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Frequently asked questions on internet speeds — What speed do you need?

Joe Supan

Feb 27, 2021 — 9 min read

Whether you're gaming, streaming, schooling or working from home, learn all you need to know to make sure you have an effective internet plan.

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If you’re a gamer, Netflix binger or someone who works from home, you know that your Wi-Fi speed matters. You may be wondering: how much internet speed do I need for online gaming? What internet speed do I need for Netflix? What is a good internet speed for working from home?

Learn about the fastest available home internet speeds, and check out suggestions for the best speeds for online gaming, streaming, using multiple devices and other common activities.

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General home internet speed recommendations

How much speed do I need?

Good home internet speeds depend on what you use the internet for at home. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends internet speeds of 12-25 Mbps for families with multiple internet users or for frequent online streaming.

What is a fast internet speed?

The FCC has defined broadband, or fast internet, as internet with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps since 2015.  Download speeds of at least 25 Mbps accommodate many families’ needs, but the best download speeds and upload speeds for you depend on how you use the internet at home. More than 90% of Allconnect readers who took our internet speed quiz stream TV daily, and more than 25% stream Ultra HD daily, which means fast internet speeds to them are closer to 100 Mbps.

What is the fastest home internet speed?

The current fastest home internet speed is 2,000 Mbps, or 2 Gbps, and is offered by Xfinity in select areas.

How do you figure out your current internet speed?

You can measure your current internet speed by taking a speed test on a computer that’s connected to your home Wi-Fi. Many internet speed tests also tell you your ping time and differentiate your connection’s upload and download speeds.

Your speed test results:

Download Speeds

888 Mbps

Upload Speeds

88 Mbps

Need more for the price?

Try these helpful hacks to improve your internet speed. Or if you just want more bang for your buck, check out providers near you with more speed for the price. Either way, we’ll help you find what you need.

View providers near me Rather chat? Give us a call: (844) 451-2720
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Pro Tip: For best results, use an Ethernet cord to connect your router or modem directly to your device before you run the test.

Recommended internet speeds for streaming

How much internet speed do I need for streaming?

In general, to stream most videos in standard definition, you’ll need internet speeds of at least 3 Mbps. You need at least 25 Mbps for 4K streaming video on your computer or Ultra HD enabled devices. Some streaming services suggest faster speeds, such as Fubo TV, which suggests minimum speeds of 40 Mbps.

For Netflix, on the other hand, the minimum internet speed recommended for streaming is 3 Mbps, but recommended speeds vary by the quality you want to view.

In contrast, for the best video quality, Hulu recommends 3 Mbps for on-demand viewing and 8 Mbps for Live TV viewing.

For streaming live TV with AT&T TV, you’ll want a minimum internet speed of 2.5 Mbps, however, you may want to consider higher speeds based on your device. According to AT&T TV:

  • To stream videos at home in HD, 8.0 Mbps is recommended per device
  • To stream on a mobile device using data, 150 Kbps to 2.5 Mbps are recommended for standard-definition streaming, and 2.5 to 7.5 Mbps are best for high-definition

YouTube TV recommends a minimum internet speed of 3 Mbps, but advises that how much speed you need may vary by video quality.

  • To stream videos in standard definition, at least 3 Mbps is recommended.
  • To stream video on one device in HD, at least 7 Mbp is recommended.
  • To stream video in HD on multiple devices, at least 13 Mbps is recommended.

Recommended internet speeds for gaming

You need minimum speeds of 4-8 Mbps to game online, but for a consistently good gaming experience, 10-25 Mbps tend to be best. As you search for the best internet for gaming, keep in mind that download speed isn’t the only factor in a good gaming experience.

Speed is important because it’s how quickly your device transfers information from the gaming server. However, ping time and latency also matter.

What’s a good ping time for online gaming?

Ping time is more important for gaming than internet download speeds. A ping time of 20 milliseconds or less is great while 20-100 milliseconds will give you a good gaming experience.

Ping time can improve based on your download and upload speeds. However, factors such as your local area connection and internet latency affect your ping time more than internet speeds.

What’s the best internet for online gaming?

The best internet for gaming is usually cable internet or fiber optic internet since they both provide low-latency internet connections, which means lower ping time.

Satellite internet tends to have high latency, even with fast download speeds, because the internet signal must travel so far between its source (a satellite) and its end destination (your device).

What’s the best internet for gaming in rural areas?

When available, fixed wireless internet is a better option for gaming than satellite in rural areas.

Fixed wireless internet has lower latency than satellite because fixed wireless internet signals don’t travel through the atmosphere. Instead, they travel from a local tower directly to your home antenna. Fixed wireless internet also offers speeds comparable to cable and DSL internet.

Can you use satellite internet for gaming?

It depends on the type of game you’re playing. Satellite internet does not work well with sports games or shooter games because they require rapid data response times. Other online games such as online card games, role-playing games, strategy games or puzzle games tend to work fine with satellite internet.

Do online games block satellite internet users?

Since many people around the world play sports and shooter games simultaneously, these types of games may block satellite internet users from playing. They block satellite users to prevent people from using lag to their advantage and compromising the gaming experience for other players.

How do you make your internet faster for online gaming?

To make your internet faster at home, you could boost your Wi-Fi signal to lower your latency. Resetting or moving your router can boost and stabilize your signal. You could also add a Wi-Fi repeater or extender to improve internet signals for gaming devices further away from your router.

You can also shop for a different high-speed internet service with faster speeds and a potentially more reliable connection.

Recommended internet speeds for working from home

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, working (and learning) from home has become an everyday reality for much of the world. And it probably isn’t going away anytime soon. 

According to a survey conducted by 451 Research — a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence — 67% of companies expect work-from-home policies to continue in the long-term. Major companies like Facebook, Twitter and Slack have all announced plans to let a portion of their employees continue to work from home permanently. With so much more work taking place inside the home, a fast and reliable internet connection — plus a setup that takes advantage of it — is more essential than ever. 

If you can stream Netflix, you can use Zoom successfully.

The good news is that you probably don’t need to upgrade your internet connection to start working from home. Most work activities have relatively low bandwidth requirements.

What internet speed do I need to work from home?

The best internet speed for working from home depends on what kind of work you do. If you frequently download and upload large files and participate in video meetings, we recommend at least 25 Mbps of download speeds for households with only one person working from home at a time. Here’s how much internet speed some of the most common work apps require: 

A word of caution: These numbers look incredibly low compared to the 40 Mbps we recommend for working from home, but apps generally underestimate how much speed you’ll need to use their products smoothly. 

As researchers at San Francisco State University found, “speeds below 5 Mbps are not adequate for two-way interaction” on Zoom. For glitch-free video meetings, they recommend at least 20 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. And if there are other devices connected to your Wi-Fi while you’re on a Zoom meeting, you’ll need even more.

If you’re not sure how much speed you need — or even how much you’re currently getting — you can use our speed test and quiz above to gauge your situation.

How can I boost my internet speed to work from home?

There are a number of steps you can take to help get your internet speed up to a comfortable level for working from home. Here’s how to get the most out of your connection: 

  1. Update your router’s security settings: Wi-Fi leeches are unfortunately a common issue slowing down home internet speeds, especially if you live in close proximity to your neighbors. We recommend protecting access to your router with a complex password and WPA2 security. 
  2. Optimize your router: You can try things like turning off your router’s entertainment settings, resetting the Request to Send (RTS) thresholds and changing the router’s fragmentation and RTS threshold settings. 
  3. Use a new Wi-Fi channel: Switching your router from a standard 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel to a 5 GHz channel can help reduce interference and provide a boost to your internet speeds. 
  4. Move your router: One of the least technical but most effective troubleshooting steps you’ll find, simply moving your router to a more elevated, clearer spot can have a dramatic impact on speed.
  5. Use a wired connection: If you can set up your home office next to your modem, running an Ethernet cable straight to your computer can greatly improve your connection speed and stability. 
  6. Reset your router: When in doubt, simply unplug your router and plug it back in. Believe it or not, a hard reset can sometimes fix issues that have been slowing down your connection. 

If none of these steps increase your speeds enough, you might have to start spending money to see improved results. Mesh networks use several small routers to spread your Wi-Fi connection throughout the home, and are particularly useful in bigger houses. Similarly, Wi-Fi extenders cost anywhere from $20 to $200, and extends your internet to rooms that are blocked due to walls, furniture or spacing issues. Finally, if you’ve had the same Wi-Fi router for a while, we recommend replacing it every four years to make sure you’re getting the most out of your internet connection. 

Learn more about boosting your Wi-Fi signal

Prioritize your work connection

If there are other people in the house using the internet during work hours, it can be helpful to keep that traffic separate. As we mentioned above, most routers come with both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, which can be split into two different networks. In general, the 5 GHz band provides faster speeds, while the 2.4 GHz band has better range. Dedicating one of those bands to work activities and one to everything else can help send your bandwidth where it’s needed the most.

Most routers also have the ability to create a guest network, often with max speed settings that can make sure your bandwidth isn’t being capped out while you’re working. Some routers even have Quality of Service settings, which let you prioritize traffic to specific devices. If working from home looks like it will be a permanent part of your future, it might be worth investing in a new router with these features. 

Don’t forget to secure your home network

It’s one thing for your personal Instagram account to be hacked. But leaking your employer’s sensitive data due to an unsecure network? That’s a much more serious problem for you and your company. Taking steps like encrypting your Wi-Fi signal, updating your router’s firmware and using a VPN (virtual private network) are essential to keeping your work life secure.

Learn more about securing your internet connection

Internet speed FAQs

What is ping?

A ping is a test that figures out if a server is reachable. The ping is done by sending a data packet to the server to see if the data comes back. If so, the server is reachable.

Ping time is the responsiveness of your connection, or how fast that data packet travels to the server and back. Ping time is measured in milliseconds. If your connection doesn’t register the data request for a couple of seconds, you may still see a lag in your game, file upload, online submission or other activity.

Latency is how fast data transfers between a source and its destination — basically a delay of information communication. For instance, if you’re in the U.S. playing a game with a server in China, you will have a higher latency than someone playing the same game in China.

Mbps is how internet speeds are gauged and it means “megabits per second.” It measures the bandwidth of an internet connection — how much data can be transferred each second.

Download speed is how fast your internet connection can transfer data from a server to you. Download speeds are important for downloading files, loading a website, streaming a video or streaming music. Upload speed is how fast your internet connection can transfer your data to a server. Upload speeds are important for sending emails, sending files to other people, live video chats and gaming.

No matter what you use the internet for at home, we recommend getting slightly faster speeds than Netflix, Skype, online shopping or any other activity requires. Internet speeds often perform slower at home than advertised. Having multiple devices at home will eat up bandwidth, and a variety of technical factors can also slow down your connection.

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Joe Supan

Written by:

Joe Supan

Senior Writer, Broadband Content

Joe oversees all things broadband for Allconnect. His work has been referenced by Yahoo!, Lifehacker and more. He has utilized thousands of data points to build a library of metrics to help users navigate these … Read more

Shannon Ullman

Edited by:

Shannon Ullman

Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content

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