Google searching, and streaming music on 1 device, you’ll need speeds of at least 0-5 Mbps
- For streaming video on 1 device, online gaming, and face-chatting, you’ll need 5-40 Mbps
- For streaming HD video on multiple devices, multiplayer gaming, and downloading files, you’ll need 40-100 Mbps
- For streaming video on multiple screens, downloading large files very quickly, and gaming online with others simultaneously, you’ll need 100-500 Mbps
- And, for doing pretty much anything else, 500-1,000+ Mbps will do just fine