What Is a Good Internet Speed To Have?

September 11, 2018 • Shannon Flynn


Your internet speed depends on a lot of different factors, most notably where you live. Internet speeds in a rural community are vastly different than speeds in an urban area.

Availability is another problem. Rural areas will have fewer internet service providers, or ISPs, to choose from. Then you have to consider data consumption, device hardware, comparable speeds and other factors to figure out where your internet is in the great race.

The thing is, there’s a difference between a good internet speed and the best internet speed available to you. We’re going to talk a little bit about both.

Average vs. Good Speeds

The easiest thing to do is to go through your ISP and find out what their best speeds in your area for what you’re paying. Your internet connection comes down to a personalized preference you might not even know you created. Of course, there are other tweaks around this issue, such as wired connections being far faster than wireless.

For basic internet browsing like email and social media, 5 megabits per second, or 5 Mbps, is an optimal speed. You’ll want at least 1 Mbps for web surfing, even on a slow connection.

Quick internet speeds are often used for gaming or live-streaming, which is suggested to have anywhere between 3 to 15 Mbps. Lastly, streaming should take 3 Mbps for standard definition to 25 Mbps for high definition.

Some companies are starting to promise even higher speeds in the near future. AT&T will offer 1 gigabit per second, or 1 Gbps, and XFINITY will offer 2 Gbps.

Even Google has its own high-speed cellular data plan, Project Fi. Typical download speeds for most internet providers, however, are usually within the 50 to 150 Mbps area, and upload speeds being much slower. Knowing what passes for a fast speed can be great, but finding out what you have is a whole other ballgame.

Test Your Speed

Your ISP likely tells you what your internet speed is, but getting a double check may not always be a bad idea. ISPs have been known to jump through many hoops to get you to pay for services you don’t even need, and fooling you about internet speed is one of their many cons. Luckily, there are a lot of services out there offering a free and easy check.

One of the easiest ways is to search “speed test” in either Bing or Google’s search engine. There’s not a lot of detail, but both services offer a quick speed test as the very first search result.

If you’re looking for a more detailed analysis, try Speedof.me for best results. Speedof.me is an HTML5-based test designed to replicate real web browsing conditions for more accurate results. You get a graph of speeds achieved in real-time and results on previous tests.

Improve Your Speed

With today’s on-demand economy, internet speed is of the essence. If you find your speeds are below the desired threshold, there are ways to get an improvement without upgrading your service and spending more money.

For one, you may want to make sure the device isn’t what’s slow or even the hardware in your router and modem. If the modem is outdated, looking into a replacement may be wise. Otherwise, network congestion can be a problem if different devices are streaming at the same time.

Making your connection faster could just mean slowing down your tasks. Also, being far away from the server or modem could slow down speeds on your device. Even the time of day could contribute if many people using the same ISP are online at the same time, like evenings and weekends.

Unfortunately, some ISPs are purposefully slowing down specific types of data coming from certain websites. With politics getting involved as of late, your connection may slow down even more.

The best cure for your ISP throttling select sites is to invest in a virtual private network, or VPN. The VPN hides the websites you’re visiting from your ISP, preventing them from slowing you down.

What Works for You

If your internet speed is too slow for you, you can try several small tips and tricks to improve it. However, looking into other ISPs is always a considerable option if you’re willing to pay for the move. If what you have works for your needs, then there’s no shame in sticking with the tried and true methods.