Here’s what you need to know about internet speed, or bandwidth. First of all, what is it? The metaphor for bandwidth is a water pipe. If you’re trying to fill a bucket it would take a lot longer to fill if the water pipe the size of a straw than if the pipe was seven inches across. If your trying to fill a lake, you’d want a pipe the size of a culvert! So if you’re trying to download a huge amount of information, you’d want a lot of bandwidth. This would include downloading large programs, large game files, downloading or uploading lots of business files, uploading videos, using a VPN, video conferencing, or using BitTorrent. You can get by with a much smaller pipe for ordinary household internet uses like web browsing, email, facebook, YouTube and Netflix.
Now, ISPs who are in the business of making profit of course want you to buy a lot of bandwidth because you’ll pay more money for it. They work very hard at selling you the idea of needing lots of internet speed. They talk about speed a lot. But here’s the secret they’re not telling you. They know you won’t actually be using it. In fact they’re so confident that you won’t be using it that they sell that same bandwidth (on the average) to nineteen other people. They bank on the fact that all twenty of you won’t want to use that bandwidth at the same time. They get by with it legally because they say “up to” so much bandwidth.
So how much bandwidth do people actually use? In 2016, the average bandwidth by American households usage per month was 190 Gigabytes according to one study. That works out to about 0.6 Megabits per second (600 Kilobits per second) if people were using it around the clock 24/7. But even if households were using the internet only one quarter of the day, the average speed would be only about 2.4 Megabits per second (Mbps). This pretty much correlates with the usage we see at Newport Wireless Mesh. Netflix recommends 3 to 5 Mbps for watching movies. Gaming takes 3-6 Mbps download and about 0.5 Mbps upload. Web browsing and YouTube videos generally need less than 1 Mbps. Of course several people in a home may be using the internet at the same time, but even so the total probably won’t go over 10 Mbps for most households. Keep in mind if you have a huge lake of data to download or upload, you will need that huge pipe, but most people can get by with much less.
So why do companies tell you that a family with lots of devices might need upwards of 200 Mbps? Well what do you think?