Broadband speed is a hot topic in the UK. Some would say it is verging on becoming an obsession. So much of our lives are lived online now; from surfing social media and shopping to streaming TV shows and attending a virtual work meeting on Zoom. With so many devices in the home requiring an internet connection these days, having quick and reliable broadband is seen as a must-have. There are scores of providers out there and thousands of deals; but picking the right ones can be very confusing. Many of us are unsure as to what speed is good and what we actually need at home to meet our demands. Are we getting value for money? Here we’ll tell you all about how speed is measured, what speed you can get, and what speed you really need!
How Broadband Speed Is Measured
This is measured in ‘megabits’, usually expressed as mbps (megabits per second). Quite simply, the higher the speed, the quicker you can download and upload files, send emails and the higher the quality your streamed content will be.
What Speed Can I Get?
The average home speed in 2020 was 64 megabits per second. Over the past few years average speeds have tended to rise by around 18% a year. Technically, speeds of up to 516 mbps are currently viable but much depends on where you live and which provider you use. Urban areas are unsurprisingly better connected than rural, but even in remote areas you should be able to get 20-30 mbps. As a rule of thumb, if you’ve got 70 mbps, then you’re in a good place. If you’re experiencing issues like slow content download, or your streamed content is buffering or simply not running, then you’ve either got a technical issue, or you may need a deal with another provider. Importantly, know that while providers mention certain speeds, this is the maximum speed that you can get and this can fluctuate or be affected by external and internal factors.
How Do I Find Out My Speed?
A simple way to find out your current broadband speed is to run a speed test at home. There are lots of free sites online which can run a test for you in real time. You’ll need to either connect your laptop/tablet/phone to your router, or if you want to test wirelessly, get your device as near to the router as possible. Then press start and wait for the results. Which.co.uk have a great broadband checking tool.
What Speed Do I Need?
It all depends on your own requirements, how you use the internet and how big your household is.
Broadly, the guide is follows:
Light Users: 1-2 people, using the internet to send and receive emails, a little online shopping and banking and a small amount of browsing and social media. You only require a speed of around 10-12 mbps and a basic ADSL connection will work fine. ADSL sends and receives data over the old copper phone lines. It’s generally slower and less reliable than fibre and mobile broadband options but you’ll get a cheap deal.
Moderate Users: 3-4 people, making frequent use of the internet for browsing, surfing social media and streaming tv programmes and films, often doing it simultaneously on different devices. You’re going to need a stronger connection and should be looking at deals providing fibre-optic broadband at between 30-60 mbps.
Heavy Users: A household of 5 or more, with significant use of the internet (essentially houses where someone is always online), heavy duty gamers and tv/movie streamers. People working from home (even in smaller households) and needing to attend or host video meetings (Zoom etc) or sharing files peer-to-peer would also qualify as a heavy user. If you want to avoid issues with buffering or slow-downloading, especially at peak hours (4pm to 8pm), then a fibre-optic broadband connection of at least 64 mbps is a must. To eliminate problems in these types of households, aim for 100 mbps if you can!
When you think about the broadband speed you need, make sure you take into account the usage requirement of everyone in your house. If you’re unsure, always go for the better speed plan so all bases are covered and no-one ends up disappointed. If you’re reliant on the internet for your work, do not take any chances – constant issues will soon wear thin with your employer or your clients. There are a lot of deals out there; evaluate them carefully and choose the best one for your needs. Never pay over the odds for your data plan, either at home or for your mobile phone. If you’re happy with your handset, go online and get a great sim-only deal and get the data, minutes and texts you need and make great savings on your monthly costs.