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What broadband speed do I need?

Broadband deals advertise internet speeds in terms of megabits per second (Mbps).

Last updated: 18 January 2021

What broadband speed do I need?
Broadband deals advertise internet speeds in terms of megabits per second (Mbps). But such terms can feel fairly abstract, so this guide can help you apply them to your life. 

We’re here to help you determine what broadband speed you actually need for your usage and household. 

What broadband speed do I need for streaming films and TV?

Streaming TV and films are now staple pastimes of our entertainment. What internet speed you need depends, in part, on the streaming platform you’re using and whether you’re after HD viewing.

We’ve outlined the minimum speeds you’ll need for streaming content from your favourite services.

Streaming service

Non-HD

HD

Ultra HD

Amazon Prime Video

0.9Mbps

3.5Mbps

25Mbps

BBC iPlayer

1.5Mbps

2.8Mbps

Not yet available

YouTube

2.5Mbps

4Mbps

15Mbps

Netflix

3Mbps

5Mbps

25Mbps

What is a good broadband speed for video calling?

Coronavirus has thrown video calling into the limelight as a necessity. Where before we may have occasionally Skyped or Facetimed family far away, or dialled-in to a meeting from home, a huge proportion of us now depend on video calls to allow our daily lives to function.

With video calls, your device uploads information as well as downloads it – that is, it transmits your data as well as receives it from the recipient(s). Upload speeds are typically slower than download speeds.

How many people are on the video call will also determine what speeds you need – we’ve all experienced someone’s unflattering lag on that Zoom quiz or conference call!

For Zoom, Skype and Facetime, the recommended minimum speed is 1.5Mbps. For HD or group calls, you’re looking at a download speed of 2.5Mbps and upload speed of 3Mbps.

What is the best internet speed for gaming?

Gaming is in its own league when it comes to broadband speed requirements. Online games demand huge quantities of data to be downloaded and uploaded in real time, as well as data-intensive updates.

If you’ve got a heavy gamer in your house, you’ll need to reconsider what broadband speeds you require. When it comes to choosing a broadband deal, it’s not just about the number of occupants, but also what said occupants are doing with the internet. 4K streaming requires equally fast speeds.

Certainly, not every household will be the same, but as a rule of thumb look for broadband deals with speeds of around 30Mbps higher than the package you’d otherwise choose. And that’s for each individual who games or 4k streams – so if there’s more than one gamer in the house you’ll probably want to look at superfast fibre-optic broadband deals

Read our guide on broadband for gamers to find out more.

What download speed do I need for streaming and downloading music?

Much like video services, music download and streaming speed requirements depend on the platform, quality, and device in question. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular services. Songs and albums are much smaller files than TV shows and films, so don’t demand such high speeds.

Service

Minimum speed for normal quality

Spotify (Desktop)

0.16Mbps

Apple Music (iTunes)

0.256Mbps

Google Play Music

0.32Mbps

Amazon Music Unlimited

0.5Mbps

Spotify (Mobile)

0.96Mbps

Best broadband speeds for different households:

Let’s take a look at a few different types of household and what broadband speeds they’d typically require. Use this as a helpful guide when you compare broadband deals.

Best speeds for small (1-2 person) households

A small household refers to a single or couple who are the sole internet users of the house – this can, therefore, include families with young children. If you use the internet for browsing, working, and streaming content together rather than separately, then you’ll be grand with a standard broadband connection with average speeds of 10-11Mbps.

Best speeds for medium (3-4 person) households

A 3-4 person household could be a family with teenage children, or adults living together. Occupants may each have a number of devices (laptops; smart phones) and may stream content both independently and simultaneously. As long as none of them are an online gamer or 4k streamer, an entry-level fibre-optic package should suffice for this household – one with speeds of 35Mbps – 64Mbps.

Ideal broadband speed for larger households

A large household is considered 5 or more people all simultaneously using the internet on multiple devices and independently streaming, downloading, or uploading. These households need a superfast fibre-optic broadband deal with speeds above 65Mbps. If only one person games online or streams in 4k that should be fine, however you may want to upgrade to Ultrafast broadband to be absolutely safe. 

Read our guide on finding the best broadband for families to find our more.

Danny Lord

Author: Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.

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