What Is a Good Download Speed and Upload Speed?

Figure out which speeds are right for you

Internet download and upload speeds are measured in bits per second (bps), with most residential connections in megabits per second (Mbps).

Most internet service providers (ISP) offer various plans and typically charge higher prices for the fastest speeds available. But over the last decade, the average residential internet speeds in the US have increased rapidly, to the point where your ISP's top-tier plans may offer more than you need.

This article will help you make sense of what a good download and upload speed are for everyday tasks so you can pick the internet plan that best suits your needs.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a broadband internet connection in the United States needs to provide a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and a minimum upload speed of 3 Mbps to qualify as broadband. If your internet speeds are higher than this baseline, you probably have “good” internet performance.

What Is a Good Download Speed?

Download speeds of 10 Mbps per person are for basic tasks like web surfing and email. However, bandwidth-intensive activities like video streaming (Netflix, etc.) and online gaming require 25 Mbps or higher for optimal performance. 

Bandwidth and internet speed are often used interchangeably but refer to two different aspects of internet performance. Bandwidth refers to the capacity of an individual connection, while speed is the measure of information transfers.

In addition to the types of activities you use the internet for, it’s also good to keep network congestion in mind. If you share a network with multiple users who like to stream Netflix or download large files regularly, you’ll need a faster connection to avoid connection bottlenecks.

Here’s a rough breakdown of download speed tiers and what you can do with them:

Speed  Suitable Activities 
0 - 5 Mbps  -Basic web browsing
-Checking email
-Streaming music on one device 
5 - 25 Mbps  -Streaming standard definition video
-Online gaming for one player
-Video calling for one user 
25 - 100 Mbps  -Streaming HD video on multiple devices
-Online gaming for 1-2 players
-Downloading large files 
100 - 500 Mbps  -Streaming UHD video on multiple devices
-Online gaming for multiple players
-Ultra-fast downloads 
500+ Mbps  -Simultaneous streaming, online gaming, and downloads on nearly unlimited devices 

What Is a Good Upload Speed?

Whereas high download speeds are great for downloading large files and streaming from services like Netflix, good upload speeds are essential for activities like video chat or broadcasting live stream video. 

Woman speaking with team over video chat.

Alistair Berg/Getty

While Skype recommends upload speeds of 1.2 Mbps or higher for HD video calling, you’ll want much higher than this if you regularly use your home network for work, streaming, or online schoolwork. 25 Mbps is a good benchmark to aim for, but if you need a high upload speed, you may want to consider a fiber-optic connection if it’s available in your area. Fiber networks boast symmetrical upload speeds, which means they’ll match your download speeds.

What Is a Good Internet Speed?

The truth is that a good internet speed is whatever suits your needs at a price you’re comfortable paying. If you’re not a big online gamer or don’t own a 4K TV, you may not need an expensive internet package. But whichever plan you choose, it’s essential to make sure your ISP delivers on the promised speeds.

You can find out how fast your internet connection is by using an internet speed test site like Speedtest or SpeedOf.Me. If you find that your speeds are below the targets set by your ISP, there are a few things you can do:

  • Use a wired connection when possible. Ethernet cables generally provide faster download and upload speeds than a wireless connection.
  • Move your router. Wi-Fi signals get weaker over longer distances, so you can often get a speed boost by being as physically close to your router as possible.
  • Update your router’s security settings. Unwanted connections can slow down your internet speeds, so make sure to use a complex password and WPA2 security.
  • Restart your router. It may sound too simple, but unplugging your router and plugging it back in will perform a hard restart, which sometimes fixes slowdown issues.
  • Call your ISP. If none of the solutions above help, contact your internet provider.

Is a 100 Mbps Considered Fast Internet?

For smaller households, an internet connection that provides a 100 Mbps download speed is quite fast. It’s enough to stream video in HD on a handful of devices at the same time without a noticeable dip in performance.

However, if you want to stream ultra HD on multiple screens or have numerous people in the same household play online games at the same time, you’ll likely want to push higher than 100 Mbps. Cable and fiber-optic connections are your best options for the fastest internet speeds, with many providers offering plans up to 1,000 Mbps in select areas.

  • How do I make my router faster for gaming?

    To optimize your router for gaming, switch to the 5 GHz band, set up port forwarding, and enable QoS delivery. Using a wired connection for gaming is almost always better than connecting wirelessly.

  • What are the internet speed requirements for video streaming?

    Netflix and similar services recommend 5.0 Mb/s or more per device for HD streaming, and 15 Mb/s or more for 4K Ultra-HD. Streaming sites automatically adjust the video quality to match your internet speed.

  • How can I improve my Wi-Fi signal?

    Ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal include relocating your router, changing the channel and frequency, updating the firmware, upgrading the antennas, and adding a signal amplifier. Alternatively, upgrade your router or invest in a Wi-Fi extender.

  • Why does my wireless speed always change?

    The speed of a Wi-Fi connection can automatically change over time due to a feature called dynamic rate scaling. Wi-Fi dynamic rate scaling extends the range at which wireless devices can connect, resulting in lower network performance at longer distances.

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