In today’s interconnected online world, most people just assume higher, faster, more efficient Internet connectivity (a.k.a. bandwidth) is always the best option. In reality, however, most people only utilize a relatively small percentage of their broadband or DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) capability.
Unless you’re uploading and downloading video, audio and image files all day, every day-which some people do-the fact is you probably don’t need as much broadband access as you may think.
Granted, commercial high speed Internet service and residential high speed Internet service can vary considerably, but generally your home or small business shouldn’t require the kind of speed or bandwidth associated with a larger business or information technology (IT) company.
It’s important to remember there’s a difference between Internet “speed” and “bandwidth.” Speed is how fast a connection exists between your Internet provider and your home. Bandwidth refers to how much data back-and-forth capacity your Internet connection can handle. So, when you’re talking about “broadBAND,” you’re referring to “BANDwidth.”
For example, you can have incredibly high speed Internet access into your home, but if you piggyback too many connection tasks on top of one another-like streaming multiple videos while downloading and uploading music files, and playing online games simultaneously-you can exhaust your bandwidth capacity, so your “speed” can appear to slow to a crawl, and suddenly you see “buffering” notifications instead of streaming video. Therefore, your reliable Internet speed depends on how much bandwidth your Internet provider allows, and that depends on the connectivity package you opt for.
Obviously, bandwidth needs vary considerably. As an example, for graphic-intensive massive online role-playing games, high bandwidth connections are a basic necessity, particularly in households where multiple gamers are playing at the same time. Those same households are usually the ones downloading music files, uploading video files and basically choking the bandwidth pipeline. Some broadband providers can offer bandwidth with speeds of 15 or 25 megabits per second (Mbps) via cable access, 150 Mbps via Fiber, or up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) via long term evolution (LTE) access. 1 Gbps is, to put it mildly, A LOT. That’s probably way more than any household would currently require.
For households in the real world within what would be considered the “high bandwidth necessity spectrum,” a more realistic and reasonable target would be around 7 to 20 Mbps. Provided there aren’t too many concurrent upload and download tasks taking place, this should provide more than enough bandwidth and speed to keep even the most avid online gamers happy.
For more modest residential Internet needs, such as streaming audio and video and image uploading and downloading, speeds between anywhere from 2 to 10 Mbps should suffice, although those numbers can vary between households.
If your home Internet needs consist of simple e-mails or other personal communications such as texting or instant messaging, then you wouldn’t require much bandwidth leeway at all and could subsist on 1 Mbps or less, depending on whether your personal communications include file attachments.
Of course, your Internet needs inevitably evolve over time. If you graduate from modest texting and instant messaging to immersing yourself in a role-playing game as a high-level dwarf attempting to conquer a large swath of territory in the name of your gods, your bandwidth and speed requirements will increase considerably. Before setting forth to conquer worlds in cyber space, ensure you have the capability and capacity to head into the mystic realms far and beyond simple computing needs!