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What download speed do you actually need?

3 minutes read | August 17, 2016
Illustration of a progress meter

Here at Start, we’re always looking to provide our customers with the best service and the most value. That means advising you on the internet package that’s best suited for your needs. Depending on what you want from your home connection, faster may not always be necessary. So today, we’ll take a look at just how fast of an internet connection you actually need.

Download speeds!

First the Basics

How much you pay for your internet package is dependent primarily on 3 things: your upload speed, download speed and your bandwidth allowance. We’ve already covered how much bandwidth allowance you need, so we’ll just focus on download and upload speeds.

Simply put, download speed means how fast you can load a file from the internet “down” onto your computer (whether that’s an email attachment or a YouTube video, they are all “files”). Upload speed means how fast you can put a file from your computer “up” to the internet. The bigger those numbers are, the faster you can download and upload. Speed is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps) and most packages usually start from somewhere around 10-15 Mbps for download and 1 Mbps for upload.

So why isn’t faster always better?

Depending on what you’re doing, having a faster connection won’t make things faster. Take streaming video services like Netflix or YouTube, for example. If your current connection is already giving you a good, consistent high-quality stream, an upgrade connection won’t make your connection any “smoother” or “faster”.

The same goes for loading a webpage. Bringing up a webpage rarely requires all your download speed. So that means much like streaming, once you have a connection that’s “fast enough”, you won’t notice additional benefits.

Ok, so when do I need faster?

There are lots of reason why you might need a faster connection.

The most common case is when the connection is being shared by multiple people. While your current connection may be fast enough for you to stream Netflix at high-quality alone, if there are 3 other people looking to do the same at the same time, you will start to notice it slow down if your connection is not fast enough.

Imagine a single lane road – it’s plenty for 1 car to drive on, but would become congested with 5 cars on it at the same time.

Another common use case is when you need to download or upload large files frequently. If you have a teenager at home with a gaming console, downloading a new game on a slow connection can take tens of hours where a faster connection would drastically reduce that number. Or if you use web services like Dropbox to share family photos, a faster upload speed would mean being able to share those pictures sooner.

So what do I need?

For a modern home, we would recommend a minimum of at least 10Mbps for your download speed. This should be enough for all common web tasks and light streaming for 1 person or device in a home. If you live in a home with multiple people, or download often, then you should consider a faster connection. We try our best to help you decide by showing you what internet package is best for you and how many people the connection can comfortably support.

And if you still can’t decide, give us a call, or chat online with us –  our friendly service staff are always ready to help you make the right decision.

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