Internet Speeds: How fast do you need?

Buying an internet connection used to be easier, back in the days of one-size-fits-all internet technology. But, as many will remember, dial-up internet was very slow. Nowadays, your connection will be faster, but you are faced with a number of decisions before connecting. The speed of your connection plays an important role in what you choose, and how much it costs.

In this guide, we’ll consider the different speed options available, and more importantly, which speeds are better for the different types of homes we live in.

The essential info

Before diving into the specifics of each technology, it is important to understand Megabits Per Second (Mbps). The speeds of all internet plans are measured in Mbps, and it relates to the speed that you can both upload and download data from the internet.

This is referred to as bandwidth, and while we think about this in terms of how fast a connection is, it is also the way we describe the capacity of a connection. Multiple users on the same network share the bandwidth. So, for example, if you have a 100Mbps connection then several people can all be using it at the same time up to a the maximum capacity. You can have multiple Netflix movies streaming at the same time and not notice the difference.

It’s also important to note that while we’ll be referring to the advertised maximum speeds of the different connection, real-world obstacles will often mean that the actual speed in the home may be slower.

Internet Speeds

When signing up for an internet plan you may have a choice of speeds between basic 3Mbps plans up to super-fast 1Gbps download speeds.

Wireless Internet speeds

Seen by many as an alternative to the fixed-line connections, wireless internet uses the same wireless frequencies as smartphones. But rather than using a phone, you connect using small, battery-powered modems.