Broadband Speed Needs Calculator
How much broadband speed do I need?
Ideally, you should get an internet plan with speeds at least as fast as what the calculator describes.
It’s a good idea to test your current internet speed. If your current speed is a lot lower than what is suggested, this could be why you experience extreme buffering or lag when playing video games.
On the other hand, if your current speed is more than what the calculator suggests, then there could be other problems that are affecting your connectivity. For example, your WiFi signal strength.
Essentially, you’ll need enough speed to handle all of the internet traffic your household consumes. The more people in the house, and the more you use the internet, the more internet speed you need.
What is a good internet speed?
A good internet speed will give you enough bandwidth for the whole household to use the internet interruption-free, whether they be on social media, streaming videos, or gaming.
In the UK, a good internet speed is around 70Mbps. Keep in mind that the 2018 national average download speed was 54.2Mbps.
Depending on your internet usage, a good internet speed might be anything from 15Mbps to 100Mbps, or even higher. That’s why it’s a good idea to use our calculator to find what internet speed you need.
Also, what a good speed is will also depend on where you live, and the type of internet connections you can get.
Rural areas often suffer from slower average download speeds. Therefore, a good internet speed in the countryside may be slightly lower than what you can expect in an urban area. You might be able to get faster speeds using mobile broadband in rural areas.
What is Mbps?
Mbps refers to megabits per second. This is the universal standard when it comes to measuring broadband speed. It’s also what internet service providers (ISPs) use to describe how fast their deals are.
Basically, a download speed of 10Mbps means that you can download 10 megabits of data per second. The same concept applies to your upload speeds.
For context, a 30-minute TV show is about 280 megabits in size. Therefore, with a 10Mbps connection, it would take 28 seconds to download, assuming you wanted to download the entire film before beginning to watch.
Why do I need more speed the more people in the household?
You can think of your broadband connection a bit like a motorway.
The more lanes there are, the more cars can move along it at any gives time.
The same is true of your internet connection.
The more bandwidth you have, or the greater your speed is, the more data you can download at any given moment.
If there are multiple people in your house doing internet-intensive activities at any given moment (for example, watching HD video on Netflix, or downloading large files) then you need more bandwidth to be able to run these downloads concurrently without experiencing buffering.
If there isn’t enough bandwidth, the network will get clogged, slowing everyone down.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to get as much bandwidth as possible if you have a lot of heavy internet users in your household.
What internet speed do I need for video streaming (Netflix/YouTube/Amazon Prime)?
As we discussed above, it should technically only take 28 seconds to download a 30-minute high definition video, assuming a 10Mbps download speed.
However, when you have multiple people in the house buffering video at the same time, this can slow you down greatly.
The resolution of the video being watched also matters. If you normally watch video in 2K or 4K as opposed to just regular high definition, then the amount of data you’re downloading (and the amount of speed you need) will increase greatly.
To stream HD 1080p video from sites like YouTube and Netflix, you will want 10Mbps as an absolute minimum, and more if there is more than one internet user in the house.
However, if downloading 4K video, you will need at least 25Mbps of download speed to ensure buffer-free viewing.
Remember, when streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video give a minimum required level of bandwidth to use their service, this assumes that only one device is streaming at once. As soon as multiple people use the internet for streaming video at the same time, the amount of bandwidth you need to avoid buffering will increase.
What internet speed do I need for gaming?
When playing multiplayer games like Fortnite or FIFA, what actually matters most is your latency, not your download speed.
This is because when you move your character, or when other players move theirs, you are not sending or receiving massive volumes of data.
Online gaming actually uses very small packets of data to manage multiplayer matches. Note that this does not apply to when you initially download the game, or when downloading patches. This will normally involve a big download of a gigabyte or more.
In game, what matters is how fast these tiny packets of data can be received from or sent to the server. This speed is called latency, or ping.
The thing is, no UK ISPs advertise an average ping for their plans. This is because your latency depends on a number of factors, including where the game server is located, and whether you’re playing on WiFi or not.
However, the faster your download speeds, the better your ping will be, in general.
This is because your ping is affected tremendously by other users of the network.
If someone else is watching Amazon Prime in 4K while you’re gaming, and you don’t have the necessary speed, your game is going to be next to unplayable.
Therefore, for gaming, it’s a good idea to have internet speeds of at least 30Mbps, especially if the rest of the family is very data-hungry.
What upload speed do I need?
So far we have mostly talked about download speeds. This is the headline figure used to advertise most broadband deals in the UK.
However, your upload speed also matters, especially for social media users.
If you’re always uploading pictures or videos to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, then you will want a fast upload speed. This is especially true if live-streaming yourself, for example on sites like Twitch.
You generally need an upload speed of at least 5Mbps for social media, and 10Mbps if uploading video in real-time.
What internet speed can I get?
Unless you live in a rural area, most internet service providers should be able to deliver their full range of broadband packages.
This means that you can get internet speeds of up to 300Mbps or even more. If you live in an area that is serviced by Hyperoptic, you may be able to get even faster speeds.
On the other hand, if you live in a rural area, you will need to put in your postcode on the provider’s site and find out from them what speeds are available.
In general, even in the most remote areas, you should be able to get at least 20-30Mbps with traditional fibre.
However, if that’s not enough, you can always use a wireless dongle. By getting on a 4G or 5G network and having your broadband delivered wirelessly, you should be able to unlock at least an additional 10-20Mbps, in terms of your download speed.
What provider should I go with?
Unless you need a download speed of 300Mbps or more, it’s likely you’re going to have quite a few different choices when selecting a broadband provider to use.
Basically, there are two categories of ISP:
- Those on the Openreach network, like Sky, BT, Plusnet, and TalkTalk. These providers are simply selling access to BT’s network. However, not all of these providers are necessarily going to offer the same service, as they all operate independently.
- Those not on the Openreach network. Currently, this is only Virgin Media and Hyperoptic. Each have their own network which is separate to BT’s infrastructure.
It’s a good idea to research the level of customer service provided by a given ISP before signing a contract. If your speed isn’t up to scratch, you will want your provider to help you solve the problem.
However, this isn’t the only thing to consider. You also want to think about the contract length (lower is better), what price you’re paying, and what other benefits are included with a given plan, like landline minutes.
For more information, check out our complete broadband buyer’s guide.
Which provider has the fastest internet in the UK?
As we just discussed, the more speed you need, the less choice you will have when choosing an ISP. This is because there are only a couple of providers capable of delivering super-fast fibre broadband in the UK right now.
Basically, you have three options for super-fast fibre.
- BT: will do up to 300Mbps.
- Virgin Media: will do up to 362Mbps.
- Hyperoptic: will do up to 1000Mbps (one gigabit per second). Their network coverage is limited, but is always expanding.
For most households that need a lot of bandwidth, Virgin is the best provider, unless you need more than 400Mbps. Although they might need to send out a technician to begin the installation, they have the most widely-available fast fibre in the UK.
Do I need fast internet to make phone calls?
You will need slightly faster internet to handle phone calls, provided they are being made using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Basically, VoIP means that your voice is being transmitted and received over the internet, using a service like Skype, Viber, or Discord.
However, if you are making calls using your landline, your speed isn’t a big deal. What matters is that you have a stable broadband connection.
What internet speed do I need for video calls on Zoom?
Similar to a regular phone call, the stability of your connection is more important than how much speed you have when video calling on Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams.
Therefore, you will want to ensure that you’re near your WiFI router, or plugged into the router with an Ethernet cable, to reduce the chances of lag or the call dropping out.
To avoid your web cam video buffering, you generally want to have at least a 15Mbps download speed, which 99% of broadband deals will provide.
However, if lots of people are using the internet while you’re on a video call, this could cause stability issues, unless you have faster speeds.Check price on TalkTalk Check price on Plusnet Check price on BT Check price on Virgin Media Check price on BT Check price on Virgin Media Check price on Hyperoptic
About the author
Tom is the founder of Broadband Savvy. When he’s not writing about broadband, you’ll find him walking his dog (Rex) or playing agar.io.