What kind of speed do I really need? Find the right internet for you

Nov 7, 2017

Ever feel like your internet isn’t keeping pace with the speed of your life? With nearly everything moving online these days, more and more folks are finding that their current internet speed just isn’t enough. And right after they realize this, the question then quickly becomes, “well, then how fast should my internet be?” Let’s answer that confusing question once and for all.

What kind of internet user are you?

If you’ve got a lot to do online, then the last thing you need is a connection that can’t handle the demand of all your clicks. But, on the flipside, you don’t want to be shelling out hundreds of dollars a month either for home utilities you rarely use. So, let’s breakdown your regular online activities to figure out the kind of internet user that you really are and what internet speed is best for you.

  • Light internet user
    • Common Activities: email, web surfing, standard-definition video, remote surveillance, music streaming, file sharing
    • Recommended Speed: 5-10 Mbps

If you don’t use the internet all that often, maybe just a few times a week for light online activities, then there’s little logic in paying for higher speeds. And if that’s the case, then these cost-effective starter packages should suit your household’s internet needs well. Besides, should you ever start feeling like your slower internet speed is holding you back as you increase your online activity, then you can always upgrade to a faster connection at a later date.

  • Moderate internet user
    • Common Activities: light user activities PLUS ONE high-demand application like streaming HD video, video conferencing, OR online gaming
    • Recommended Speed: 10-25 Mbps

If you find yourself on the internet each day of the week – scrolling through your Facebook feed a few times a day, checking emails often, watching YouTube videos regularly, and maybe even streaming some high-definition TV services – then you’ll likely want more power behind your network. Because without the internet speed to back up your activities, they’ll soon become cumbersome and anything but fun. This speed tier is the most common one that people choose, and we’d recommend that entertainment enthusiasts get this level of speed as a minimum.

  • Heavy internet user
    • Common Activities: light user activities PLUS TWO or more high-demand applications – streaming HD, video conferencing, OR online gaming – running at the same time
    • Recommended Speed: 25-50+ Mbps (and up to 100Mbps for extreme users)

If you find that you’re almost always plugged into the connected world of the internet, then you’ll want the most power possible to back the full-fledged web at your fingertips.

For frequent internet users out there who want to use the internet to its fullest potential – spending hours watching videos on YouTube, downloading films and music regularly, streaming hours’ worth of HDTV shows, and playing online games for days on end – you’ll want to pay up for the internet speed needed to keep up with it all. You might even want to consider a plan that offers no download limits (also known as data caps).

Of course, there are speeds both slower than 5Mbps and faster than 100Mbps, but there are fewer customers currently seeking such services. So, simply pay attention to your current usage patterns to figure out which type of internet speed would make the most sense for your home. And once you have a better idea of your internet needs, you can better compare internet providers and plans to get the best deal for your home.

What will affect my internet speed?

To put it simply, the more speed and bandwidth you have, the more you can do online at the same time. But, there are other factors at play here as well. So, let’s get to know them below.

Your home’s technology

If you have older internet modems and routers, then they can’t keep up with the information coming in, no matter how fast it may be. So, check with your internet Service Provider (ISP) to learn if your internet-producing devices need to be upgraded.

Also, the type of technology you use to connect to the web (cable, DSL, etc.) can affect your top speed at certain times. For example, unlike cable internet, DSL doesn’t get overloaded and spotty when plenty of people are on the network and using it at the same time.

Thus, the performance of your DSL internet connection will never be affected. On the other hand, unlike DSL, the performance of the cable connection isn’t based on its distance from the ISP’s central location. So, as long as you’re hooked into the network, you can expect consistent cable internet service.

Data caps

This is a limit on the actual amount of information you can download. Once you hit this limit (usually a monthly one), the provider will either charge an extra fee or severely reduce your bandwidth. If you foresee this being a problem for your internet usage habits, be sure to search for an internet plan that has no data cap.

Rush hour traffic

The heaviest hours of internet usage occur between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. And just like miles of deadlocked traffic on the highway, this happens when our collective demand for resources outweighs the system’s capacity. So, you’ll get the best internet speeds possible if you can avoid getting online to do data-heavy activities at these times.

The website’s server capacity

If a website has thousands of visitors all trying to get onto one page, then connection problems will often occur due to the company’s servers struggling under the pressure. It’s like a single bottleneck in car traffic caused by everyone wanting to get off the interstate at the same exit at the same time.

Weather conditions

If there’s a storm outside, then that in and of itself can disrupt satellite internet service. Moreover, if that storm swings a tree into a service cable, then that can slow or completely sever your connection entirely. Should this happen, contact your ISP to let them know so they can repair it ASAP.

General geography

Some folks may not realize this, but available internet speeds vary by state. For example, Virginia takes the number one spot with an average internet speed of 13.7 Mbps. Unsurprisingly, Alaska comes in dead last with 7.0 Mbps. Click here to see the average internet speed for your state to know your realistic range.

The number of devices on your personal network

If you’re old school and just get online through a single computer in your home, then your internet connection has far fewer demands to deal with. But if you’re tapping into the internet from multiple smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, and smart TVs all at the same time, then they’ll most definitely weigh down your surfing speed.

One final and important thing to note: internet speeds can vary quite a bit, and those speeds you see advertised are for optimal, best-case scenarios. To test the speed of your internet connection (to make sure you’re getting all that you’re paying for), click here.

And if you’re unhappy with the results of your speed test, and find it to be too slow, then we can help you get all the internet speed you really need, for a deal that’s right for your wallet.