What Internet Speed Do I Need?

By EarthLink Staff March 10, 2020

Summary: In our fast-paced world, internet capability is simply not enough. Now, high-speed internet service is a must-have. Picking internet speeds that fit your lifestyle has never been more important. But how do you decide what speed you really need? Here’s a quick breakdown to help you choose.

How Do You Use the Internet?

The first and most important step in choosing the right internet speed is figuring out your purpose. Pretty easy, right?

As a rule of thumb, the more people there are in a household, the more speed you’ll need. But it also depends on what type of activities you’re using the web for. Checking email, scrolling through social media feeds, and online shopping don’t require a lot of data or speed. Other activities, like streaming movies, gaming, and online fitness classes require more data, so you’ll need higher speeds to experience those without lag.

Of course, residential and business internet needs are certainly different.

Business internet typically requires three to four times the speed of residential internet to support a full office.

The service plan options for home and business vary just as widely, with business internet service typically priced higher than residential. While we’ll focus on residential internet in this article, we can also help you decide on the best fit for high-speed business internet.

group of business employees looking and computer with internet what internet speed do you need

How Much Speed Is Just Right?

Now that you know what you need your internet speeds to support, it will be easier to find the speed that’s right for you.

Most companies like Netflix or Hulu suggest speeds of at least 25 Mbps for streaming — but that’s only if you’re streaming in standard definition on a single device at a time. If you primarily use the internet to browse or check social media, you may need less.

Of course, if you are looking for more out of your internet, like playing competitive games online, high-definition streaming, and large file downloading — especially simultaneously — you begin to reach the triple digits in required speeds. If you have multiple household members working or schooling from home, you’ll also want 100 Mbps or more to ensure you’re not causing your own internet to slow down.

Sound like your household? In that case, fiber internet is the way to go. Not only do you get the fastest speeds, but you also have the most reliable internet service. Fiber internet won’t go down in a power outage and has a dedicated connection — meaning peak internet traffic hours won’t affect you.

It’s also important to remember that if you’re participating in high data-consuming activities — like those listed above — you want an internet service provider with no internet data caps. That way, you’re never restricted from streaming or gaming.

The bottom line is that you know your internet needs best. Now that you’ve used these tips, you’re ready to find the right high-speed internet plan for your household. Make sure you have the speed you need, and it will make all the difference.

EarthLink Staff

EarthLink is a top U.S. internet service provider offering access to fast, secure, and reliable internet to more homes and small businesses than any other ISP. Our team of technology and internet experts shares essential tips, tricks, and insights to help inform consumers about how to have a better online or mobile experience.

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