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

BY Nicole George | Fri Mar 22, 2019
Frequently asked questions on internet speeds — what speed do you need?

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 an online 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.

What internet speed do you need

Best 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 instance, the minimum internet speed recommended for streaming Netflix is 3 Mbps, but recommended speeds vary by the quality you want to view.

  • To stream videos in standard definition, at least 3 Mbps is recommended.
  • To stream videos in HD, at least 5 Mbps is recommended.
  • To stream videos in HDR or 4K, at least 25 Mbps is recommended.

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 DIRECTV NOW, 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 DIRECTV NOW:

  • To stream videos in HD on your mobile device, 2.5 to 7.5 Mbps is recommended.
  • To stream on a computer web browser at home, at least 12 Mbps is recommended.

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

Best 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 online 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.

 

Best internet speeds for working from home

What internet speed do I need for working 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, internet speeds of at least 40 Mbps are recommended.

  • Email and basic computer programs: 3-4 Mbps is recommended
  • Skype group video calls: 10+ Mbps is recommended
  • Large file transfers: 40+ Mbps is recommended

 

Internet speed terms

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.

What is ping time?

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.

What is latency?

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.

What is Mbps?

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.

What is the difference between download and upload speeds?

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.

Originally published 07/26/18. Last updated 03/21/19.
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