What Home Internet Speed Do I Need?

If your favorite Netflix show starts buffering the second anyone else gets online, your home internet speed isn’t fast enough. 

The good news is, there’s hope! No need to let the bandwidth hoggers of the world have all the fun. Read this guide and save yourself the hassle of Googling “what is a good internet speed for home?” the next time your screen freezes. 

What are the Differences Between Internet Speeds?

The best way to get high-speed internet at home (and the first step) is to understand the different terminology. Here’s a simple breakdown of common internet vocabulary you should know:

  • Download speed – measures how fast another server sends data to you (e.g., when you stream TV or listen to music).
  • Upload speed – measures how fast you send data to another server (e.g., when you play live video games or live video chat).
  • Symmetrical Bandwidth – refers to equal upload and download speeds—best for serious gamers.
  • Fiber – uses fiber-optic cables to transmit data instead of cable; known as the fastest internet speed for home.
  • Non-Fiber – includes other forms of internet service like cable, DSL, and satellite (which use a built-in cable infrastructure, phone jack, and satellite dish to function, respectively).
  • Mbps – stands for Megabits per second and measures internet speed (more Mbps = faster internet)

For a more in-depth look at internet terminology and what to look for when you switch internet service providers (ISPs), check out this guide on internet speed.

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Which Internet Speeds are Best for Different Activities?

All households are not created equal: what works for your neighbors might not work for you. The more devices and users that connect to your home internet, the more speed you’ll need. Whether you work from home and make daily video calls, frequently stream TV, listen to Spotify, or game online will all factor into your recommended speed.

Household ActivityRecommended Speed
Email + Social Media
(Facebook, Instagram, Gmail)
0.5–5 Mbps
Large File Downloads
(HD movies, Torrents)
5 Mbps (Slow)–50 Mbps (Fast)
Video Calls
(Facetime, Skype)
0.5 (Standard)–1.5 Mbps (HD)
(PS4, Xbox, PC)
2–10 Mbps
(Spotify, Pandora)
2 Mbps
Video Streaming
(Hulu, Netflix, Youtube)
1.5 Mbps (Low-definition)
3 Mbps (Standard)
5 Mbps (HD – 1080p)
25 Mbps (Ultra HD – 4k)

If you’re still wondering, “What home internet speed do I need?” run the home internet speed test below.

What is the Average Home Internet Speed?

According to Ookla (a home high-speed internet expert), the global average is 75.41 Mbps download speed, and 41.42 Mbps upload speed. In the US, the average home internet speed is 137.34 Mbps (more than twice as fast as the global average). 

What is a Good Download Speed for Home Internet?

What download speed you need depends largely on your daily activities. If you’re downloading large files like HD movies, RAW photos, or Torrents, you’ll need speeds up to 50 Mbps. For everyday activities, the lowest recommended download speeds are as follows:

  • Browsing and Email: 1 Mbps 
  • Casual Online Gaming: 5 Mbps
  • Streaming Video: 10 Mbps
  • Streaming Music: 1 Mbps

If you have multiple people streaming Netflix at home a day, you’ll need faster download speeds to avoid buffering.

How Can I Check my Home Internet Speed? 

HighSpeedInternet.com built a home internet speed test to calculate a recommended speed for your household. It’s quick and efficient—just answer a few questions and enter your zip code to receive your customized quote.

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How Can I Make my Home Internet Faster?

If you’ve researched home internet speeds, selected the ideal plan, and your internet still isn’t as fast as you’d like, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure you place your router in a centralized location without obstructions (keep it away from thick walls, metal, and your TV if you can). 

Second, make sure your Wi-Fi is password protected. The more people connected to your Wi-Fi, the slower it will be (don’t give your neighbors a free pass to your home internet). Third, viruses and malware also slow speeds, as well as auto-updating programs. Frequently check which systems are running on your computer and scan for malware to optimize speeds.

For more tips on how to make your home internet faster, check out this article.

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