How much bandwidth you need depends upon what you plan to do online. Casual web surfing and e-mail can take place at 1 to 2 Mbps (megabits per second). Photo and file upload to and from cloud storage (such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive) can work with as little as 1 Mbps, but 10 Mbps cuts the download time by a factor of 10. For example, downloading 500 photos of 4 MB quality requires about 4.5 hours at 1 Mbps, but will take only 10 minutes at 25 Mbps! Other common broadband uses and the amount of bandwidth typically needed are summarized in the table below:
Typical Bandwidth Required:
|Music Streaming||1.5 Mbps (CD quality)
250 Kbps (MPS)
|SD Video Streaming (Standard Definition)||1.5 to 2.0 Mbps per user (per TV or device)|
|HD Video Streaming (High Definition)||4.0 to 5.0 Mbps per user (per TV or device)|
|4K Ultra HD or HDR video streaming||25.0 Mbps per user (per TV or device)|
|Online Gaming Consoles||4.0 to 20 Mbps per device or console|
|Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, You Tube etc.||Largely depends on the quality of the content selected for play. See SD, HD or 4K above.|
Internet activities do not typically use all of the specified bandwidth all the time. Typically, the bandwidth used by an activity will fluctuate during use.
Most people are surprised to learn that the size of your TV or the size of the video window on your computer screen is not usually directly related to the amount of bandwidth the service uses. Most devices scale the video content up or down to display on the device. With most streaming services, more motion happening in the picture uses more bandwidth from your broadband service. Also, higher definition picture qualities use more bandwidth as well. Many TVs, DVD players, or streaming players (like a Roku Box) will have a buffer in the device. This buffer allows a small amount of video to be downloaded to the device before it is actually displayed on the screen. Using that buffer, the device can overcome minor interruptions in the video stream being displayed. This will tend to smooth out the overall viewing experience. Be aware, not all devices have a buffer or the same size of buffer! In addition, some streaming services can be configured to adjust the picture definition to compensate for a lack of bandwidth. Streamed video is a complicated process! You should consult your streamed video service provider for more information on how they work.
Online Gaming Consoles
Depending on the settings in the device and how you use the gaming console, it can use up to 15 to 20 Mbps of bandwidth. Customers having bandwidth issues where gaming consoles are involved should try un-plugging the gaming console from the wall completely to see if their bandwidth issues are resolved. Also, the more remote features you have configured on the console, the more bandwidth the console will use. To preserve bandwidth in your broadband service, we recommend that you do not broadcast your game play, you should buy the game CD or DVD instead of downloading the game online, and only perform system software updates when you are not using your broadband for other activities that may be affected.
How bandwidth is used
If you stream HD video to one TV you will use about 4 mbps of bandwidth. If you are streaming HD video to two separate TVs you can use 8 Mbps of bandwidth. Add a third TV and you can use 12 Mbps of bandwidth on your broadband service. In this manner, if you add up the devices using bandwidth in your home at the same time, you can get an accurate picture of how you are using bandwidth. You can also see just how quickly you can “max out” the bandwidth of your internet connection. For instance, watching Netflix and online gaming at the same time can use between 8 and 30 Mbps! That is more bandwidth than a typical 4/1 or 10/1 internet connection can handle! You can adjust your usage by turning off some devices. Of course, if your current broadband connection is just not meeting your bandwidth needs, call our office at (800) 624-0082, we may be able to upgrade your service to a higher bandwidth plan without too much additional cost.