What Broadband Speed do you really need?

What broadband speed do I need?

So, we’ve covered how much broadband data you need in a previous article, but we thought it would definitely be worth looking at what kind of broadband speeds you need for different online activities.

Most people think that a faster broadband speed is always better, but that may not necessarily be the case – it all depends on what you ordinarily use the internet for, after all, no one wants to pay through the nose for an ultrafast connection that they are not even using.


‘Mbps’ is an abbreviation for Megabits per Second. A Megabit is a unit of measurement for  the speed of data transfer over the internet, or in other words, your broadband speed.

To put broadband speed into context with broadband data, 8Mbps is equal to approximately 1MB, so it takes around 1 second to download 1MB at 8Mbps. A song, for example, that is 5MB in size, will take around 5 seconds to download at a speed of 8Mbps, but will take  40 seconds if your broadband speed is 1Mbps.


In reality, you’d probably be quite surprised how much you can really do with ‘slower’ speeds, as the broadband speed requirements of most online services are actually quite low.

Web browsing, email and social media

All considered as ‘light use’, generally browsing the web, your email and social media will require the absolute minimum broadband speed, so whatever you can get will do.

Programme and film streaming

Standard quality on most TV streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and 4 On Demand requires around 2Mbps, up to 3Mbps to stream in HD. For the likes of Netflix, your looking at around 3Mbps for SD, and 5Mbps for HD quality, but if its ultra HD you’re after, your going to need superfast speeds of at least 25Mbps.

Music streaming

You’d think that music streaming would need a quick speed to function properly, but you can actually stream music with as little as a 0.5Mbps speed. For a completely smooth and loss-free listen though, it’s recommended a speed of around 2Mbps.


Again, this is another online activity that many people think needs the highest speed they can get, however, things such as latency affect game play much more as it is a ‘real-time’ function, so satellite internet is not a great option for gamers. On normal services, Xbox Live needs around 3Mbps to run properly.

Video calling and VoIP

It can actually be anything from as little as 0.5Mbps, but again latency is a bigger factor as it is a real-time activity. For a clear and interruption-free call, 1.5Mbps is a good speed to have.


Now, downloading is a bit different as it directly correlates to speed. So, essentially, the faster the speed, the faster the download. To put it into context, a speed of 5Mbps will download you an album of 10 songs in 1min 20secs, and a speed of 16Mbps will download you the same album in just 25secs.


There are lots of things to consider above just what broadband speeds’ online services require. In theory it is great that iPlayer only needs 2Mbps to stream, but if you’ve got a household with kids and jam-packed with devices all connected to the internet (think about phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, smart watches etc. etc.), 2Mbps is not going to cover everything and your iPlayer streaming just won’t work properly.

It’s also worth considering how much your household relies on the internet too. If you are regularly downloading films or large files, are often all dotted about the house streaming tv catch-up services, or playing online games, it is definitely worth spending the extra for both faster speeds and a greater data allowance.

We are wholly delighted with the exceptional service from Airband, from the thoughtful, helpful office staff to the lovely engineer who got us set up so quickly and efficiently - definitely puts other providers to shame.

- Aishlyn, Devon