Emily Huffman

February 21, 2020

Internet Speeds: What Do I Really Need?

‘High-speed internet.’ You see the phrase everywhere these days.


From billboards to commercials to your favorite coffee shop, it’s the latest buzzword in telecommunication. But what does it actually mean? And do you actually need it?


Doing your research before you sign up for an internet package will keep you from settling for a speed that’s too slow and also save you from overpaying for a caliber of service you don’t actually need. CT Comm is here to help you avoid the bears and settle comfortably into the internet package that’s just right.


  1. Get familiar with the nitty gritty.


Your search for the perfect internet speed will be made infinitely easier if you have a basic understanding of the main components. These include:


Bandwidth: the amount of data that can be transmitted via the internet in a given amount of time; bandwidth capacity is contingent on a number of factors.


Download Speed: how quickly information travels from the server to your console; measured in megabits per second (Mbps).


Upload Speed: how quickly information travels from your device to the server; measured in megabits per second (Mbps).


Latency: how quickly your device communicates with the internet server; also known as ‘ping rate’; measured in milliseconds (ms) so the lower the number, the quicker the speed.


Understanding the different facets of internet speed will make it easier for you to both articulate your bandwidth needs on the front end and pinpoint potential areas of lag later on.


  1. Identify your internet habits.


Now that you’ve brushed up on the what, where, and why of the World Wide Web, you need to think about how you use the internet every day.


Is your use limited to quickly scrolling through Pinterest after work for easy dinner recipes or do you spend multiple hours per day defending the galaxy in your gaming room? Do you stream videos through a smart TV for your weekly movie night or are you still using cable for your evening entertainment? Do you need to continuously fire off emails while working from home or are you more of an in-person business communicator?


Don’t forget to factor in the number of people and devices that will be utilizing your internet connection. This includes all smartphones, smart TVs, streaming mediums like Roku, smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon Echo, laptops and computers, and tablets.


Feeling overwhelmed? Below is a breakdown of the speed requirements of the most popular internet activities:


Gaming. No matter if you’re the VIP of MMOs, RPGs, or FPSs, gaming notoriously takes up much more bandwidth than other internet activities. If you’re a regular gamer, you’ll want a minimum download speed of 5 Mbps, minimum upload speed of 1 Mbps, and a latency/ping rate under 150 ms.


Video Streaming. Is there anything more frustrating than having to stop in the middle of your show to wait for the rest of the episode to load? Proper internet speed can be the difference between catching the season finale’s big reveal and finding out about it second hand.


Generally, video streaming requires download speeds around 3 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 0.5 Mbps. Netflix requires an absolute minimum speed of 0.5 Mbps, but at least 3 Mbps is recommended for standard definition and 5 Mbps for high definition. It’s important to note that you’ll need to multiply these speeds by as many devices as will be streaming simultaneously.


Music Streaming. Listening to music (and podcasts, audiobooks, and any other form of audio) has become a near constant practice, especially among younger generations. The good news is that streaming audio is relatively easy on the bandwidth compared to other internet activities. Typically, 0.5 Mbps is enough to get the job done but again, be cognizant of the number of devices that will streaming at a given time.


Spotify requires different speeds depending on how you’re listening. If you’re streaming through a mobile device such as a smartphone, you’ll need anywhere from 0.01 to 0.16 Mbps. If you’re accessing music through the desktop app, you’ll need a little more bandwidth (0.16 to 0.32 Mbps).


General Browsing. As the most accessible internet activity, browsing comprises everything from scrolling through social media to mining the boundless depths of Wikipedia for obscure facts. Highly bandwidth friendly, you can browse with reckless abandon knowing it commands just 1 to 5 Mbps.




We hope that the information in this article will allow you to enter into an internet service conversation better able to articulate your exact needs. To find out more about the tailored service packages we offer here at CT Comm, head over to our Internet page or feel free to give us a call and we can give you a speed and package recommendation.


As always, we’re incredibly grateful for the more than one hundred years of support we’ve received from our local Urbana community. We look forward to continuing to serve Champaign County and the surrounding areas with the most cutting-edge technology in telecommunications.