When you sign up for an internet plan, the provider lists the maximum internet speeds that you could possibly experience, but there’s a possibility your speeds may be much slower than the maximum. That can be a huge bummer, especially if your daily activities, such as watching Netflix, video conferencing on Zoom, and playing online games, are disrupted. One quick way to check your internet speeds is to conduct an internet speed test. Once you know how fast your speeds are, then you can decide whether you want to switch plans or providers.

In this guide:

How to Check Internet Speed

Before you go complaining to your internet service provider, you’ll first want to check your current internet speeds. Testing your internet speeds has never been easier, thanks to our free internet speed test, which will give you your results within just a few seconds. The number you’ll see when you use our internet speed test is your download speed—if you want to see your upload speed and latency, click “Show More Info” beneath the result.

Generally speaking, making sure you have fast download speeds is a bit more important than having fast upload speeds—downloading is what we do when we browse social media, stream TV and movies, and stream and download music. Because of this, most internet plans include download speeds that are far faster than its upload speeds. That doesn’t necessarily mean fast upload speeds aren’t also valuable—group video calls and uploading files to Google Drive or Dropbox require adequate upload speeds. If you’re a gamer, you’ll want it all: fast download and upload speeds, as well as low latency. Simply put, latency is how long it takes for a signal to travel to your ISP’s server and back to your device, like your desktop or smartphone. As such, you’ll want low latency, aka a shorter lag—generally, under 100 milliseconds is fine but gamers may want 30 milliseconds or lower.

What is a Good Internet Speed?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a broadband internet connection, also known as high speed internet, is required to have a minimum download speed of 25Mbps and upload of 3Mbps. As such, 25Mbps or faster download speeds are generally considered good. At this speed, you’ll be able to browse the internet, send email, download music, stream videos on popular services like Netflix and Hulu, and play games online.

Download speeds of about 100Mbps and higher are often considered to be very fast internet because they are often best suited for multiple devices and multiple people connecting to the internet at once. Typically, upload speeds of 10Mbps or higher are fast upload speeds as they are capable of handling many activities, such as HD video calling and uploading large files, such as videos.

There are several different kinds of connection types, and each one offers varying internet speeds. Check out the table below to compare internet connection types and their corresponding speeds.

Internet Connection Type Download Speed Latency
Satellite 12-100Mbps (depending on location) 300-500 ms
DSL 1-100Mbps 35-60 ms
Cable 10-1,000Mbps 24-35 ms
Fiber Up to 2,000Mbps <20 ms

What is a Slow Internet Speed?

Slow internet speeds are any speed slower than the FCC’s broadband requirement—speeds below 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload. While speeds below this benchmark won’t necessarily interfere with one person’s internet use, it could get tricky with two or more people or devices connecting to the internet—especially with high-demand activities, such as HD video streaming and online gaming.

What Internet Speed Do I Need?

When it comes to deciding what internet speeds are right for you and your family, you’ll need to do some quick calculations. Generally, the more people and devices sharing the internet connection, the faster speeds you’ll need. Likewise, the more high-demand activities you’ll be using the internet for, the faster internet speeds necessary.

# of Users or Devices Light Use (basic functions, such as internet browsing, email) Moderate use (basic + one high-demand activity, like Netflix, video conferencing) Heavy use (basic + two high-demand activities running simultaneously)
1 3-8Mbps 3-8Mbps 12-25Mbps
2 3-8Mbps 12-25Mbps 25Mbps+
3 12-25Mbps 12-25Mbps 50Mbps+
4 12-25Mbps 25Mbps+ 100Mbps+

Note: The above are the FCC’s recommendations but at Let’s Talk, we actually think these estimates are a bit low. If you live in a household of two or more people, it may be safe to get a 100Mbps plan, especially if people plan on streaming video in HD.

Good Internet Speeds for Streaming

These streaming speeds apply to a single person on a single device. Any more than that and the minimum requirement will increase.

  • Netflix: 3Mbps for SD, 5Mbps for HD
  • Hulu: 3Mbps for library, 8Mbps for live stream
  • Amazon Prime Video: 900Kbps for SD, 5Mbps for HD
  • HBO Go: 3Mbps+
  • Showtime: 800Kbps for smartphones, 3Mbps for computers and TVs
  • Disney+: 500Kbps for SD, 5Mbps for HD
  • YouTube (TV or computer): 3Mbps for SD, 5Mbps for HD

Good Internet Speeds for Video Conferencing

As for video streaming, doing virtual happy hours or holding group video conferences for work is going to require much faster speeds than the minimum video conferencing speeds below.

  • Zoom: 1.5Mbps
  • GoToMeeting: 1Mbps
  • FaceTime: 128Kbps
  • Google Hangouts: 2Mbps
  • Skype: 512Kbps
  • Facebook Video: 500Kbps

Good Internet Speeds for Gaming

Every gaming console is different but the bare minimum download speeds, no matter whether you’re on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch, is 3Mbps, while the minimum upload is 1Mbps and maximum latency is 150 milliseconds. Again, you’re probably going to need speeds far faster than the minimum if you’re going to have an optimal gaming experience.

Cheap High Speed Internet

If you conducted an internet speed test and are not happy with the download and upload speeds you’re currently getting, it may be time to upgrade your plan. If you are on a 50Mbps plan but your speeds are closer to 25Mbps, you may want to consider switching to an internet plan with speeds of 100Mbps or higher. And don’t be intimidated—faster doesn’t always mean more expensive. There are plenty of cheap high speed internet plans between $30/month and $60/month.