The consumer’s guide to internet speed

words Alexa Wang

No matter which provider you sign up for, the internet is all about speed. Everyone likes completing his or her day-to-day tasks on the internet without any connection issue. Every household has different internet requirements. Some use the internet for basic browsing such as checking emails, scrolling through social media feeds, and paying bills online. Others like to download movies, stream all those binge-worthy shows online, and play all those first person-shooting games.

However, with all the talk surrounding Mbps, Gbps, broadband, and fiber, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. That is the reason why we came up with a comprehensive guide for internet users about internet speed.

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What is Internet Speed and why does it matter?

In simple words, internet speed refers to the amount of data transferred over the web on a single connection. This is an important factor for consumers looking to set up a new service. It determines what kind of activities you can do on the internet and how fast can you do them.

For example, if your internet speed is slow, your videos will take ages to load and you will be 2-3 seconds behind everyone else in a co-op game.

You will find dozen of providers advertising super-fast download and upload speeds. Some of them might lure you into signing up for their services. However, there are many things to consider and the advertised speeds mostly are not accurate.

Download Speed: it refers to the megabits of data you can get from the server in one second. The data can be in any shape such as images, files, music, and text. The everyday activities like streaming your favorite shows in high definition and listening to music on Spotify requires you to download large data.

Upload Speed: It refers to how fast you can send information and data to others. For an average household, all the activities require much more downloading instead of uploading, therefore, the upload speeds are always less than the download. Activities like sending files over the internet and video calls require fast upload speeds.

Bear in mind, the internet service providers like Spectrum, Cox, etc always use the word “up to” when they advertise download and upload speeds. If you are new to this, you might end up calling Spectrum internet customer service for not getting fairly consistent speeds. However, you do not need to. The internet speeds vary from time to time due to many factors such as latency and type of connection. For a more accurate understanding of internet speed, it is important to consider metrics beyond the advertised speeds. One such metric is the P95 speed. If you’re wondering what does P95 mean, it represents the speed at which 95% of users typically experience their internet connection. This metric is used to provide a more realistic measure of internet speed by considering the majority of data points while excluding outliers that may not be representative of typical performance.

internet speed guide

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth and Internet Speed are two entirely different aspects of the internet yet often used interchangeably. As we have already discussed, the internet speed refers to how fast the information is transferred while bandwidth refers to the individual capacity of an internet connection.

Many factors can stop your internet speed to reach the full bandwidth. For example, there are multiple users in your home. If all of them are streaming high-definition movies on Netflix simultaneously, your internet connection will not be allocated the bandwidth and everyone will face unbearable buffering. A bandwidth monitoring tool can assist you in tracking consumption among users and apps, boosting speed, preventing overload, and so on.

Types of Internet Connection and their effect on Internet Speed

The internet comes to you in five basic types: Fiber, Cable, DSL, and satellite.

Fiber: It is the fastest available internet technology. With fiber optics, the information travels a lot faster. The only problem with fiber internet is its availability. Since it is a new technology, there is a high infrastructure cost associated.

Cable: It uses the existing coaxial cables used to transmit Cable TV services to connect you with the internet. It can get you speeds up to one gigabit. It is widely available and offers more reliability as compared to satellite and DSL.

DSL: Digital Subscriber Line or DSL uses a connection similar to the phone line but the wiring is different inside. This makes it faster than the outdated dial-up connections. The former or current telephone companies also provide internet service through this technology.

Satellite: In geographically remote areas where cable or fiber cannot reach, Satellite is an option. The internet is delivered wirelessly, therefore, it is available almost everywhere in the United States.

How much internet speed do you need?

It varies from household to household. For a single person who just checks social media will not require much download speed but if you have a family of five downloading games, basic browsing, and streaming Netflix in every room will require a lot of speed. The internet speed is measured in megabits per second. For average usage, download speeds up to 25 Mbps is more than enough for a single person. If you have heavy usage that involves high-definition streaming, you must have at least 100 Mbps or more.


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