If you’ve ever searched for information on internet speeds and were left confused by numbers and acronyms, you are not alone. We’ve created a quick and easy guide to walk you through understanding what internet speed means and what speed will fulfill your internet needs.

What do internet speeds mean?

Internet speed is defined as the number of bytes per second that data travels from your device to the internet and vice versa. Or, more simply, it’s the rate at which the internet is able to operate. Internet connection speed is commonly measured in Mbps, which stands megabits per second. Internet uploading and downloading speeds are measured in MBps which stands for megabytes per second. Mbps tell you how fast your internet is whereas MBps tell you how quickly you can upload or download files.

If you’re shopping for internet service, you will need to know what minimum speeds will be necessary to accommodate your intended internet usage. Will you be doing general web surfing, checking emails or shopping? Will be you downloading music or videos or doing some minor video streaming? Will you be actively streaming HD videos, playing games and connecting many devices at once?

Now, let’s talk about the types of internet speed you’ll need for different activities.

What is a good internet speed?

“Good” is certainly relative to whoever is defining it and good internet speed is no exception. What one person may consider insufficient speed another person may find to be more than enough for their usage. The bottom line is, the more data you will be using at any given time, the higher the internet speed you will need to achieve those things without interruption. This means the more devices you have connected to the internet at one time the more data you will use. The more you download the more data you will use. If you are doing a lot of gaming or HD video streaming on multiple devices, the more data you will use. All of these things mean you will need higher speeds.

Internet activities and their speed needs

If you plan to use the internet for:

  • Sending and receiving emails
  • Downloading documents, e-books, and other small files
  • General web browsing

You are a basic internet user and will likely be satisfied with speeds of .5 to three Mbps.

If you plan to use the internet for:

  • Downloading audio files
  • Streaming Standard Definition videos
  • Connecting 2-3 devices at a time

You are a medium internet user and will likely need speeds from six to 18 Mbps.

If you plan to use the internet for:

  • Streaming shows or movies
  • Downloading multiple music files
  • Gaming
  • Connecting more than two to three devices at a time

You are a heavy internet user and will need speeds of 25 or greater Mbps.

What are the different connection types?

The type of connection you have to the internet plays a large role in determining your internet speeds. There are many different types of internet connections available today, depending on where you live, including 4G and 5G wireless, broadband, DSL, satellite, fiber, dial-up and more.

On average, fiber-optic connection is faster than broadband, though both of these options are known for higher internet speeds than others. However, depending on your usage, as discussed above, other options may be more than enough for your needs.

It is also important to keep in mind that your internet speeds will vary depending on whether or not you are using a wired (ethernet) connection or a wireless connection. Because a wired connection uses a cable for internet connectivity, the speeds are often faster than when a wireless connection has to be established.

In summary, don’t be sold on purchasing the highest speed internet at the highest price without first assessing your internet usage needs. It is possible you can spend less and get speeds that are more than sufficient for your needs. Without assessing your needs and understanding the speeds needed for your activities, you could end up either paying too much for speeds you don’t need or not getting high enough speeds for your needs. You can do a quick search of internet speeds available in your area and then review internet service providers before making your choice. We hope this guide has helped you to determine your most desireable internet speeds.