Photo by Anna Shvets
If you’re on the hunt for an internet service provider in your area you’ve probably asked yourself, “what is a good internet speed?” or “how much internet speed do I need?” There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Speed depends on how you and your household use the internet. Are multiple users streaming Netflix from different devices at the same time? Do you spend hours gaming with friends every night? Do you have to download large files for work? Choosing the right speed for your lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ll break down various speeds based on household size and activity level so you can find the right plan to meet your specific needs.
- Internet Speed for Single-Person Households
- Internet Speed for Two-Person Households
- Internet Speed for Families or Multiple Roommates
How Is Internet Speed Measured?
Before we get into what speed best fits your lifestyle, it’s important to know how internet speed is measured. Internet speed — measured in megabits per second (Mbps) — is how fast data and content travel from the World Wide Web to your home devices. High-speed internet, or broadband, has download speeds of 25 Mbps with 3 Mbps upload speed. Download speed is the rate digital data is transferred from the internet to your device, and upload speed is the rate digital data is transferred from your device to the internet. So, what is a good download speed?
For our comparisons we’ll be looking at the minimum download speed (Mbps) recommended by the FCC for light, moderate, and heavy household use based on the number of users and devices. Keep in mind that the more users you have using the internet at the same time, the more speed you’ll want for prime connection and quality.
Internet Speed for Single-Person Households
For a single user who uses the internet for checking emails, web browsing, basic video watching, and streaming music a minimum speed of 3 to 8 Mbps is recommended. This speed is also recommended if you’re doing one of these basic functions along with streaming HD videos, video conferencing, and online gaming. Once you increase usage to one basic function and multiple high-demand functions at the same time, you should look for minimum speeds of 12 to 25 Mbps.
According to Netflix, you’ll need 5 Mbps to stream HD content and 25 Mbps for 4K Ultra HD content, but consider faster speeds if multiple devices will be connected at once. For single gamers, you’ll need a minimum download speed of 3 Mbps. Increase these speeds accordingly based on your household size.
Internet Speed for Two-Person Households
If you have two internet users in your house or if you’re using two devices at a time, you should have a minimum of 3 to 8 Mbps for basic usage (emails, browsing, etc.) and at least 25 Mbps once basic usage is combined with one or more high-demand applications (HD video streaming, online gaming, etc.).
Internet Speed for Families or Multiple Roommates
If you live with roommates or have a family with three or four users at a time, you should have at least 12 to 25 Mbps for basic usage and one high-demand application at the same time. Once you’re combining basic internet functions with multiple high-demand applications, you should have at least 25 Mbps for the best internet performance and minimal roommate arguments.
Minimum Recommended Download Speed
- Light Use: Basic functions like checking email, web browsing, basic video, or streaming music
- Moderate Use: Basic functions plus a high-demand application like HD videos, video conferencing, or online gaming
- Heavy Use: Basic functions plus multiple high-demand applications
Figuring out what internet speed you need for your lifestyle should never be difficult. In general, going with more Mbps is a safe bet but you’ll likely never need more than 200 Mbps unless you have avid 4K video streamers or online multiplayer gamers in your house. To find out what internet providers are available in your area, start your search below!