What is a good internet speed?
A good internet speed should correspond to what your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has promised. For most Australian households, especially those with 2 adults and 3 to 4 children, a download speed of 100 Mbps and an upload speed of 50 Mbps are generally adequate. These speeds allow for multiple individuals to stream 4K movies at the same time, given that a single 4K stream requires at least 20 Mbps.
In today’s digital age, a fast and reliable internet connection has become as essential as electricity or running water in our daily lives. From streaming high-definition videos and online gaming to video conferencing and cloud storage, the speed of your internet service plays a crucial role in determining the quality of your online experience. In this blog post, we aim to shed light on the factors that contribute to good internet speed and how you can get the most out of your internet service.
What Makes a Good Internet Speed?
Understanding Download and Upload Speeds
Firstly, it’s important to understand two fundamental metrics that define your internet speed: download and upload speeds.
- Download Speed: This is the rate at which your internet connection can retrieve data from the internet, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Whether you’re watching a video, downloading a file, or browsing a webpage, a faster download speed ensures that these tasks are completed quickly and efficiently.
- Upload Speed: This refers to the rate at which your internet connection can send data to the internet, also measured in Mbps. Upload speed becomes particularly important when you are sending large files, backing up photos or videos to the cloud, or participating in video conferencing.
Baseline Speeds for Different Activities
Now that you understand the basics, what constitutes a ‘good’ internet speed?
- For Basic Browsing and Email: A minimum of 5-10 Mbps download speed should suffice.
- For Streaming HD Video: It’s recommended to have at least 15-25 Mbps.
- For Online Gaming: 25-40 Mbps download speed and a minimum upload speed of 3-5 Mbps are generally considered good.
- For Large File Downloads and Video Conferencing: You’ll need more robust speeds, ideally above 50 Mbps for downloads and at least 10 Mbps for uploads.
However, these are just baseline figures. In a household with multiple users and devices connected to the internet simultaneously, higher speeds may be required to ensure a smooth and lag-free experience for everyone.
Factors Influencing Internet Speed Requirements
The size of your household is one of the most crucial factors that influence your internet speed requirements. A larger household with multiple members using the internet simultaneously for different activities will require higher speeds compared to a single-person household.
Types of Online Activities
Different online activities demand various internet speeds:
- Basic Browsing and Email: Low-speed
- Streaming HD or 4K Video: Moderate to high-speed
- Online Gaming: High-speed
- Video Conferencing: Moderate to high-speed
- File Downloads/Uploads: High speed
Number of Devices Connected
Today’s households typically have a range of devices connected to the internet, from smartphones and tablets to smart TVs and home security systems. The more devices you have connected, the greater the strain on your internet speed, requiring a higher-speed internet plan to maintain performance.
How to Determine Your Internet Speed Needs
A speed test is an excellent initial step to gauge your current internet speed. Various online tools can accomplish this. Remember to conduct the test at different times of the day and on different devices to get a well-rounded view.
Calculating Speed Requirements Based on Usage
To calculate your speed needs, make a list of all the online activities commonly performed in your household and the number of devices used. Sum up their individual speed requirements to get an overall figure.
Tips for Determining Ideal Internet Speed
- Consider Peak Usage: Think about the times when the most people are online and what they will be doing.
- Factor in Future Needs: As technology advances, internet speed requirements may increase, so opt for a slightly higher speed than you currently need.
- Consult Your ISP: Your Internet Service Provider can offer valuable advice tailored to your specific needs.
Internet Speed Tiers
- Good For: Basic browsing, emails.
- Ideal Number of Users: 1
- Good For: Streaming HD videos, casual gaming, and video calls.
- Ideal Number of Users: 1-3
- Good For: Multiple HD streams, online gaming, and large file downloads.
- Ideal Number of Users: 3-5
- Good For: Streaming in 4K, competitive online gaming, multiple large file downloads.
- Ideal Number of Users: 5-10
- Good For: Virtually anything—from multiple 4K streams to professional-level online gaming to massive file uploads and downloads.
- Ideal Number of Users: 10+
What is Fast Internet According to Regulations?
ACCC’s Definition of Broadband Speed
In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides guidelines and expects ISPs to give accurate information about typical busy period speeds that the average consumer can expect to receive.
Proposed Changes to the Baseline Definition of Broadband
There are ongoing discussions to re-evaluate the definition of “broadband” to account for the modern internet usage landscape, given that remote work, online gaming, and streaming services have become more prevalent. This may lead to new recommendations for baseline broadband speeds in the future.
Fastest Internet Providers
Brief on Providers Offering the Fastest Speeds
In Australia, several providers offer high-speed internet services, although the availability might differ depending on the location. Some of the fastest providers include:
- NBN Co: As the primary infrastructure for internet in Australia, the NBN offers several speed tiers up to gigabit levels in some locations.
- Telstra: Known for extensive coverage and high-speed offerings.
- Optus: Provides competitive speeds and various packages tailored to different needs.
- TPG: Offers a range of high-speed options, including NBN plans.
- Aussie Broadband: Known for quality service and fast speeds, particularly during peak hours.
Tested vs Advertised Speeds
How Actual Speeds May Differ from Advertised Speeds It’s crucial to note that ISPs often advertise “up to” speeds, representing the peak performance rather than a consistent rate. Therefore, your actual internet speed may vary due to several factors.
Factors That Can Affect the Speed You Actually Get
- Network Congestion: During peak hours, increased internet usage can cause slowdowns.
- Distance from Exchange: Being far from the network exchange can result in slower speeds.
- Quality of Your Hardware: Outdated hardware can significantly impair your internet speed.
- Type of Connection: Fibre connections are generally faster and more reliable than ADSL or cable.
- Internal Wiring and Setup: Poor internal wiring can reduce internet speed; this is something that specialised services can diagnose and address.
- Point of Interconnect (POI): ISPs have the option to purchase varying levels of capacity at the Points of Interconnect. If an ISP under-provisions at the POI, it can lead to slower speeds for customers. Australia has 121 available POIs, giving ISPs considerable choice in how much capacity they purchase.
Understanding these factors can help you make a more informed decision when choosing an ISP and can also aid in troubleshooting should you experience lower-than-expected speeds.
Point of Interconnect (POI) plays a critical role in the actual internet speeds that customers experience. A POI is essentially a facility where internet service providers (ISPs) connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN) to gain access to broader network services. Australia currently has 121 available POIs, strategically located to ensure optimal data flow.
The Role of POIs in Internet Speed
ISPs have the option to purchase varying levels of capacity or bandwidth at these POIs. The amount of capacity that an ISP decides to buy can significantly affect the internet speeds experienced by their customers. If an ISP under-provisions—meaning they don’t buy enough capacity—it can result in slower speeds during peak times due to network congestion. This is because more customers are sharing a limited amount of bandwidth.
POI and Your Choice of ISP
When selecting an ISP, it’s essential to consider how well they manage their POI capacity. Some ISPs invest heavily in purchasing adequate bandwidth at multiple POIs to ensure high-speed, reliable service. Others might cut costs by under-provisioning, which can result in slower and less reliable internet, particularly during peak hours.
How POI Impacts Quality of Service
The quality of service you receive can be directly tied to how well your ISP manages its POI capacity. Under-provisioning can result in lower speeds, higher latency, and a less reliable connection. On the other hand, ISPs that adequately provision their POI capacity can offer you the consistent, high-speed internet that you’re paying for.
By understanding the role of POIs and how ISPs interact with them, you can make a more informed choice when selecting an internet provider and better understand the factors that may affect your actual internet speeds.
Is Gigabit Internet Worth It?
Scenarios Where Gigabit Internet Makes Sense
- High Bandwidth Usage: If multiple people in your household are streaming 4K videos, playing online games, and downloading large files simultaneously, gigabit internet can be invaluable.
- Professional Needs: Those in fields like video editing, game development, or 3D design often need to upload or download large files, making gigabit internet a sensible investment.
- Smart Homes: With an increasing number of IoT devices, from smart thermostats to security cameras, a high-speed connection can make a significant difference in performance.
- Remote Work: For professionals who are part of large virtual teams and often engage in video conferencing, a faster internet can mean more productive work.
Scenarios Where It’s Overkill
- Limited Devices: For a small household with only a few connected devices primarily used for web browsing and streaming, gigabit speeds are usually unnecessary.
- Cost Factor: The premium price of a gigabit connection may not be justified for users who don’t engage in activities that require such high speeds.
- Hardware Limitations: Older devices and routers may not even be capable of handling gigabit speeds.
What About Fast Upload Speeds?
Importance of Upload Speeds
While download speeds often get the most attention, upload speeds are crucial for various activities such as:
- Video Conferencing: Ensures smooth video and audio quality.
- Cloud Backup: Faster upload speeds make it easier to back up large files to the cloud.
- Content Creation: Essential for uploading videos, high-resolution photos, or any other large files.
What Constitutes a Fast Upload Speed?
A good baseline for fast upload speed would be around 10-20 Mbps for regular users and could go up to 50 Mbps or more for professional needs.
How to Calculate Your Internet Speed Needs
Step-by-Step Guide to Calculate Your Own Needs
- List Activities: Write down all the online activities that you regularly engage in.
- Assign Bandwidth: Look up the estimated Mbps needed for each activity per device.
- Sum Up: Add these up to find your total required Mbps for all devices.
- Add Overhead: Consider adding a 20-25% overhead to account for miscellaneous activities and potential network congestion.
How Many Mbps You Need Per Device for Common Activities
- Email and Browsing: 1-3 Mbps
- HD Video Streaming: 5-8 Mbps
- 4K Video Streaming: 25 Mbps
- Online Gaming: 3-6 Mbps
- Video Conferencing: 2-4 Mbps
Multiply these by the number of devices that would be doing these activities simultaneously to get a good estimate of your needed speed.
Troubleshooting Slow Internet Connection
Tips for Improving Your Current Speeds
- Check and Replace Hardware: Outdated routers or modems can hinder performance.
- Update Firmware: Keep your router firmware updated to take advantage of performance improvements.
- Wi-Fi Positioning: Place your router centrally and away from obstructions for optimal signal strength.
- Use Ethernet: For stationary devices like desktop computers or smart TVs, an Ethernet cable can offer a more stable connection.
- Limit Bandwidth-Hogging Applications: Close background applications that are consuming unnecessary bandwidth.
Internal Wiring Faults: An Important Consideration
If your home is still wired for ADSL or POTS line services, you may have a bridge tap affecting your connection. A bridge tap can cause slow internet speeds and frequent dropouts. To resolve this, consider using an internet technician service like ours to diagnose and fix the issue.
When to Consider Changing Your Internet Provider
- Consistent Slow Speeds: If your internet is continually slow despite troubleshooting, consider switching providers.
- Poor Customer Service: Unresolved issues or subpar customer service are valid reasons for looking elsewhere.
- Better Offers: A better deal with another provider for higher speeds at a similar or lower cost may justify a switch.
Summary of Key Points
- Good internet speed is influenced by household size, the types of online activities you engage in, and the number of devices connected.
- While general speed recommendations exist, individual needs may vary.
Final Recommendations for Determining a Good Internet Speed for You
- Conduct a speed test to gauge your current internet speed.
- Assess your daily activities and the number of devices you have to calculate your actual speed needs.
- Always add a buffer to your calculated needs to account for unforeseen circumstances or network congestion.
Tools for Testing Your Internet Speed
- Ookla Speedtest
- Google’s Internet Speed Test
Guide to Getting Faster Speeds
- Consider mesh Wi-Fi systems for larger homes.
- Utilise QoS settings to prioritise important internet traffic.
- If budget constraints exist, look for providers offering promotional rates for higher-speed plans.
Head Internet Technician
Jason Kearney is the Head Technician at SECURE A COM, with qualifications spanning NBN, ADSL, phone, and data cabling. Starting as an electrician, Jason quickly delved into the telecommunications sector, leading crucial projects like the rehabilitation of the Telstra network. With credentials in both managerial and technical aspects, he now specialises in phone line and NBN fault location and repair, serving both homes and businesses with effective and personalised telecommunications solutions