If you’re considering buying a new broadband deal, you might be wondering what is a good internet speed, given the amount of data we use in this day and age.
In this guide, we’ve looked at what constitutes a good internet speed, for each of the following (click to jump):
We’ve also looked at what is a good broadband speed, more generally:
Working from home
The amount of broadband speed you need when working from home depends on what you do at work.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer, and you’re constantly downloading and uploading large files, you will probably want a very high download speed.
For most people though, you won’t be constantly downloading and uploading large files when working from home. Instead, you’ll be:
- On Zoom or Microsoft teams calls
- Reading and sending emails
- Using Slack
- Downloading files occasionally
- Watching videos occasionally
For the average home worker, you will need a broadband speed of at least 10 Mbps to work productively. At this speed, large file downloads will be slow, but you’ll be able to watch videos and join Zoom calls seamlessly.
If other people are also working from home, or learning from home, you will want a higher broadband speed, otherwise all of your bandwidth will be used up. For couples, 20 Mbps is a good minimum download speed, and for families, a download speed of 30-40 Mbps will allow you to work from home productively, even when others are online.
To get a better idea of exactly how much broadband speed you need, depending on how many people use the internet in your household, you can use our broadband speed needs calculator.
When gaming, your broadband speed isn’t normally the most important thing. Instead, what matters most is your latency, or ping.
As you play an online game, very small packets of data are constantly being transmitted between your computer and the game server. Because these packets of data are so small, you don’t actually need much bandwidth to play online games. For most multiplayer games, a download speed of 5 Mbps will be plenty.
However, if you don’t have much bandwidth, your gaming experience will suffer when other people get online. If you only have a 5 Mbps download speed, and someone else begins streaming Netflix in HD, your ping will skyrocket, and most multiplayer games will become unplayable.
Therefore, the internet speed you need for gaming depends on how many people live in your household. If other people watch TV when you’re playing, you will ideally want a download speed of at least 15 Mbps, or at least 30 Mbps if there are three or more other people getting online at the same time you’re playing games.
You wouldn’t think that looking at Facebook, checking emails and doing some Google searches would use much bandwidth at all.
However, many modern web pages are actually quite large. Lots of websites use high-resolution images, high-definition videos, and complex scripts that may take a long time to load on slow connections.
Even the BBC’s homepage is quite big, at 2.5 megabytes (MB), which equals 20 megabits (Mb). Therefore, you’d have to have a download speed of 20 Mbps in order for this page to load in a single second (assuming you have a fast computer).
Loading webpages in 2-3 seconds is normally fine though – you don’t need sites to display instantly.
Therefore, a good broadband speed for basic web browsing is around 4-6 Mbps (download speed).
Any slower and you might have difficulty with especially large pages, like news articles with embedded video and images. But most pages are under 3MB in size, so you don’t need super-fast internet for browsing.
It’s actually quite simple to calculate how much broadband speed you need to stream videos.
All you need to know is:
- The video resolution (such as standard definition, high definition, or 4K ultra HD)
- The video frame rate (normally 24 frames per second, sometimes 60)
- The number of videos you’ll be streaming at the same time using your broadband connection
For example, to watch Netflix in 1080p HD at 24fps, they recommend a download speed of at least 5 Mbps. If you’re trying to watch Netflix on two devices at the same time, at 1080p, then you will need a download speed of 2x 5 = 10 Mbps, at least.
On the other hand, Netflix recommends a download speed of at least 15 Mbps to watch in 4K ultra HD at 24fps. Therefore, to watch 4K Netflix on two devices at once, you’ll need broadband speeds of at least 30 Mbps.
For other streaming services, as well as YouTube, the bandwidth requirements are quite similar. Therefore, to watch HD video, a good internet speed is 10 Mbps. Of course, to watch HD video on multiple devices at once, you will ideally want at least 15-20 Mbps.
When live streaming yourself on sites like Twitch.tv or Instagram Live, what matters most is your upload speed. This is because you’re sending data to the internet, rather than receiving it.
To live stream HD video to the world, you ideally want an upload speed of at least 5 Mbps. To live stream in 4K, you will want an upload speed of at least 9 Mbps.
If you don’t quite have upload speeds this fast, your stream may drop out or stutter. And if you’re playing online games, and streaming at the same time, you may experience lag, unless you have enough bandwidth to handle streaming and gaming at the same time.
What is a good download speed?
For most people, a good download speed is 50 Mbps. This amount of bandwidth will allow you to watch multiple ultra HD video streams at the same time, while still being able to play games or get on a Zoom call on another device.
A great broadband speed is 100 Mbps, for most households. Having a 100 Mbps download speed will allow you to download files much more quickly, including large video game updates.
Currently, the average download speed in the UK is 50.4 Mbps, according to Ofcom.
What is a good upload speed?
A good upload speed is 10 Mbps. With an upload speed this fast, you’ll be able to upload images and videos to social media, without worrying about running out of bandwidth, and increasing latency on your connection (leading to lag if someone else is playing video games). You’ll also be able to live stream HD video, without facing dropouts.
A great broadband upload speed is 15 Mbps or more. This will allow you to upload large files, such as 4K videos, much more quickly.
It’s important to note, you may not need an upload speed this high. The two risks of having a slow upload speed are:
- Online games lag when you use all of your upload bandwidth
- When live streaming videos to other people (not streaming video from somewhere like Amazon Prime), you will drop out, or experience lag
If you don’t live stream or play online games, an upload speed of 5 Mbps will be plenty.
The average upload speed in the UK is currently 9.8 Mbps.
This is the end of our guide explaining what is a good download and upload speed, for various broadband use-cases.
If you’re still not sure whether your broadband is too slow, or what internet speed you need, feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll respond as soon as possible.
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.