How Much Internet Speed Do You Need in Your Apartment?

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How Much Internet Speed Do You Need in Your Apartment?

  • Learn how internet speed is measured and defined
  • Understand what type of online activities impact internet speed
  • Choose the best type of internet that fits your needs and budget


From browsing the web to sending emails to online gaming and streaming Netflix, the internet has become an integral part of everyday life. In fact, more than 4 billion people worldwide use the internet.

chart showing global population who uses the internet

Source: Statista

Because we rely on the internet for so many things, most homeowners and renters would consider internet access a utility, much like water, electric and gas. But how much internet speed do you actually need as an apartment dweller? This article will walk you through internet speed differences and help you determine which type is best for you.

What is internet speed?

To understand internet speed differences, let's first define internet speed. Simply put, internet speed is the amount of time it takes data or content to travel from the World Wide Web to your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Depending on how you use the internet, you're either using upload or download speeds. Upload speed is the time it takes for data to transfer from your device to the internet. Download speed is the opposite. It's the time it takes for data to transfer from the internet to your device.

In order for the internet to be deemed as “high-speed internet," or “broadband" it must have download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps, according to the FCC.

Recommended internet speeds for each online activity

family using different devices

If you're like most internet users, you're using the internet in a variety of ways. Here's a high-level overview of the recommended internet speeds for some of the most common online tasks.

  • Streaming SD and HD videos: 3-8 Mbps
  • Gaming: 3-4 Mbps
  • Surfing the web: 1 Mbps
  • Social media: 1 Mbps
  • Telecommuting: 5-25 Mbps
  • Downloading files: 10 Mbps
  • Video calls: .5-3 Mbps

Each of these rates is measured individually. So, if you download files, stream videos and surf the web simultaneously, you'll need to add up each of those speeds to show how much speed you need.

The number of people and connected devices also play a role in internet speed differences. If you have multiple devices that are using the internet, you need more broadband.

internet usage chart

Source: Tom's Guide

What to ask to determine what you need

As with anything, it's smart to do some initial research before you sign a contract with a new internet provider. You'll want to assess your needs and lifestyle and ask yourself a few questions:

How many devices do you use in your home?

Each smartphone, tablet, laptop, smart home product and gaming console will count as one device. The more devices you have, the more speed you'll need. Tally the number of connected devices.

How many people typically use the internet at the same time?

Keep a mental note of everyone who lives in your apartment that will use the internet, as well as when they use it and how they use it. People use the internet in a variety of ways and each online activity requires a different internet speed for optimal use.

From making internet or Skype calls to streaming music to playing gaming and streaming movies, think through all the ways you and your family make use of the internet.

Asking yourself these questions to avoid lag time and help you determine how much internet speed and bandwidth you need.

Reviewing different types of internet and its cost

internet cables

On average, Americans pay roughly $66 per month for the internet, but prices can get as low as $29.99 for basic internet. Prices vary depending on the type of internet and the provider. There are a few different types of internet connections to consider:

  • Cable: Cable internet uses wires. So, people who still subscribe to traditional cable can usually bundle and save on cable TV and the internet. Cable internet is common and available in most areas.
  • DSL: DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, transmits the internet through telephone wires. It's faster than dial-up internet and has broad access across the nation since telephone wires are everywhere.
  • Fiber: Fiber optic internet is still fairly rare, but it has exceptional upload and download speeds. Fiber internet connections work by sending flashes of light through glass fibers that then relay digital information.
  • Satellite: Satellite internet uses satellites or transmitters orbiting the globe to send wireless signals to people on Earth. It has slower internet speeds but is good in rural areas.

Picking the best internet option for you

Once you've assessed how many connected devices you have, how many people in your apartment use the internet and in what ways, you can choose a provider and pick an internet package that best suits your needs.

By: Sage Singleton

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