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what is a good speed for internet

Good internet speed is a highly sought after product for many households and internet speed depends on many factors. A “good” speed varies depending on the amount and type of internet usage such as simple web surfing, streaming videos, or working from home. Below we’ll describe the speeds and services recommended depending on household size and activity type.

LIGHT USEMODERATE USEHIGH USE
1 user on 1 deviceBasic ServiceBasic ServiceMedium Service
2 users or devices at a timeBasic ServiceMedium ServiceMedium/Advanced Service
3 users or devices at a timeMedium ServiceMedium ServiceAdvanced Service
4 users or devices at a timeMedium ServiceAdvanced ServiceAdvanced Service

Basic Service = 3 to 8 Mbps. Medium Service = 12 to 25 Mbps. Advanced Service = More than 25 Mbps. Mbps (Megabits per second) is the standard measure of broadband speed. It refers to the speed with which information packets are downloaded from, or uploaded to, the internet.*Speed usage data from FCC website.

Below is a table outlining the various speeds offered by our Best Internet Service Providers of 2022, along with any data caps they impose.

COMPANYDOWNLOAD SPEED (MBPS)UPLOAD SPEED (MBPS)DATA CAP
AT&T Internet »0.8 Mbps – 940 Mbps0.4 Mbps – 940 MbpsNo Cap
Verizon Internet »300 Mbps – 940 Mbps300 Mbps – 880 MbpsNo Cap
Xfinity Internet »50 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps5 Mbps – 2,000 MbpsStarting at 1.2 TB
Cox Internet »25 Mbps – 940 Mbps3 Mbps – 35 MbpsStarting at 1 TB
Spectrum Internet »10 Mbps – 940 Mbps10 Mbps – 35 MbpsNo Cap

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What Is a Good Internet Speed for Web Surfing?

Overall, web surfing requires relatively little bandwidth, although a somewhat faster connection is required for videos.

When picking a plan with data upload and download speeds that match your needs, consider your day-to-day internet activities and choose accordingly. With some quick math, you can determine what you use. For instance, sending a text-only email uses only about 10 kilobytes (KB), according to Verizon Wireless.

A typical web page might require 1 megabyte (MB) to load, audio streaming uses about 51 MB per hour, streaming standard-definition video uses 500 MB per hour, and streaming high-definition video uses up 1.6 gigabytes (GB) per hour.

Users who buy less broadband capability than they need may end up disappointed with the result.

“Bandwidth is one of the two most important elements in computing these days, along with screen quality, since computational speeds are almost always more than enough for non-engineering tasks,” says Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., a web usability expert and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group. However, he says, “Most users still save on bandwidth and prefer a moderate bandwidth at a moderate price to the highest-speed, highest-cost option.”

What Is a Good Internet Speed for Streaming Video?

Streaming video and videoconferencing require higher speeds. If these comprise a good percentage of your daily internet activities, you’ll need faster internet service with low latency. A provider with a fiber-optic connection is the fastest and most reliable choice, with cable a close second.

It’s best to know your typical use and be aware of any data caps on your plan so you don’t exceed them. This could force you to pay data overcharges or cause your ISP to “throttle,” or slow your speeds. Streaming one minute of standard-definition video uses 11.7 MB, high-definition video uses 41.7 MB, and 4K ultra HD video devours 97.5 MB, which is the equivalent of sending nearly 5,000 email messages.

Fiber internet service consistently offers low rates of data loss (less than 0.4 milliseconds) and the lowest latency to ensure minimal disruptions. Take a look at internet providers like Frontier, which has an average latency rate of 9 ms, or Verizon Fios, which registers 12 ms. That’s barely perceptible to the average user and even to a frequent gamer.

What Is a Good Internet Speed for Multiple Devices?

The FCC says the best ISPs for two or more connected devices and moderate to heavy internet use should offer at least 12 megabits per second (Mbps) of download speed. For four or more devices, 25 Mbps is recommended.

For two or more users who regularly stream high definition or 4K video, use videoconferencing, participate in online gaming, or work from home, a good internet speed of 12 to 25 Mbps makes the most sense. Homes with four or more people using four or more connected devices will certainly want download speeds of 25 Mbps or more. That said, most experts recommend even higher speeds – at least 100 Mbps – for households with heavy internet use.

Most ISPs deliver their promised broadband speed, says the FCC in its tenth Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report, released in January 2021. The report evaluates 12 different ISPs along with the different technology configurations such as fiber, cable, DSL, and satellite. The report states that out of these providers, only one performed below 90% for actual-to-advertised download speed.

Many plans on our Best Internet Providers of 2022 list offer incremental increases in cost for exponentially more speed. Xfinity, for example, has a 200 Mbps plan starting at $39.99 per month. For only $20 more per month, you could have 400 Mbps of download and upload speeds. That’s more than enough for the vast majority of families.

What Is a Good Internet Speed for Working From Home?

Working from home requires, at minimum, reliable internet service for email and a strong cellular signal or landline. It also often requires sharing large files and participating in videoconferences, both of which use considerable bandwidth.

Speedtest.net says video conference platforms like Zoom and Google Meet only work well when connected to adequately fast internet. Zoom suggests download and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps for video conferencing with multiple participants in high-definition. Google support documentation offers similar recommendations.

When considering how much speed you need, beware that low promotional pricing may be for an ISP’s lowest speeds. Also, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you make sure the download and upload speeds you actually get are the ones that you’re expecting.

Actual transmission speeds depend on the type of application you’re using, the number of people using it at the same time, and more. ISPs with a fiber optic network, like Verizon FiosAT&T, and others, are generally the fastest and most reliable. Fiber is followed by cable, and then other technologies like fixed wireless, DSL, and satellite internet.

What Is a Good Internet Speed for Gaming?

Best Internet Providers for Gaming of 2022

COMPANYMONTHLY COSTCONNECTION TYPEDOWNLOAD SPEED (MBPS)LATENCYLEARN MORE
Frontier Internet »3.6U.S. News Rating$32.99 and UpFiber, DSLUp to 940 Mbps9View Plans »
844-912-1548
Verizon Internet »4.3U.S. News Rating$39.99 and UpFiber300 Mbps – 940 Mbps12View Plans »
844-967-2143
Optimum Internet »3.3U.S. News Rating$24.95 and UpFiber, Cable10 mbps – 940 Mbps15See Review »
855-741-1615
Xfinity Internet »4.2U.S. News Rating$45.00 and UpFiber, Cable50 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps18View Plans »
Cox Internet »4.0U.S. News Rating$29.99 and UpFiber, Cable25 Mbps – 940 Mbps22View Plans »
844-913-7278

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The Best Internet Service Provider for Gaming ranking is based on the lowest latency measurements. We used data from the Ninth Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report to determine which internet providers delivered the lowest latency.

Spectrum Internet promotion price is $49.99/mo for 12 months. Wireless speeds may vary.

Gamers need low latency, high download and upload speeds, and a generous data plan for the best experience. The best ISPs for gaming mitigate latency and include both super-fast speeds and substantial data plans.

According to Xfinity, most video game console manufacturers recommend at least 3 Mbps of download speed and between 0.5 Mbps and 1 Mbps of upload speed. However, most serious gamers will want much higher speeds to compete effectively during online gaming. Games with fast action require fast responses. AT&T recommends at least 50 Mbps for download speeds and 10 Mbps for uploads. CenturyLink, on the other hand, suggests at least 25 Mbps for downloads.

To have the ultimate gaming experience, Xfinity recommends speed tiers with download speeds of 300 Mbps and above. Your download speed determines how fast your game information is pulled from the server, and upload speed determines how fast you push information back out to the server.

Gamers are also concerned with “ping,” or latency, which is the rate of response from your Internet connection to a request. Excessive latency can greatly reduce your competitiveness in online multiplayer games because it effectively increases your reaction time compared to your opponents’. For the best fast-paced gameplay experience, low latency is best.

According to AT&T’s internet data calculator, just one minute of online gameplay uses 200 KB.

Learn more in our Best Internet Providers for Gaming guide.

How Do I Check My Internet Speed?

Several speed-check websites offer one-click connection speed assessments for free, like Ookla Speedtest and Fast.com. Both are web-based services that can measure your connection’s latency, download speeds, and upload speeds from a remote server. Some ISPs have their own speed-check pages as well, like AT&T and Xfinity.

Your test will reveal a result in seconds, but make sure beforehand that no one on the network is downloading large files, streaming, video conferencing, gaming, or the like. You’ll want to know what your network is doing on an average day during a lull so you don’t skew your results. Then compare your tested speed to the advertised speed from your ISP. Different times of the day and days of the week will show much different speeds, so consider cross-checking and taking an average.

When Do Internet Speeds Slow Down?

Where you live, the time of day you’re using the internet, how many people live in your home, and what kinds of services they use all determine your internet speed. Your speeds may be slower on busy weekdays, just like rush hour on a highway. The more users there are, the heavier the congestion. If you imagine a road with a giant semi-truck representing heavy internet users and a small car representing light users, you can picture the way bottlenecks happen.

“Data caps have emerged in recent years as a way for Internet providers to police bandwidth usage on their networks,” says Tyler Cooper of BroadbandNow.com. “Rather than letting everyone use the ‘pipe’ as much as they want, the broadband industry in the U.S. seems to be moving towards a ‘pay as you go’ model where customers who use more data than others will have to pay extra for it.”

Schools, for example, must manage the number of users on the network, as do company owners and households.

“Every new user you add to an internet connection places additional strain on the connection, potentially slowing it down,” says McKetta. “This is true if you’re a school administrator trying to support multiple teachers streaming from one building. It’s also true if you’re a parent trying to set up multiple remote classrooms in addition to a remote office for yourself.”

Finally, many ISPs have “soft” data caps, which means your speed is slowed when the cap is exceeded. A few have “hard” data caps for which you’ll owe money when it’s exceeded. Verizon FiosSpectrum, and Frontier have no data caps.

How Do I Speed Up My Internet?

The FCC defines high-speed internet, or broadband, as offering a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and a minimum upload speed of 3 Mbps. That may be fine for most users, but if you want the best possible internet experience, you’ll need more speed.

Some tips to increase internet speeds include the following:

  • Upgrade your current internet plan
  • Install and use an ethernet cable
  • Consider upgrading your current hardware

If you’re not on your ISP’s most expensive, highest-speed plan, there’s room for more bandwidth. Find out from your provider what upgrade options you have and ask about special deals.
Wi-Fi in general does slow down your connection because of the limitations inherent in wireless technology, so use an ethernet cable for the fastest speeds.

You also might also consider upgrading your hardware. For instance, purchase a router that supports newer Wi-Fi standards, but beware of Wi-Fi extenders because they are notorious for slowing down connections. With an extender, everything you transmit over your network must be sent multiple times.

McKetta recommends using a Wi-Fi mesh system instead that can more intelligently select channels and route traffic. For more information on how to speed up your internet connection visit, Five Ways to Increase Your Internet Speed.

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At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Hospitals, Best Colleges, and Best Cars to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. Our 360 Reviews team draws on this same unbiased approach to rate the products that you use every day. To build our ratings, we researched more than 25 internet service providers and analyzed 13 reviews. Our 360 Reviews team does not take samples, gifts, or loans of products or services we review. All sample products provided for review are donated after review. In addition, we maintain a separate business team that has no influence over our methodology or recommendations.

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