What Internet Speed Do I Need?

Finding the right internet speed for your household can feel like a huge undertaking. For those who aren’t internet experts, there are so many factors to consider that it might feel overwhelming.

Do you have multiple devices in your home? How many people live in your household? Do you mainly use your connection to work from home, or are you someone who streams TV and video games every day? 

Clearly, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right internet connection for your home. That’s why we’ve created a guide to help you determine the right speed and type of connection to keep your Wi-Fi running smoothly.

How Many Mbps Do I Need? Breaking Down the Basics

Upload vs. Download Speeds

Before we go further, let’s quickly clear up the difference between upload and download speeds. Both are measured in Mbps, but they serve different purposes for your internet usage.

  • Download speed is the rate that data is transferred from the Internet to your device.
    • E.g., streaming a movie, scrolling through social media, listening to a podcast, etc.
  • Upload speed is the rate that data is transferred from your device to the Internet.
    • E.g., sending an email, making changes to a shared Google doc, video calling, etc.

It’s important to note that not all internet connections provide symmetrical upload and download speeds (download and upload speeds that are the same speed). Many internet connections offer asymmetrical upload and download speeds, so you could receive 100 Mbps in download speeds but only 50 Mbps in upload speeds.

An asymmetrical speed might not matter too much when streaming movies and shopping online, but if you work from home or are a serious gamer, symmetrical speeds help avoid lag and buffering.

Fiber vs. Traditional Internet

So, what internet connections provide reliably symmetrical speeds? And what types of internet are available near you?

The three most common types of high speed internet connections are fiber optic, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), and cable. 

  • Fiber optic internet transmits data by sending electrical signals through thin glass fibers. Because these signals can travel so quickly, fiber internet offers some of the fastest speeds on the market—including symmetrical upload and download speeds.
  • DSL uses wire copper telephone lines to transmit data to your home. Since DSL optimizes existing telephone wires, it’s widely available throughout the US. However, it’s not as fast or consistent as fiber.
  • While DSL internet uses telephone lines to transfer signals, cable internet uses television cable wires to transmit data from the internet to your device. Cable internet is also widely available, but its speeds are also not as fast or consistent as fiber.

If you’re looking for fast and trustworthy internet speeds, you’ll want to see whether fiber optic internet is available in your area.

Note: If you live in a rural region of the US, these internet connections may not be available to you. For rural customers, satellite internet, which uses signals from satellites orbiting the earth, is typically your only option. 

What Qualifies as High Speed Internet?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), you need at least 25 Mbps of download speed to effectively work from home and stream videos on a singular device. Anything over 25 Mbps is considered “advanced service.”

The FCC recommends advanced service for any household that contains more than two users who run multiple high demand applications at a time. 

What qualifies as a high demand application? The FCC says “streaming HD video, multiparty video conferencing, online gaming, [and] telecommuting” would require more than 25 Mbps. 

So, if you live with at least one other person, or if you use more than one device at a time, you’ll need more than 25 Mbps of download speeds to keep your connections running smoothly.

Internet Speed Chart

Now that you have a stronger understanding of the best internet connections for symmetrical upload and download speeds, let’s take a look at the recommended internet speeds for day-to-day activities. 

Note: These recommended speeds refer to how much is needed for a single device in your household. 

Finding the Right Internet Speed for Your Lifestyle

As we’ve discussed, finding the right speed for your household depends on many factors. A professional who works from home will have different needs than a Twitch streamer, for instance. 

Let’s break down how many Mbps you need to support your internet lifestyle.

How Much Internet Do I Need to Work From Home?

For professionals who work from home, a high speed internet connection is crucial. 

As you can see from our recommended speed chart, you’ll want at least 50 Mbps to conduct video conference calls and download large files. With that in mind, we recommend a minimum of 50 Mbps download speeds to work from home without disruptions from buffering or lag.

If you live alone, 50 to 100 Mbps would be more than enough to keep your Zoom calls and other work applications running smoothly.

However, if you have a roommate or family members who also live in your home, you’ll want a faster internet speed. To ensure their devices and internet activity aren’t taking away from your connection, we recommend 200 Mbps or above to keep your WFH lifestyle as stress-free as possible.

Note: If your job requires video uploading, graphic design software, or frequent video calls, we recommend 200 Mbps or more to ensure your bandwidth keeps up with you. 

How Much Internet Do I Need for Gaming?

Whether you’re a serious gamer or someone who likes to unwind with Mario Kart at the end of the day, a fast internet connection is the best way to avoid high latency rates.

Depending on the system you use, you’ll probably want symmetrical upload and download speeds. Take a look at this helpful chart to see the minimum speeds needed for your preferred gaming console.

It might surprise you to see how low the recommended speeds are, but keep in mind this applies to only one device. If you have other devices connected to the internet at the same time, or are live streaming as you play, you’ll want a bandwidth that can support your activity.

We recommend at least 50 to 100 Mbps for gaming if you live alone. If you have more than one gamer in your household, or any other internet users in your home, you’ll want 200 Mbps or more.

For more information on good internet speeds for gamers, check out our gaming internet speed guide.

How Much Internet Do I Need for Twitch Streaming?

You might assume that Twitch streaming requires a super high bandwidth to ensure a super smooth performance. Fortunately, that’s not really the case.

Twitch recommends that you have an upload speed of at least 3 to 6 Mbps to stream on low settings without buffering. To stream at the highest setting, upload speeds should be a minimum of 10 Mbps. 

Again, it’s important to take into account that symmetrical download and upload speeds can ensure the game is running smoothly as you play and stream. A 10 Mbps internet plan doesn’t necessarily guarantee 10 Mbps of both upload and download speeds.

With that in mind, an internet speed of at least 25 to 50 Mbps can help keep your streaming smooth and your ping rate low. The faster your internet plan, however, the more you can assure that your streaming is safeguarded from buffering. 

 How Much Internet Do I Need for Streaming TV?

To stream your favorite shows on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and other platforms, choose a download speed of at least 25 Mbps. Of course, if you have multiple devices and users, your ideal internet speed is closer to 50 Mbps. This applies to streaming live TV as well.

From our Internet Speed Chart higher up on this page, you’ll recall that HD and 4K streaming require faster internet than SD (standard definition). So if you want to stream your shows in Ultra HD 4K, you’ll want at least 100 Mbps to ensure the highest quality possible. 

If you have multiple TV streamers in your household, increase your speeds so everyone can have a smooth viewing experience. 200 Mbps or more can help you all enjoy your shows without lag.

How Fast Your Internet Should Be: The Bottom Line

In this guide, we’ve walked through the basics of what you need to have a strong internet connection. Depending on your location, lifestyle, and number of people in your household, your bandwidth needs will differ from others’. 

Let’s recap the most important points we discussed.

  • For the fastest and most reliable internet with symmetrical upload and download speeds, we recommend a fiber optic connection
  • To work from home smoothly, we recommend at least 50 Mbps.
  • For a smooth online gaming experience, we recommend at least 100 Mbps.
  • For Twitch streaming, we recommend at least 25 Mbps.
  • For streaming on your favorite TV platforms, we recommend at least 50 Mbps.
  • If you live in a home with more than one device and internet user, choose a faster internet connection to keep up with everyone’s online activities.

Now that you’re ready to upgrade to your perfect internet speed, Kinetic by Windstream is a great place for you to start.

Kinetic by Windstream is a fantastic option for affordable, fiber backed internet. With speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 1 GIG (1000 Mbps), Kinetic by Windstream has no contracts, data caps, or overage charges—we provide fast and reliable internet so you can work, stream, and game without stress.

Test Your Internet Speed

Want to see how fast your current connection is? Test your internet speed with our speed test. 

If you’re looking for a faster internet connection, Kinetic by Windstream offers high speed internet in 18 states across the US. Find out if our fiber optic network is available in your area and get ready for less lag and more fun.

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