It seems like every other day an internet provider is trying to sell an upgrade package so that a user can have the “fastest internet.” Some providers are even offering speeds of 2GBs! But how much “speed” does a person or household really require? There are a few factors that come into play because of how internet speed works. Video streaming, gaming, working from home, and the amount of people that are using a network are the heavy-hitters in terms of network bandwidth usage. In attempting to determine the amount of speed necessary to run your home network, the first step is to understand how network bandwidth works.
Network Bandwidth & Internet Speed:
Internet speed can be explained using the analogy of a highway; people who have more internet speed simply have more lanes on their highway. Consider this example: If you have a 5 mb/s download speed coming into your home, you can only use 5 megabytes per second. So if you’re watching a Netflix video (typically uses 5 mb/s if HD) while someone else is surfing the internet, you’ll notice some latency or network traffic. This is because Netflix is eating up one lane on your highway. The other person will have to wait until the lane is open again. In the meantime, both users will experience latency (Netflix would downgrade to a non-HD video, while the web-surfer will notice their websites load much slower).
How to Calculate Your Required Speed:
The general rule of thumb is to anticipate “peak time” performance; in other words, the time of day when people are using your network the most. Also, you’ll want to count how many people you have in your house actively engaging the network at one time so that you can multiply the numbers.
Video streaming (Netflix/YouTube/Hulu etc.) is as follows:
Large File Downloading: 25mb/s and higher. (Dropbox / Google Drive / One Drive)
Video Gaming: 4-8 mb/s (unless downloading the game for the first time or update for it)
Video conferencing: 1-4mb/s
Music Streaming: High-quality streams at ½ mb/s or 500Kb/s
General Web surfing: 1mb/s
Here is a helpful tool to assist you in calculating how much speed you really need: