Broadband: Only pay for the speed you need

Whether you are a heavy user of the internet, downloading films, video games and music or you just send a few emails from time to time, you will need a broadband speed that suits you. Les Roberts explains how to establish the speed you need.

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Les Roberts: The average UK residential broadband speed currently stands at around 7.6 megabytes per second, which is around 4 times slower than the superfast broadband available.

The speed you get affects how quickly web-pages load, the speed at which you can download content, and how well music and video files stream on your system. The higher the download speed, the more quickly these tasks will be carried out.

But do you actually need the high download speeds, and are you paying over the odds?
Here’s a quick guide to help you work that out.

I think I’m...LOW USE

You are a low user if you just use the internet for:

  • Reading your favourite websites
  • Social media
  • Firing off a few emails
  • Skype calls, instant messaging or chat forums
  • Updating software

They’re all pretty low demands to ask of your connection, so you’ll probably need a download speed no higher than around 4-5 megabits per second.

Things get more demanding when you start to pull in more complex content.

I think I’m...MEDIUM USE

You’re a medium user if you:

  • Regularly stream music or video clips, using sites such as Spotify, YouTube and Netflix
  • Enjoy some video chat Skype, Messenger etc.
  • Casual online gaming
  • Have a large number of connected devices, such as iPads, smartphones, laptops and games consoles.

...You’ll probably require download speeds of between 5-10 megabits per second.

I think I’m...HIGH USE

If you’re a serious user of the internet, you’ll be:
  • Regularly downloading/uploading large files
  • Streaming full-HD movies
  • Video conferencing for business
  • A (serious) online gamer

Superfast broadband caters for the gamer market in a big way, as not only will it have the fastest download speeds but it’ll also have that crucial flipside – the upload speed – that makes or breaks getting that winning kill on Call of Duty.

The Speed Trap

But whatever your speed, don’t forget about the amount you’re allowed to download.

If you have a 2.5 gigabyte per month limit, this means that you could transfer around half a DVDs worth or three and a half CDs worth of information each month.

Even ‘unlimited’ plans have a fair usage policy, so check that out when you pick your provider. 

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