Internet Speed Test
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How does my internet speed compare to other providers in my area?
What is my internet speed?
Are your internet speeds as fast as what you’re paying for? It’s easy to check up on what speeds your internet provider is actually delivering to your home. So, before you call your internet company to complain about slow internet, take a one-minute internet speed test.
Most providers deliver speeds close to what they advertise—although speeds aren’t actually guaranteed. That’s why you’ll see internet companies advertising “speeds up to.”
If your internet isn’t delivering speeds close to advertised speeds, find out what’s causing the problem. It could be caused by something on your end or on the internet provider’s end.
Internet speeds often vary throughout the day, so test your internet speed several times during the day to get a good indication of the average speeds you’re getting from your internet provider. Keep in mind that evening and weekend speeds might be slower.
If your speeds are consistently a lot lower than what you’re paying for, check out the internet speed troubleshooting tips below. And if nothing is helping to restore speeds, contact your internet provider to find out what’s wrong.
Low internet speeds could be caused by any of the following:
- Experiencing Wi-Fi network problems (maybe you’re too far from your router, or your network is struggling to keep up with your internet activities)
- Going over your monthly data cap (this is common with satellite internet plans)
- Having outdated equipment or needing to update your modem firmware
- Living in an area that is oversubscribed and subject to slowing during peak traffic times
- Having multiple devices connected to your Wi-Fi
How to get the best speed test results
- Switch off other devices. When testing your internet speed, we recommend turning off all other devices in your home that access the internet. This includes laptops, phones, desktop computers, tablets, wearables, gaming systems, smart appliances, security systems, smart TVs, DVRs, and more. Each device eats up some of the bandwidth, so it’s best to disconnect everything temporarily to get a clear indication of the speed your internet provider is delivering.
- Use an Ethernet cable. It’s also a good idea to test your internet using both your home Wi-Fi network and a wired connection to your modem. Use an Ethernet cable plugged into your modem and your computer to run the wired connection test. Then connect to your home Wi-Fi network to test your Wi-Fi speed. Compare the tests to see if you’re having problems with your Wi-Fi network, which could be a sign you need a better router.
- Reset your modem. If your speeds are slower than expected, unplug your modem/router and wait a few minutes. Then plug it in again. This will reset your modem (also known as power cycling). Sometimes this helps restore normal speeds. Try it before a speed test for best results.
Internet speed and data recommendations
It’s easy to overspend on internet speed plans. (How many people really use the full power of their 2,000 Mbps plan? Very few.) It’s also possible to skimp too much on your internet plan and end up with a sluggish connection that can’t support video calls, or that times out when you’re trying to make a purchase online.
Recommended download speed
A download speed of at least 25 Mbps is the threshold for what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers broadband internet. Anything below this will perform noticeably slow, even if you’re just browsing the internet.
As far as upload speeds go, you can probably get by with lower upload speeds. Most households need a minimum of 3 Mbps upload to participate in video calls and upload images to social media. But gaming or uploading large files to the cloud requires faster upload speeds.
At SatelliteInternet.com, we recommend getting an internet plan with a download speed of at least 25 Mbps and upload speed of 3 Mbps. For best results, throw in an extra 10–15 Mbps for each person in the household.
Living in the country? We get that. We like fresh air and lots of space, too. You can find out the best internet options for rural areas in our guide.
If you have several people in your household, multiple devices, or a penchant for heavy internet usage, you’ll need faster speeds. Each device connected to the internet will eat up some of the bandwidth your connection delivers, so the more devices you have, the faster your speed needs to be.
How much internet speed do I need?
The amount of internet speed you need depends on how many people are in your household, how many devices you want to connect to the internet simultaneously, and what kind of activities you want to do. Simple actions like Google searching and email checking require the least amount of speed, while 4K video streaming and online multiplayer gaming (especially competitive) require the most.
There's also a difference between download speed and upload speed. Download speed is what most providers and people are talking about when they discuss internet speed, but upload speed can be important too if you want to perform activities like uploading YouTube videos or livestreaming. More on that below.
Here's a quick look at common internet activities and their matched internet speed ranges.
Internet speed (download)
What can you do online
Checking email and social mediaSearching on GoogleStreaming music
Streaming SD or HD video on a few devicesPlaying online games with one playerMaking video calls on Zoom
Streaming 4K video on two or three devicesPlaying online games with multiple playersDownloading large files
Operating multiple smart-home devicesStreaming 4K video on more than three devicesDownloading large files quickly
Streaming, gaming, calling, and surfing the internet simultaneously from 5+ devices.
What is a good Mbps?
If you're just looking for a general internet speed you need to shoot for, 25Mbps is what the Federal Communications (FCC) calls broadband or high-speed internet, but the average internet speed in a US household is 50Mbps, according to the FCC.
We generally suggest shooting for 100Mbps of speed for a family of four. That should keep you all connected to the internet simultaneously without interruptions, but if you enjoy high-bandwidth activities like those mentioned in the table above, shoot for at least 500Mbps to avoid massive network congestion and slowdowns.
What is a good download speed?
Download speed is what most people should be concerned with when they've asking themselves "why is my internet so slow?" We download data from the internet more than uploading to it, so our ranges from the table above are most likely the answers you're looking for.
That said, a good download speed is generally 25Mbps–100Mbps for most people.
That range should cover 1–4 people in a household with an average number of devices who like to do everything from checking email to streaming TV. But if you have more people in your house simultaneously connected to the internet, or you're a heavy streamer and gamer, you'll want something closer to 200Mbps–500Mbps, just to avoid any internet slowness interrupting your good times.
What is a good upload speed?
Upload speeds are rarely symmetrical with download speeds, partially because few internet technologies are capable of offering that feature. Fiber internet can combat this kind of internet slowness and offer upload speeds that are just as fast as its blazing fast download speeds—but they often don't.
Fortunately, you don't need big-number upload speeds. We'd say anywhere between 5–10Mbps upload speed should make sure you're never running into slow internet upload issues.
However, if you're a content creator who uploads large videos or livestreams—the heaviest upload speed activities—you'll want a minimum of 10Mbps upload speed to avoid hours spent waiting for your videos to upload, or cutting out repeatedly on your livestreams.
How do you speed up satellite internet?
Satellite internet is a special breed in the industry, so it's never quite as fast as land-based alternatives. But never fear! Here are our top three tips for increasing your satellite internet speed.
Check your monthly data usage.
Although providers often say they offer unlimited satellite internet, they only do so technically. By that we mean these providers don't cut you off when you exceed your monthly data limit; you're just downsized from priority data (full-speed data) to standard data (slower data). If you've exceeded your monthly provider's data limit, your speeds could easily be slowed.
Fortunately, you can always buy more HughesNet data or purchase more Viasat data if either is your provider. Starlink has more generous data caps than either, so you probably won't run out of that one, but you can buy more Starlink data if you need, as well.
Check your satellite dish.
If you've had a storm recently, you and satellite dish has dirt, branches, leaves, or other debris on it, carefully remove it. Debris can interrupt your signal and cause slowdowns.
Reset your modem/router.
Modems and routers need a break just like any machine. If your speeds seem to be slower than usual, try unplugging your modem/router and give it a couple minutes break before plugging it back in. That should get out all the cobwebs and help your internet connection start afresh.
Upgrade your package.
It could be that you've just got a slower speed plan than you need for your daily activities. 25Mbps might be just fine for one or two people who use the internet mostly for email or posting on Facebook, but if you like streaming movies and downloading all kinds of files, it might just be time to get that plan with a higher Mbps.
For more detailed options, check out our Internet Troubleshooting guide.
Do I need a faster router?
If you're wondering how to fix slow internet, your router needs to be on your checklist.
But before you can tell whether you need a faster router or not, you need to understand a few things. First, a router is different than your modem, which translates your internet provider's signal into an internet connection you can hardwire into. Your router connects to that modem and turns your hardwired internet connection into a wireless connection: Wi-Fi. So all in all, you always need both a modem and router, which is usually called a gateway or modem/router combo.
That means to tell whether only your router is the problem with your slow internet speeds, you can just check your Wi-Fi. If you plug your laptop in with an ethernet cable, and you see vastly faster speeds, you know there's an issue with your router. To be clear, Wi-Fi is always a bit slower than ethernet connections, but the bigger the difference you see between Wi-Fi and ethernet connection speeds, the more likely the issue is with your router.
Your third step here is to start researching new routers. A new router will never make your internet speed faster than the plan you've signed up for, but it can make sure you're getting all the internet speed you've paid for. Check out our Best Routers and Modem for Satellite Internet guide if you have a satellite provider.
What to look for in a router
To avoid a slow internet connection, we recommend Netgear and Asus routers that have dual bands (2.5 is better for long-range connections, and 5.0 for short range), docsis 3.1 (the latest security protocol), and Wi-Fi 6 generation technology.
How much data do you need?
Speed and data matter, especially with rural internet options or budget plans in the city where plans restrict data. For example, most “unlimited” satellite internet plans limit your access to full-speed data. They’re unlimited in the sense that you can still access the internet after you go over your data cap, but your speeds can be throttled down to 1 to 3 Mbps if you exceed your data limit.
Slow satellite internet speeds are most commonly caused by exceeding your data cap. Satellite services limit the amount of full-speed data, even on unlimited plans. Once you go over your monthly allotment, your speeds will be throttled.
Recommended internet speed by activity
Household data usage varies, but it has climbed sharply since the COVID-19 pandemic. The average household data usage in 2020 averaged about 344 GB per month but spiked to over 400 GB some months.1 Some households use far more or less data than average. The more devices and people you have using the internet simultaneously, the more speed you’ll need and the more data you’ll burn through.
Video streaming (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.):
- 1–2 devices: SD (DVD quality): 10 Mbps | HD: 50 Mbps
- 3–4 devices: SD (DVD quality): 50 Mbps | HD: 100+ Mbps
- 1–2 devices: 5 Mbps
- 2–4 devices: 25 Mbps
- 1–2 devices: 3–5 Mbps
- 2–4 devices: 10+ Mbps
- 1–2 devices: 25 Mbps
- 2–4 devices: 75+ Mbps
Calculating monthly data needs
Different activities online burn through different amounts of data. To find out how much data your household will need each month, use the chart below to estimate your data needs.
Data use per hour
|Internet browsing||0.01–0.02 GB|
|Music streaming||0.15 GB|
|Social media||0.15 GB|
|Video call (two people)||0.06–0.56 GB|
|Video conference calls (data use increases with each video participant)||0.8–2.4 GB|
|Streaming video in SD (480p)||700 MB|
|Streaming video in HD||3 GB|
|Streaming video in UHD (4K)||7 GB|
|Video game downloads||1–20 GB|
|Basic online gaming||0.01 GB|
|Multiplayer online gaming||0.06 GB|
How to understand your speed test results
Your speed test results include three critical components:
- Your download speed tells you how fast you can access information from another server with your internet connection. When you click on a link to display a web page, open an email, or stream a video on YouTube, you’re using download speed. The server must download the information to display it on your computer or device.
- Your upload speed indicates how quickly you can send information to a server. Your upload speed really matters when you share photos or videos on social media, send emails, or transfer files or data.
- Your latency tells you how long of a delay your internet connection has and is measured in milliseconds (ms). You don’t want high latency—the lower, the better!
How an internet speed test works
To test your internet connection speeds, a server sends an empty (harmless) file to your computer. Then, the server requests the file back. Download, upload, and latency are measured this way.
Need more speed?
Internet companies generally offer a variety of speed tiers. Some rural providers offer faster speeds and more data than others. If your internet speed isn’t fast enough, or you’re hitting your data cap every month, find out what other internet plans are offered at your address.
Internet speed test FAQ
What is a normal internet speed?There's no "normal" internet speed so to speak, but 25Mbps is what the Federal Communications Commission has deemed broadband speed, also known as the minimum for high-speed internet.
How much internet speed do I need?
Most average households (1–4 people) need only 25Mbps–100Mbps to enjoy things from basic internet browsing to TV streaming. But if your household likes bandwidth-hogging activities like competitive online games, 4K TV streaming, or livestreaming, you'll need to up yourself to the 200Mbps—500Mbps range (or more, depending on how many people are in your house doing the same internet-guzzling activities).
Why is my internet so slow?
Internet slowness occurs for multiple reasons. Here's a list of the most likely contenders:
- Your modem/router needs to be unplugged or reset
- You're using an outdated modem/router and need to upgrade
- You've exceeded your monthly priority data limit and are experiencing internet throttling
- If you have satellite internet, your satellite equipment could have been damaged
- Your internet activities don't match the speeds in your internet package, and you need to upgrade
- You could be in an outage
- Your internet service provider (ISP) could be experiencing issues on their end, so you need to call customer service and reconfigure your connection.
- If you have a cable ISP, and you experience internet slowness whenever you get home from work, you could be experiencing network congestion from everyone in your neighborhood using the shared network infrastructure at the same time. You can't do anything about this one except get a higher speed plan to try and make up for the speed congestion slowdown will always cause at these times.
What is the fastest type of satellite internet?
Satellite internet comes in two different tech types: Geostationary (GEO) satellites or low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. GEO satellites have better coverage and are therefore their service is available more places, but LEO satellites tend to be faster and have lower latency because they're not as far away, so the internet signal doesn't has to travel as far as it does with GEO satellites.
For the record, Project Kuiper, OneWeb, and Starlink are all LEO satellite providers, but their availability is limited (Project Kuiper isn't available at all yet, either). Viasat and HughesNet use GEO satellites, so they have 99% availability across the US. Many of their internet plans have slower internet speeds than the LEO satellite competitors, but Viasat and HughesNet are both launching next-generation GEO satellites in 2023, so their satellite speeds are expected to increase.
Do internet speed tests really work?Internet speed tests do work and are generally pretty accurate, but none can perfectly determine your internet speed. That's why most internet speed tests suggest taking the speed test a few times a day and averaging your results to get the best overall look at your internet speed. We suggest doing this with ours, also.
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