Every home needs the internet — it may not be as important as electricity or water, but if you’ve ever lost a connection for a while, you quickly realize how much you depend on the internet.
You also don’t want to pay too much. Internet plans range from $25 to $100 per month. You
wouldn’t pay for electricity you don’t use. Then again, if you were to pay for a certain amount of
water, you wouldn’t want to run out before the next billing cycle. The same is true for the
You want to pay just for the internet speed you need and many people are just jumping into “I
want the fastest I can get” which may be a mistake. You could be wasting money on speeds you
It isn’t that easy to figure out how fast your internet needs to be because there are a lot of
● How many devices connect to the internet/WiFi at the same time?
● What are those devices doing? Streaming 4K video, browsing the web, streaming
● How many smart home devices do you have?
● How many people work from home?
● How many Zoom or video conference calls are being made at any given time?
● Are children going to school online?
● Is anyone uploading or downloading files?
● Are you or your kids playing games on the internet?
Answers to those questions go a long way into figuring out if 100 megabytes per second is
enough or if you need lots more.
A megabyte per second is simply how much bandwidth is going from your internet provider to
your router and devices. Think of it like a highway. The smaller number of megabytes the less
traffic on the highway. The internet “pipe” can transfer a limited number of megabytes at the
same time. The more devices and megabytes being used at the same time, the larger that
internet “pipe” needs to be.
Here’s something many people either don’t consider or don’t know: You’re not paying for a total
internet bandwidth for the month. It doesn’t matter if someone plays online games every day or
if you watch 4k movies a few times a week. It’s how much bandwidth you need at any given
Remember that visual of a pipe and how much needs to go through at any given time.
Internet speeds are not going to slow down the closer you get to the end of the month or billing
cycle. It slows down when those devices are on the internet at the same time.
So how much do you need? To answer that, we need to look at how much bandwidth certain
According to highspeedinternet.com, here are a few of the most common actions and how much
bandwidth they require:
- Checking email 1Mbps, social media, Web browsing, 3 Mbps
- Streaming SD video, 3-5 Mbps
- Streaming HD video, 5-10 Mbps
- Streaming 4K video, 25-35 Mbps
- Online Gaming, 3-25 Mbps
That’s quite a range. It’s important to note that if those devices are in use at the same time, each
action is multiplied.
For example, in a household with four people, if three are watching a 4K Netflix video on three different TVs or devices, that’s 105 Mbps. If one of those people is also browsing social media on
another device, that’s an additional three Mbps. If someone else is playing a video game online, you need lots more than just 100 Mbps.
If everyone is using their phone or tablet while they’re sitting down to watch something on
Netflix, that is why you may see buffering or the movie stops playing.
Consider all of the smart home devices connected to the internet/WiFi at the same time. Those
devices do not require much bandwidth individually, but they do add up.
Keep in mind your plan is offering speeds up to the megabyte plan. If your internet plan is for
100 Mbps, look carefully and it will say speeds up to 100 Mbps. If you frequently watch 4k
movies on multiple TVs, if you work from home, and if someone plays online video games, you
more than likely need more than 100 Mbps.
Run an independent speed test at www.speedtest.net to see what you are getting. Just make
sure you run that test using your home WiFi and not your mobile plan. If you aren’t getting at
least close to what you’re paying for, contact your internet provider.