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What broadband speed do I need?

What broadband speed do I need?

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Last updated: 15 November 2021

The most basic broadband packages offer around 10Mbps of download speed, but we would never recommend these speeds here at usave, unless you have no other option where you live. 
 
Luckily, around 96% of UK households currently have access to 30Mbps and above, according to Ofcom. These speeds are sometimes referred to as superfast broadband speeds. We would recommend these speeds as a minimum, although larger households and those with online gamers will need even more.
 
If you’re not sure what sort of broadband speed you need, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll outline what kind of download speeds you should be aiming for depending on the size of your household and what you use the internet for. 

Best broadband speeds for different households:

Let’s take a look at a few different types of household and what broadband speeds we’d recommend for them. Use this as a helpful guide when you are looking for a new connection:

Best speeds for small households (1-2 people)

Recommended speed: 30Mbps

If you live alone and only use the internet occasionally to browse social media or send a few emails, then you may find that a basic, ADSL package offering 10-11Mbps will suffice. However, if you want to play online games or stream HD content, or you have another housemate online, this kind of speed will start to let you down.

If you live in a small household, we’d recommend you get at least 30Mbps of download speed. 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.

Here are some of the best broadband deals for small households:

BT Broadband

Fibre Essential

24 month contract Fibre

36Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£25.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

NOW Broadband

Fab Fibre (1 month)

1 month contract Fibre + Phone

36Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£20.00 / month

£65 upfront fees

Hyperoptic Broadband

Fast 30Mbps Broadband only

12 month contract Fibre

33Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£18.99 / month

£9.99 upfront fees

Best speeds for medium households (3-4people)

Recommended speed: 60Mbps

A household of 3-4 people is more likely to have more than one person online at the same time. Therefore, we’d recommend faster fibre speeds of around 60Mbps for these types of home, especially if you live in a student house or flatshare, or if you have teenage children.

However, if your medium households consists of two or more gamers, then you should consider even faster speeds for the best online experience.

Here are some of the best broadband deals for medium households:

Sky Broadband

Superfast 35 Broadband

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

36Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£30.50 / month

£0 upfront fees

Plusnet Broadband

Unlimited Fibre Extra

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

£75 Plusnet Reward Card

66Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£25.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

EE Broadband

Fibre Plus

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

67Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£27.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

Best speeds for large households (5+ people)

Recommended speed: 100Mbps

The more people you have living under one roof, the higher the broadband speed you’ll need for a good all-round experience. A large household is considered 5 or more people all simultaneously using the internet on multiple device and independently streaming, downloading, or uploading.

So, if you live in a large household with multiple internet users, we’d recommend you go for a package with at least 100Mbps of download speed. If only one of you is online at any one time, then a slower, cheaper package may suffice, but as soon as you all jump online together then your connection will slow down for everyone. Better to be safe with a faster connection than be frustrated with slow speeds.

Here are some of the best broadband deals for large households:

Virgin Media Broadband

M100 Fibre Broadband Only

18 month contract Fibre

108Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£44.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

BT Broadband

Full Fibre 100

24 month contract Fibre

£50 BT Virtual Reward Card

150Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£33.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

Vodafone Broadband

Superfast 100

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

100Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£25.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

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

Recommended speed for a household of 2: 50Mbps

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

Confused by what the numbers and acronyms above mean? Read our guide on the difference between a bit and a byte for more information.

What is a good broadband speed for video calling?

Recommended speed for a household of 2: 20Mbps

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!

Let's take a look at the minimum download and upload speeds you'd need for some of the most popular video-calling apps:

Service Minimum download speed Minimum upload speed
Zoom (1-on-1) 0.6Mbps 0.6Mbps
Zoom (Group calling) 1Mbps 0.8Mbps
Skype 0.128Mbps 0.128Mbps
Google Meet/Hangouts 1.8Mbps 3.2Mbps
Spotify (Mobile) 0.96Mbps

What is the best internet speed for gaming?

Recommended speed for a household of 2: 60Mbps

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 a connection 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 hyperfast or ultrafast fibre-optic internet. 

Here are the minimum download speeds you'll need to play online on your favourite console:

Platform Minimum download speed required
PlayStation (4/5) 3Mbps
Xbox (One, Series S, Series X) 3Mbps
PC/MAC 6Mbps
Nintendo Wii U 1.5Mbps
Nintendo Switch 3Mbps

To find out more about this, read our guide on what internet speed you need for gaming.

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

Recommended speed for a household of 2: 10Mbps

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

What is my broadband speed?

If you're unsure what internet speeds your current connection provides, the easiest way to find out is by using our broadband speed test. It's a free and simple service that will accurately tell you your download and upload speeds in a matter of seconds. 

You should then compare your results with the speeds you should be getting; if you can't remember what was advertised to you, have a look at any recent bills to see what plan you are on, or alternatively get in touch with your provider. 

If the speed test shows that you're getting lower speeds than you should be, you could be eligible to switch providers without incurring any fees. Use this guide to see which sort of speeds will be enough for you, then compare broadband deals with usave to find a package that meets those requirements. 

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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.