How Much Internet Speed do I REALLY need?

These days, there is lots of talk about Internet speed and there is considerable interest in building faster networks. As technology evolves so does our daily usage of Internet and online services. Just think of cloud services, online radio and TV stations, streaming videos and sharing via social media. All these options leads to the need for faster and faster connections, leaving you with a decision to make – how much Internet speed is enough?

 Determining how much Internet speed you need is a straightforward calculation, but it involves many factors.  You’ll need to consider:
1)    Number of Internet users,
2)    The various online activities plus the bandwidth necessary for those activities
3)    How many of users will be using the Internet simultaneously.
Lastly you’ll want to think about all the other devices in your home that connect to the Internet and how they use those connections, such as TV receivers, game consoles, smart appliances and more.

Before we can calculate the exact amount of Internet that you’ll be using, let’s make sure we’re clear on some terminology:

•    Streaming is a type of download that isn’t saved or stored anywhere on your devices – you view or listen as it is continually playing without storing the whole content all at once.  Streaming only uses enough bandwidth to actually watch a video or to listen to music in real time.

•    Downloading is the actual transfer of the data from one place to another. When you download a movie or a song, get email, or search and save from the web, you have a copy of the item on your device.  Downloads typically use more bandwidth over a shorter period of time than streaming, because if your Internet speed allows it, you can download faster than you can watch.

•    Uploading is similar to downloading; but instead of transferring the file to your device, it’s you that is transferring a copy to another device.


How You Use Your Internet bandwidth

The biggest way most of us use bandwidth is streaming or downloading entertainment content like movies and music, but there are other key uses as well.
•    Downloading a 2 hour movie (1 Gig data) with 1 Mbps service would take you about 2 hours. That same 2-hour movie would take half the time to download with an 2 Mbps connection
•    According to Netflix, for streaming a non-HD movie, you need somewhere between 0.5 & 3.0 Mbps. HD quality audio and video will require more bandwidth or speed in order to stream properly between 5.0 Mbps to 25 Mbps. Watching a 720p videos on YouTube requires of 2.1 Mbps up to 4.5 Mbps.
•    Streaming music uses far less Internet as it requires about 2 Mbps for the highest quality audio.
•    Opening e-mail, and using Apps like WhatsApp estimates are about 75 kilo-bits, which is 0.075 megabits, in size. A message with a file attached increases by the size of the file.
•    Bandwidth usage estimates for online gaming are around 150 MB / hour or about 0.04Mbps. The real culprit is the usage for updates to the games and that can exceed 100 MB for each update, or the audio calling services gamers use to talk to one another.
•    For a 2-way video call, Skype recommends 0.3 Mbps as a minimum upload and download speed.
•    Social channels users such as Facebook average about 0.03 Mbps when browsing the site, but requirements increase significantly when streaming videos from 2.1 Mbps up to 4.5 Mbps

Based upon this data, a four person household’s bandwidth utilization might look something like this considering they are all using the internet simultaneously.

Mom
Streaming YouTube Video on Tablet
2.10 Mbps
Social Media
2.10 Mbps
Dad
Streaming a Hi-Def Movie on Smart TV
5.00 Mbps
Sending Email
0.08 Mbps
Teen Child
Streaming Music
2.00 Mbps
Playing online game
0.04 Mbps
Audio call with other players
0.30 Mbps
Middle School Age Child
Social Media
2.10 Mbps
Skype with Friends
0.30 Mbps
WhatsApp
0.07 Mbps

Total
   14.72 Mbps


Remember, this is just one calculation for a hypothetical four-person household. Your own calculation could be very different.  Take also in consideration that in this calculation we choose the lowest bandwidth consumption, so it’s recommended to choose a higher internet plan.