How Much Internet Speed Do You Really Need?
Determine the level of service you actually require to avoid overpaying on this monthly expense.
A reliable internet connection is vital for most people to manage personal finances, work or study. When you sign up for internet service, you’ll be asked to choose a level of speed. No one wants to pay for more than they need, but service that’s too slow can create problems. Here are tips to help decide how much internet speed to get.
How internet speed is measured
When you compare plans, one of the first things you’ll notice is that they’re priced by Mbps—megabits per second. Mbps refers to how fast data can be downloaded or uploaded. The higher the Mbps, the faster you can do things online.
How much speed you need
The internet speed you need depends on your online activities, as well as how many devices you and other household members use at the same time. The good folks at Consumer Reports provide this free calculator that’s one of the best tools we found to determine the speed you need based on how you use the internet and your household devices.
The Consumer Reports calculator is a good starting point for determining how much internet speed you really need. Also consider the following:
- What type of work from home do you do? If your work from home relies mainly on email and messaging apps, low or medium internet speeds may do. For online video conferencing with screensharing you’ll want medium to fast service. If you transfer large files—like video and high-resolution images—or run multiple apps at once you’ll definitely want higher speeds.
- How many people and devices in your home use internet? The more people and devices using a single internet connection, the higher the speed you need. However, consider when internet service is used. If some family members mostly need internet during the day and others only in the evening, you may be okay with a low or medium speed plan. And, gaming will require faster speeds than basic things like email and web browsing.
- How old is your router? A router can’t make your internet speed any faster than what your plan allows. (You only get the speed that you pay for.) However, an older router can slow downloads, uploads and streaming.
- Can you try a plan and switch later? Often internet providers allow customers to adjust their plan. If yours does, you could try a slower-speed plan; if it serves your needs you’ll continue to save each month. If you determine you need higher internet speed you can upgrade knowing that you’re really using what you’re paying for.
Take a close look at your internet plan to see if you’re overpaying for this essential utility. If you decide to downgrade your plan, consider putting the difference in a savings account to help reach other money goals.
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