Home Internet: How Fast is Fast Enough, is Faster Better?

Over the last decade, quality high-speed internet has become a requirement. Shockingly, high-speed plans used to be 200mbps. Nowadays, you can get up to 1200mbps (or 1.2 Gig). If you’re unfamiliar with “Mbps,” it’s a measurement unit that describes your internet speed. The higher the number, the more data you can receive in a single second. We love that our customers can easily access fast internet. Internet providers like Comcast have been pushing customers to switch to even faster plans, like their new 1200mbps plan.

We would generally advise most people to sign up for a 300-500mbps plan. Most of our customers would struggle to use more. We would hate seeing our customers pay for speeds they can’t use. If you aren’t experiencing slowdowns with a lower-speed plan, then upgrading to a faster plan would bring no noticeable improvement besides a larger bill! Before considering the higher monthly cost of upgrading your speed, you should determine if the higher speed will make a noticeable difference.

Why You Should Keep or Lower Your Home Internet Speed

  1. If you like to browse the web, check your email and stream audio or video content, then you wouldn’t take advantage of ultra-high internet speeds. A single 4K video stream only takes about 25mbps. If five people were streaming 4K and a sixth person was browsing the web, you would not experience any slowdowns with a consistent 200mbps connection. Even a Zoom meeting won’t exceed a measly 4mbps!
  2. Most wireless home networks can’t reliably support these ultra-high speeds. In real-world scenarios, 2.4 GHz wifi networks are only capable of up to about 450mbps. Most modern devices will connect to a 5Ghz or Wifi 6 network. Although those can theoretically reach 1000mbps and higher, it generally doesn’t in real-world examples.
  3. How well your internet is distributed is far more important than the theoretical max speed. A well-designed home network with a “slow” plan will almost always surpass a poor network with a high-speed plan. A poor network has one wireless router and maybe a few wireless extenders. A quality network has strategically placed wired access points, hard-wired connections for all your non-moving devices (TV, desktop computer, etc.) and no wireless repeaters because they won’t be necessary.
  4. The number of devices doesn’t dictate your required speed. Even if you have a bunch of security cameras and smart devices, you don’t necessarily need to scale your network speed to support it. You may need a more robustly-designed network. Most of these devices use a tiny amount of data every now and then. Even cameras that stream 24/7 may use roughly 5mbps each. At that rate, a home with 20 streaming cameras would use 100mbps. A 200mbps plan would still allow you to reliably play three 4K streams!
  5. The hardware in your network can limit your internet speeds. We generally build homes to support 1000mbps. If you want your home to support plans like Comcast’s new 1200mbps, your entire home network has to be built under the 2.5Gbps standard.
  6. Don’t pay a monthly premium for higher internet speeds you won’t utilize.
Labeled wiring in a SoundVision network rack.

Most of our customers would be happy with a 400mbps plan. That’s plenty of speed for everyone in the family to stream, support a few cameras, and casually browse the web without any slowdowns. For all of those activities, a robust network is far more important. If you’re looking for a reliable network to support your home network needs, feel free to call us.

That’s not to say nobody would want an ultra-fast internet connection. There are a few reasons why you’d want something faster.

When to Increase Your Internet Speed

  1. If you regularly download or transfer large files, you’ll really appreciate a fast connection. Large files would include entire photo libraries, a collection of home movies, work applications and some more graphically intense games.
  2. Modern gaming consoles rely on the internet to download games and updates, even for disk-based games. These files are quite large and of course, they’ll need to be updated at the most inconvenient times! A fast internet connection will drastically shorten the time you’ll have to wait.
  3. If you have a server that you back up to the cloud, a faster internet connection will ensure you can back up and restore in a timely manner. Depending on the size of your server, a slow internet connection can leave your server unable to back up at the rate you make changes to it!

If you need more help deciding what your network speed should be, tell us about your usage on this form or give us a call at 415-456-7000.

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