When it comes to internet speed, most people would agree that faster is better. But how much do you really need for your average household use? For light internet users, paying for gigabit speed might make as much financial sense as renting a hypersonic jet to pick up groceries.
On the other hand, packages that offer more speed and bandwidth can greatly enhance online experiences for internet fans. If you love streaming video, online gaming, and using multiple connected devices simultaneously, higher speeds mean smoother streaming, better response time, and more bandwidth for your entire family’s devices to share.
Think of your internet data flowing like water in your home. Have you ever had a satisfying shower drop to a weak sprinkle because someone in the house turned on a sink or started a load of wash? Like water pressure, your internet speed can decrease with every additional device that’s using data. At a certain point, too many devices on a network can cause problems like video buffering, input lag during online gaming, and slow web browsing.
When you’re shopping for a data plan, evaluate how you expect to use the internet and choose a plan with enough speed and bandwidth for your needs. Note that as maximum download speeds increase, so do maximum upload speeds, monthly bandwidth allowances, and plan prices.
As an example, let’s look at downloading a 50 GB file. Using a 10 Mbps connection, it would take 11 hours or longer to download. With a 1 Gig connection, the same file could be downloaded in about 8 minutes. Some commonly downloaded file types, such as high-definition videos and video games, can be huge, and your internet speed will affect how quickly they can be delivered.
Upload speed is also important, especially if you host streaming channels or upload videos. The 10 Mbps speed from the previous example was for downloads, but uploads with this plan will transfer at a speed of up to 1 Mbps. While you might not ever need to upload a 50 GB file, doing so would take approximately 5 days to upload at 1 Mbps. A 1 Gig internet plan that includes upload speeds of up to 40 Mbps and could get the job done in about 3 hours.
Not sure what kind of internet speed is right for your home? Here are some general guidelines based on Blue Ridge’s internet plans.
For 1-2 lighter users, 1-5 devices
For up to 3-5 average users, up to 10 devices
For heavy users, content creators, 10+ devices
Bear in mind that these examples are based on getting a quality experience. You can use as many devices as you want and attempt all of these activities with any plan, but you may not have the best experience if your internet isn’t fast enough. Even if you have enough patience to wait hours for downloads to complete or can deal with frequent buffering during HD video streams, exceeding the monthly bandwidth allowance of some plans may result in overage charges.
More speed = better performance
Your internet speed needs ultimately come down to how your household plans to use it. The more users and devices your network serves, the more important speed and bandwidth become. Unless you spend very little time online, consider trying the fastest plan that fits within your monthly budget, because no one ever complains that their internet is too fast.