There’s no single “best speed” when it comes to Internet service, which is why choosing a package can be confusing. The speeds that work fine for your neighbor might not be what your household needs, since there are many aspects to consider and differences in how people use the Internet.
Let’s quickly review the meaning of bandwidth and how it relates to Internet speed. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred over an Internet connection per second. It’s usually measured in Mbps (megabits per second), and each Internet plan has a detailed maximum bandwidth, such as 50 Mbps or 200 Mbps, or a gigabit (1000 Mbps). This bandwidth is shared by all the users and connected devices in a household.
It may be helpful to think of bandwidth as a highway with vehicles traveling on it; the highway is the Internet connection and the vehicles are the data. The wider the highway, the more vehicles can travel on it at one time and the faster they get to their destinations. The same principle applies to data — the more bandwidth, the more information that can be transferred within a given amount of time. The best bet is to get the fastest internet speed to guarantee plenty of bandwidth for everything life throws your way, but let’s breakdown how speeds change based on your Internet package or the devices connected to your router.
To help you figure out the best Internet package for you, here’s some questions to consider:
What are your current download and upload speeds?
Download speed is the speed at which you can get information from the web to your device. Upload speed is the speed at which you can send information from your device to the web.
How many Internet-connected devices do you have in your home?
Add all the computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, Blu-ray disc players, video game consoles, streaming media devices, and smart home monitoring/automation equipment you use. Anything that can connect to the internet uses bandwidth; this is also called the Internet of Things (IoT), so be aware of everything connected. According to a survey released by Pew Research in May 2017, the typical (median) American household contains five IoT devices, and nearly one-in-five American households are “hyper-connected,” meaning they contain 10 or more of these devices.
The more devices you have, the more bandwidth/speed you need. Since bandwidth is shared by every user and device connected to your home network, multiple online demands happening concurrently will require an Internet package with speeds at the higher end of the spectrum. Remember, even background processes like software updates use your bandwidth.
How do you use the Internet?
If you only have a desktop computer that’s used to check social media and check email, then a relatively slower Internet connection (such as 50 Mbps) may suffice. However, if you have a family of several people simultaneously using your Internet connection for data-intensive activities — such as streaming HD video and music, online gaming, sharing photos and videos online, video chat, and cloud storage — then you’re probably going to be happiest with a gigabit speed package.
What are your Internet performance expectations?
Let’s say you only occasionally watch videos online. In this case, you may be willing to tolerate slow load times and buffering. But if streaming HD movies is a cherished part of your routine, you’ll be frustrated by slow speeds and the annoying lag that comes with them. Make sure the Internet speed you choose is in line with the value you place on Internet performance quality. Not too many people enjoy watching their favorite show while it buffers.
Do family members or houseguests complain about your Internet connection?
If your answer to this question is “Yes,” it’s a sign that you might need more bandwidth/speed. However, it’s important to note that other factors can also negatively impact your Internet performance.
For example, if your wireless router is outdated, you may not be getting the speed you expect from your plan. Some older routers have a speed cap limiting the maximum Internet speed possible. Replacing your router may be all that’s necessary to get the speed you need to keep everybody happy. At Craw-Kan, we give you a free router, with free installation, so your device is up to speed at all times!
Other possible culprits for under-performing Internet service include:
- Your wireless router is in the wrong location. Keep your router centrally located and away from windows, water, and thick walls made of brick or concrete.
- Neighbors are using your Wi-Fi. Putting a password on your router or limiting which devices can access your network will keep other people from using your network and slowing it down. If you’re a Craw-Kan customer, you could download the NetValet app to control access to your network.
- Your computer may be infected with a virus. This can make your Internet connection appear to be sluggish, when in reality, it’s a computer issue. Run a virus scan and if a virus is detected, follow the instructions.
Remember, Don’t Get Bit, Get GIGABIT!