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what is good internet speed?
A good download speed is at least 25 Mbps, and a good upload speed is at least 3 Mbps. Some people can get away with fewer Mbps and others need more—but that’s a good Internet speed for most people.
Internet speeds are usually given in terms of download speed—for example, a plan with our recommended 25 Mbps of download speed and 3 Mbps of upload speed would simply be called a 25 Mbps internet speed. We’ll be following this trend, but it is important to pay attention to internet upload speeds as well.
With 25 Mbps, you can stream Netflix or Youtube, attend Zoom meetings, and play most online games on one or two devices.
If that doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, use the tool above to get a personalized recommendation or calculate the internet speed you need using the steps below.
To start things off, here’s a breakdown of common download speed ranges in Mbps and what they’re good for.
|Internet speed||Works for|
|0–5 Mbps||-Checking email
-Streaming music on one device
-Searching on Google
|5–40 Mbps||-Streaming video on one device
-Video calling with Skype or FaceTime
-Online gaming for one player
|40–100 Mbps||-Streaming HD video on a few devices
-Multiplayer online gaming
-Downloading large files
|100–500 Mbps||-Streaming video in UHD on multiple screens
-Downloading files quickly
-Gaming online for multiple players
|500–1,000+ Mbps||-Doing a lot of almost anything on numerous devices simultaneously|
How internet speed is measured?
Internet speed is determined by how much data the connection can download (download speeds) or upload (upload speeds) per second.
In both cases, the speed is shown as bits per second (bps). Since an internet connection transfers thousands of bits per second, we use the prefixes Kilo (k), Mega (M) and Giga (G) to show how many thousands of bits we’re talking about. If you’re familiar with the metric system, you know “k” = 1,000, “M” = 1,000k (1,000,000) and “G” = 1,000M (1,000,000,000).
When researching internet speeds, you’ll likely see Mbps more than kbps or Gbps. That’s because Mbps speeds are better suited to what we use the internet for.
When are download speeds important?
For most households, having fast download speeds is most important. That’s what we use for common activities such as streaming TV, downloading music and browsing social media.
When are upload speeds important?
Upload speeds come into play with things like video conferencing and uploading large files to a server or cloud. Read our guide on download vs. upload internet speeds for more information.
The FCC says the best ISPs for two or more connected devices and moderate to heavy internet use should offer at least 12 megabits per second (Mbps) of download speed. For four or more devices, 25 Mbps is recommended.
For two or more users who regularly stream high definition or 4K video, use videoconferencing, participate in online gaming, or work from home, a good internet speed of 12 to 25 Mbps makes the most sense. Homes with four or more people using four or more connected devices will certainly want download speeds of 25 Mbps or more. That said, most experts recommend even higher speeds – at least 100 Mbps – for households with heavy internet use.
Most ISPs deliver their promised broadband speed, says the FCC in its tenth Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report, released in January 2021. The report evaluates 12 different ISPs along with the different technology configurations such as fiber, cable, DSL, satellite. The report states that out of these providers, only one performed below 90% for actual-to-advertised download speed.
Many plans on our Best Internet Providers of 2022 list offer incremental increases in cost for exponentially more speed. Xfinity, for example, has a 200 Mbps plan starting at $39.99 per month. For only $20 more per month, you could have 400 Mbps of download and upload speeds. That’s more than enough for the vast majority of families.
Recommended internet speeds for casual surfing
If you’re a casual internet user and won’t need to compete with other users in the home, your needs are going to be less involved than, say, a family with very busy children online. But what do we mean when we talk about basic internet usage?
It means you’re using the internet for common day-to-day activities, like checking your email, web browsing or logging onto social media. You might occasionally stream media, listen to your favorite music and podcasts, or watch a standard-definition movie.
In this modern age, all of these activities are fairly commonplace, making the internet a basic need for most people. Even the most basic internet package is useful in most households, though. For casual surfing, you’ll probably only need 5 to 10 Mbps. Frontier offers a Basic Internet Plan that offers up to 9 Mbps that can be ideal for your casual usage.
What internet speeds do I need for Netflix, Skype and gaming?
The other way of looking at whether you have good upload and download speeds is whether they are good enough to do various tasks. Let’s take a look at the recommended speed you need for things like streaming video and online gaming without buffering or lag. You can compare these with the results of your speed test.
Internet speed for Netflix
- 0.5Mbps – Required speed
- 1.5Mbps – Recommended speed
- 3.0Mbps – SD quality
- 5.0Mbps – HD quality
- 25Mbps – Ultra HD 4K quality
Internet speed for Zoom (download/upload)
- 0.6Mbps – High-quality 480-pixel Video calling
- 1.2Mbps – 780-pixel video calling
- 50-75kbps (0.05Mbps) – Screen sharing
- 1.5Mbps – Group video calling (up to 3 people)
Internet speed for YouTube
- 2.5Mbps – Recommended for non HD
- 4Mbps – Recommended for HD
- 15Mbps – Full HD
Internet speed for online gaming
What you’re looking for when it comes to gaming is a low ping. Generally, you want the ping to be lower than 100ms but ideally under 50ms if possible.
What Is the Difference Between Upload and Download Speed?
If you don’t know the difference between upload and download speeds, here is a simple breakdown:
- Download speed: how quickly your internet connection can retrieve data from the internet (web pages, video, cat photos, etc.)
- Upload speed: how quickly your internet connection can send data from your devices up to the internet (uploading video to YouTube, sending documents via email, etc.)
When you see the advertised speed of an internet plan, what you usually see is the download speed. The upload speed isn’t visible at first, or it appears in a much smaller size at the bottom.
Download speed is much more important for the average user since you only notice upload speed when trying to share large files. It’s normal for your upload speed to be around one tenth your download speed. However, fiber internet users often have symmetrical (or identical) download and upload speeds.
What can you do with different internet speeds?
Number of people
|5–25 Mbps||1–2||Casual web browsing, emails, social media, streaming SD video, streaming music|
|25–50 Mbps||1–3||Streaming HD and 4K video, streaming music, gaming, light work from home|
|50–100 Mbps||2–4||Streaming 4K video, gaming, working from home, using home security devices|
|100–500 Mbps||2–5||Streaming 4K video, gaming, running a home office, using home security and smart home devices|
|500–1,000 Mbps||3–5+||Running a home office or creative profession, streaming in 4K, gaming, using home security and smart home devices|
How is internet speed measured?
The most common measurement of internet speed is in terms of megabits per second, often referred to as Mbps. This measures how quickly files are transferred, whether downloading or uploading them, or how fast a website loads while you’re surfing the internet.
You might occasionally find internet packages with faster speeds measured by gigabit per second. One Gbps is the equivalent of 1,000 megabits per second.
Before wireless internet became widespread, dial-up internet was measured by kilobits per second. One Kbps is 1,000 bits, and it takes 1,000 kilobits to make a megabit. Today, most ISPs offer wireless internet with connection speeds measured in Mbps.
For the most basic internet usage at home — meaning you sometimes browse the web, scroll through social media, or stream music or movies — a minimum speed of about 10 Mbps should do the trick. But if you have multiple people in your home using the internet at the same time, you might consider a plan with a higher Mbps download speed. You might also consider a higher internet speed if you work with larger, higher-quality files regularly. Basically, it comes down to your unique internet needs.
What Factors Impact Internet Speed?
There are many factors that can affect the speed of your Internet connection. This can make it difficult to pinpoint where the problem lies if you are not getting the speed you expect. Some of the reasons you might be experiencing slow Internet speeds are:
- Wired versus WiFi connections – Wired connections are generally faster and are subject to less interference than wireless connections.
- Hardware – Your computer and modem can both contribute to degraded Internet speed. The performance of your modem can degrade over time and the speed of your computer’s internal components can also slow you down.
- Operating system – A misconfigured OS can lead to slower Internet speed than expected.
- Congestion – Excessive usage on your network will slow down speeds for all users. In addition, the websites and servers you are accessing may be experiencing high usage rates which limit their ability to meet download demands.
- Software – A misconfigured web browser is a common cause of bottlenecks and slow throughput. Infection by malware can also have a negative impact on the speed of your Internet connection.
How do I test my internet speed?
You can use our free broadband speed test to check the average speed you’re getting from your provider.
It works by sending data to and from the main server and timing how quickly the data completes the round-trip, which is measured in milliseconds. The test is then run several times to establish a precise result.
It’s useful to regularly test the speed of your broadband so you can ensure you’re getting what you pay for. Luckily, it’s quick and easy to do with our broadband speed test – simply enter your postcode and email address to get the results sent to you.