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Last updated: 05/06/2024 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

What broadband speed do I need?

When choosing a broadband package, speed is one of the main things you will need to consider. However, many consumers don’t know what broadband speed is or how many Mbps they’ll need when setting up broadband for their home or office. Our guide takes a look at broadband speed to help you understand how it works and what speed you’ll need.

In This Guide:

What is broadband speed?

When we talk about broadband speed, we’re referring to how quickly data can be uploaded or downloaded when using an internet connection.

Most individuals focus on download speeds when they compare broadband packages. This is because the average user will download more data than they upload. Downloads can refer to files that contain music, movies or photos.

Businesses may need to consider fast download speeds as well as fast upload speeds because they are more likely to upload and share large files frequently.

How is broadband speed measured?

Broadband speed is measured in Mbps (megabits per second) and Kbps (kilobits per second). A bit is the smallest unit of data that can be transferred so when it comes to calculating speed the higher the number of bits per second, the faster your broadband connection will be. Kbps and Mbps measures are:

  • 1 Kbps: 1,000 bits per second
  • 1 Mbps: 1,000,000 bits per second

When comparing broadband deals, pay attention to how many Kbps or Mbps you get and at what cost.

How do I know what my current broadband speed is?

Before figuring out how much broadband speed you need, you may want to confirm your current connection speed (if you already have an internet connection, that is). This can give you a good indication what you might want and how much faster your broadband needs to be to adequately meet your needs.

There are two ways to determine your current broadband speed:

  • You can look at your current agreement with your provider. Your monthly bill should reflect the minimum speed you are getting. Alternatively, you can phone your supplier and they will give you this information.
  • You can do a speed test online. There are many websites that allow you to test your broadband speed.  These tests work by sending data to and from a main server. They then time how quickly the data completes the round-trip. The result give you the exact current speed of your internet connection.

It’s good practice to regularly test the speed of your broadband connection. This way, you can always make sure that you are getting what you pay for.

ADSL vs fibre optic broadband

If you are wondering if there is a difference between standard broadband (ADSL) and fibre optic broadband, the answer is “yes”.

ADSL relies on pre-existing copper phone lines to transfer information. Fibre optic broadband, on the other hand, uses fibre optic cables to send and receive data as flashes of light. These flashes of light result in a quicker and more reliable connection.

ADSL can still provide a fast-enough connection for a small household or office, however, and it has the advantage that it’s more readily available. Optic fibre is relatively new to the market and there are many locations that don’t yet have access to this service.

How much speed do I need?

A good broadband speed will depend on your personal preferences and how you use the internet. Typically, you can divide internet users and their speed requirements into 3 categories:

  • Light users: If you need a broadband connection to check your emails, do your online banking, and browse just a little, then you are a light user and your broadband speed can be kept minimal.
  • Medium users: If you use the internet frequently for social media, browsing the net, and catching up on the latest episode of your favourite series over and above the internet basics, then you’re considered a medium user. Medium users will need a slightly faster connection than light users.
  • Heavy users: If you use the internet for a significant amount of time, then you can be considered a heavy user. Heavy users are those who do peer-to-peer file sharing, online gaming or stream films and music.

To determine how much broadband speed you need, you may also want to consider the usage requirement of everyone in your household or office. This is because the number of people using the connection can affect the overall broadband speed.

It’s important to note that while broadband deals mention certain speeds, this isn’t necessarily the speed you will get. The measurement advertised is the maximum speed that will be available to you and there are many internal and external factors that could reduce the final speed-type you receive.

What is a good broadband speed?

A good internet speed is one that averages above 25 Mbps. This is enough speed to support modest online activity for a small family or office. This type of speed will support HD streaming, online gaming, music downloads, and general web browsing.

Faster broadband speeds are measured above 100 Mbps. This speed is recommended to those who have larger households or offices or if the connection needs to support many users or devices at once.

How can I compare broadband quotes?

Before making your purchase, it’s wise to compare quotes from different providers to find a deal that is both suited to your needs and your budget. You can use our online quote comparison tool to save time when sourcing the best broadband deals. Simply fill in just a few of your details and we will request quotes from service providers in your area on your behalf. We’ll then send you quotes in a user-friendly format so that you can research the information to make your ultimate choice.