Am I Paying Too Much?

What speeds do I really need?

When it comes to internet speeds, some of the terms can be confusing. With all the different names for different amounts of data, and their abbreviations, such as megabits (Mb) and megabytes (MB), many people are unsure which speed actually does what, and which they should choose. A standard was chosen to use megabits per second (Mbps) as the common measurement for internet speeds.

So what do you actually need for your household? It depends on your online activities, and how many people are connected to your internet at the same time performing those activities. The most common household activities are gaming, streaming video, messaging, or simply surfing the web. While surfing and messaging require minimal internet speeds, gaming requires higher speeds and streaming video requires even higher.

Netflix recommends 5 Mbps for a single high definition connection. Gaming console creators recommend 3 Mbps for a single gaming connection. Messaging, reading a website, or having phones just connected to the network is just minimal and is not going to noticeably affect your speed at all. So, having 2 devices watching Netflix at once, and a gamer on xbox would require a minimum of 13 Mbps. Add up the devices in your house to find out the combined minimum speed you would need if everything was online at once, if you need that ability. If it's just you and you want to game and watch netflix at the same time, a 15 Mbps line should be plenty. For a family of 6, if everyone was watching different netflix streams at once, a 50 Mbps line should cover you with room to spare.

Don't confuse your ping with your download speed. Your ping is the amount of time it takes for a signal to go from your modem to a given point on the internet and back. Your download speed is how much data is carried per second. Gamers want a low ping because it means faster responses between the keys they press and the actions that result in their online game. Having a higher download speed will not lower your ping or increase your response time, it will only reduce your waiting time if you download a new game.

It's always better to have a little bit of extra download speen in case you plan on having company. But how much is too much? Do you really need a Gigabit line? That's 1000 Mb/s, enough for 200 netflix connections. Or even 100 Mb/s? That's still 20 video streaming connections at once. For the average household that's like filling up your bathtub to get a glass of water. The only need for a huge download speed in the hundreds of Mbps is if you are consistently downloading extremely large files.

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