Now that you’re spending a lot more time at home quarantining or social distancing, you may find that your internet speeds aren’t necessarily up to par—whether your Netflix is frequently buffering or your virtual happy hours on Zoom are breaking up, we can help you find the internet speeds you need, as well as the best internet plan for you.

In this article:

How Many Mbps Do You Need?

Activity Mbps
Online browsing, email, social media 1Mbps
Video conferencing 1-3Mbps
SD video streaming 3-4Mbps
HD video streaming 5-25Mbps
Online gaming 3-6Mbps*

*When it comes to online gaming, low latency is more important than internet speeds.

What Internet Speeds Do You Need for Netflix?

Generally speaking, higher quality Netflix video will require faster internet speeds. Netflix recommends speeds of at least 3Mbps for standard-definition video streaming and 5Mbps for high-definition streaming. Below are the full recommendations:

  • Minimum required speed: .5Mbps
  • Recommended broadband connection speed: 1.5Mbps
  • Recommended for SD: 3Mbps
  • Recommended for HD: 5Mbps
  • Recommended for Ultra HD: 25Mbps

In order to watch Netflix in HD, you must have an HD plan. Once you have an HD plan then you’ll have to set your video quality setting to Auto or High. Keep in mind, however, that HD-quality streaming on Netflix uses more data than SD or lower—about 3GB/hour for HD vs 1GB/hour on SD. If you are concerned about reaching your data cap during a particular month, you can always temporarily change your video quality settings to Low or Medium to conserve data.

Which Netflix Subscription Do You Need?

Just because HD video is all the rage nowadays doesn’t mean you should automatically sign up for an HD Netflix plan. If you plan on watching Netflix on your smartphone, an SD subscription should be sufficient for your streaming needs.

Below are the recommended data speeds for other popular video streaming apps:

  • Hulu
    • 3Mbps for streaming the Hulu library
    • 8Mbps for live streams
    • 16Mbps for 4K content
  • Amazon Prime Video
    • 900Kbps for SD
    • 5Mbps for HD
  • YouTube on phones
    • 500Kbps for SD
    • 7Mbps for HD
  • YouTube on computers or TV
    • 3Mbps for SD
    • 5Mbps for HD
    • 25Mbps for Ultra HD
  • Showtime
    • 800Kbps for smartphones
    • 3Mbps for computers and TVs
  • Disney+
    • 500Kbps for SD
    • 5Mbps for HD
    • 10Mbps for Ultra HD
  • HBO Go: 3Mbps+

What Internet Speeds Do You Need for Video Conferencing?

If you’re working remotely or hosting and attending virtual happy hours, you’ll want to make sure your internet is fast enough for video conferencing. Here are the minimum speeds for popular video conferencing apps:

  • Zoom: Minimum 600Kbps, 1.5Mbps recommended
  • Skype: Minimum 512Kbps
  • Google Hangouts: Minimum 2Mbps
  • FaceTime: Minimum 128Kbps
  • Facebook Video Chat: Minimum 500Kbps
  • GoToMeeting: Minimum 1Mbps

What Internet Speeds Do You Need for Gaming?

Every gaming system is different but generally, the minimum internet speeds for online gaming for a single person should be 3Mbps for download speeds, 1Mbps for upload speeds, and a ping/latency period of less than 150 milliseconds. However, that is the minimum—most gamers will want faster speeds and lower latency periods, especially if there’s more than one gamer in the household. For a faster, more seamless gaming experience, gamers may want to go with speeds closer to 20Mbps.

Below is the breakdown of internet speeds by popular game consoles and services:

Console Min. Download Min. Upload Max Latency
Playstation 4 3Mbps 1Mbps 150 ms
Xbox One 3Mbps .5Mbps 150 ms
Nintendo Switch 3Mbps 1Mbps 150 ms
Twitch 4-6Mbps 3-6Mbps n/a
PC/Mac 3 – 6Mbps 1Mbps 100-150 ms

How Many People Are in Your Household?

Another factor you should consider when choosing an internet plan that’s best for you and your family is how many people will be using the internet in your household. Generally, the more people, the faster internet speeds you’ll need.

Aside from the number of people, you’ll also want to factor in how many devices will be connected to the internet. This means TVs, cell phones, laptops, tablets, virtual assistant devices, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, and more. If you plan on connecting several devices simultaneously, you’ll want to choose an internet plan with faster speeds, such as 100Mbps.

If you plan on connecting several devices at a time, you’ll want to choose an internet plan with faster speeds, such as 100Mbps.

How to Measure Internet Speeds

Before switching to a plan with faster internet, you’ll first need to measure how fast your current internet is. The good news is, this is extremely easy—all you have to do is try out our internet speed test, which will tell you how fast your download speeds are. If you want to see your latency and upload speeds, click “Show More Info” beneath the result.

What is the Difference Between Upload & Download Speeds?

Download speed refers to how long it takes for information to be downloaded from the source to your computer, smartphone, or other device—examples include browsing Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, searching things on Google, and checking your email. While these activities may not require super-fast download speeds, other online activities, such as streaming HD videos and playing online video games, do.

Upload speed, which is the opposite of download speed, refers to how quickly information travels from your device to an external server or site—uploading activities include posting a photo on Facebook, sending an email, or sending a message on WhatsApp. You may need fast upload speeds for online gaming and video conferencing on apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype.

Typically, your download speeds are going to be much faster than your upload speeds, since most people are downloading content rather than uploading. As such, most internet plans offer faster download than upload speeds.

What is Latency?

Latency refers to the amount of time it takes for a signal to travel to your internet service provider’s server and back to your device. It is typically measured in milliseconds. The higher your latency number, the longer your download and uploads are going to take. Generally, latency under 100 milliseconds is decent, although online gamers may want latency less than 30 milliseconds. This is because longer latency periods can result in a lag that would make gaming extremely frustrating, if not impossible.

How to reduce network lag and latency for gamers:

  • Use an ethernet cable to reduce delays (as opposed to a wireless connection).
  • Unplug your router and modem for around 30 minutes then reboot your modem and start your router. Then you’ll want to reboot your computer.
  • Connect your computer to your modem directly using an ethernet cable—this can help you identify if the router is the problem.
  • Contact your internet service provider to determine the cause of high latency.

Best High-Speed Internet Plans

Now that you know how fast your internet needs to be for you to enjoy all your favorite online activities, you’ll want to switch to a high-speed internet plan if you aren’t already on one. Popular internet providers, such as Xfinity, AT&T Fiber, Cox, Fios by Verizon, and CenturyLink, offer extremely fast internet speeds. Check out some of the best high-speed internet plans below.