People often overestimate how much Internet they really need. Depending on the size of your household and the online activities that you do, you may realize that you don’t need as much bandwidth as you may think!
An important concept to remember when considering how much speed you need is the difference between upload and download speed. Upload speed refers to how quickly your connection can send data (i.e. uploading photos to Facebook or emailing files). Download refers to how quickly your connection can receive data (i.e. streaming videos or surfing the web). Most Internet plans offer a higher download speed than upload speed. This is because most online activities use more download speed than upload speed.
To give you a better understanding of how much Internet you actually need, here are some basic Internet activities and how much speed they require.
Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or YouTube typically use the most bandwidth. Netflix recommends 3 Mbps of download speed for SD streaming, 5 Mbps for HD streaming and 25 Mbps for 4K streaming per device. However, the speed requirements can vary based on the streaming service and quality of video you are streaming.
Playing a game on an online server can use as little as 100 Kbps (.1 Mbps) of data but most online gaming platforms recommend 1 to 3 Mbps. If you live stream your game using Twitch or a similar service, you are sending or uploading video from your computer to a cloud-based server. Upload speed requirements for these services can range from 400 Kbps (.4 Mbps) for low to standard quality to 6 Mbps for high definition.
Wi-Fi-Based Security Systems & Cameras
Wi-Fi-Based security systems and cameras such as Nest, SimpliSafe, Arlo or Ring, constantly use your Internet speeds and require a good upload and download speed. Ring recommends 1-2 Mbps per device for both upload and download speeds. Depending on the camera and video quality that you select, the Nest camera requires anywhere from 0.15 to 4 Mbps of bandwidth and Arlo cameras use 0.3 – 1.5 Mbps.
Spotify recommends 0.160 to 0.320 Mbps for streaming in high quality. This is a drop in the bucket compared to what you would need for streaming videos. Some streaming services also let you download songs so that you don’t have to use your bandwidth in order to play music on their service.
For video chats, such as Facetime or Skype, you will need 1-4 Mbps. Because you are also uploading data when you video chat, you will also need at least 1 Mbps of upload to ensure that you are sending a quality video.
Smart assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistants can automate a lot of aspects of your home but require a little bit of your bandwidth in order to do so. Amazon suggests an Internet connection with speeds of at least 0.51 Mbps in order to stream content through Alexa.
Some VoIP providers recommend a minimum upload speed of 90 Kbps for each call. If you want to make multiple calls at once, your bandwidth needs will increase. Since VoIP both sends and receives audio, it is suggested that you meet both the recommended upload and download speed.
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