How Fast Is Your Internet?

How fast is your internet connection? Is 10Mbps better than 10MBps? What's the optimal internet speed for your network? Tech Talker takes a closer look at your home internet connection.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #110

Internet Usage

Everyone uses their internet differently. What you plan to do on the web will dictate how much speed you need. The average computer user generally watches some streaming video, and then just uses the internet for Facebook, Skype, email, and general web browsing. The two largest uses of the internet in this scenario would be streaming videos (such as with Hulu or Netflix), and using a streaming video service like Skype.

These programs use up quite a lot of data, especially if you're streaming video in HD.

If this describes your typical usage, you would probably want around 10Mbps. This should allow more than enough bandwidth to stream video without it being choppy.

If you're a really casual internet user and don't do much video streaming, then you could get by with even less. If you just surf the internet and watch a few short streaming videos, then anywhere from 3-5Mbps would be sufficient.

Number of Users

The next thing to consider is how many people will be sharing your internet connection. If you're in a household with a bunch of teenagers, you'll probably want to get a plan that's faster than 10Mbps. I would say 25Mbps is a safe bet. This is due to the fact that there will most likely be smartphones, laptops, and other devices all trying to connect at once.

If everyone is using the internet at the same time, it's pretty safe to say you'll notice some lagging if your speed is under 10Mbps.

Now let's talk about the different tiers of internet service that you can traditionally get from Comcast, AT&T, and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs). For example, in my area of California, these companies offer 100Mbps, 50Mbps, 25Mbps, 10Mbps, and 3Mbps plans, which cost anywhere from $30-$150 a month.

This internet comes over coaxial cable, but there are also options for DSL. I'm fortunate in that I have a choice of plans and providers. However, many areas of the United States only have one option, or their only option may be satellite internet (which is definitely not fast).

Fiber Optic Internet

Now, there are a select few locations in the U.S. that have access to a type of internet service called fiber-optic. Currently Google is running a pilot program called Fiber which gives residents of select cities access to gigabit internet speeds.

Verizon is also rolling out fiber optic lines to limited locations across the country.

Fiber optic internet transmits data over light through glass fibers, as opposed to the standard copper coaxial cable. This allows for extremely fast speeds over extremely long distances.

For example, Google Fiber is 1 gigabit. This is almost 100 times faster than the fastest speeds you'd get from traditional ISPs!

So now you're probably wondering, "I wonder how fast my Internet is?"

Luckily this is really easy to test. By going to speedtest.net, you can check your computer's internet speed.

With that here are you 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for home internet speeds:

  1. Check your current internet speed using Speedtest.net.

  2. If you're trying to gauge how much speed you need, ask yourself how you use the internet and how many people you'll be sharing your connection with, then follow the guidelines I outlined earlier.

  3. Remember that Mbps (megabits) is 8 times slower than MBps (megabytes).

  4. If you live in one of the few areas of the U.S. where fiber optic cable is available, consider upgrading your service to increase your internet speed by nearly 100 times.

Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them on Facebook.com/QDTtechtalker.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!



About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.

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