What internet speed (Mbps) do you need?

How many Mbps do you crave? 

Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
November 17, 2022
5 min read

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A good internet speed in is anywhere between 25 and 100Mbps for the average Australia household. Speeds of 25Mbps allow up to two devices to stream at once, browse the web and check emails without too many issues. A little faster at 50 to 100Mbps, and a larger household should be able to stream in HD (High-Definition) or 4K, stream music, game, browse social media, and work from home without any bottlenecks. 

Ultimately, the number of people and devices under your roof will dictate which speed you need but even smaller households may opt for faster internet for more bandwidth-intensive online activities. 

Here's a broad breakdown of the speeds you'll need for various online activities:

What speeds do you need for streaming, downloading and more?
Internet speed
Number of people
Activities

5–25 Mbps

1–2

Casual web browsing, emails, social media, streaming SD video, streaming music

25–50 Mbps

1–3

Streaming HD and 4K video, streaming music, online gaming, light work from home

50–100 Mbps

2–4

Streaming 4K video, online gaming, working from home, using home security devices

100–500 Mbps

2–5

Streaming 4K video, online gaming, running a home office, using home security and smart home devices

500–1,000 Mbps

3–5+

Running a home office or creative profession, streaming in 4K, live streaming, online gaming, using home security and smart home devices

While those estimates above offer some broad guidelines to recommended internet speeds, finding the right internet service provider and internet speed for you is more of a balancing act. If you don’t have enough bandwidth or Mbps, you’ll get a visit from the nasty buffering icon. And if you've got more than you need, you might be paying too much for your internet plan.

To find that sweet spot, you’ll want to follow these steps:



Top five internet providers offering 45Mbps or more

1. Count how many people use your internet

The more people using your internet, the more speed, or Mbps (Megabits-per-second) you need to keep everyone happy.

Don’t forget to count yourself when you tally up everyone who connects to your internet. Other potential internet users can include your partner or spouse, children, housemates, and even frequent visitors, like friends, grandkids, or siblings.

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Have a gamer in the family?

Whether it’s you or someone else who likes to hop online and game with friends, it’s important to know that internet speed isn’t the only thing affecting gameplay.

Gamers also need an internet connection and router with low latency and good bandwidth—and preferable a good upload speed to top it off. Find out which ISPs we recommend for online gaming in our round-up of the best NBN internet plans available. 

2. Look at all the devices using your Wi-Fi

Like people, the more smart devices you have that use the internet, the more Mbps you need.

You might only have two or three people using your internet, but each person can have multiple devices connected to your Wi-Fi at one time so this may take some thinking. There are so many smart devices that use your wireless network in today’s world. It’s easy to forget how many you have at home, but this list of common connected devices might help jog your memory:

Which devices use your internet?
Light Bulb
  • Smart TVs and apps: Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Binge, etc.
  • Streaming devices: Apple TV, Google Chromecast, etc. 
  • Gaming consoles: PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, etc.
  • Computers, laptops, tablets
  • Mobile devices, digital cameras and smart wristwatches
  • Smart appliances: Smart speaker, smart locks, smart printers, smart bulbs, etc.
  • Smart home hubs: Amazon Echo, Google Nest Hub, etc. 
  • Security systems: Ring security cameras and doorbells, Google Nest cameras, etc. 

3. Get an idea of what you and others do online

What do you do when you’re online? Do you game? Watch Netflix? Stream music on Spotify? Or maybe you’re a pretty casual internet user who just checks email and Facebook notifications.

Each of these activities requires different speeds—otherwise you’ll run into laggy internet or that dreaded buffering icon. Here’s a quick look at the bare minimum internet speed you’ll need for a few common online activities.

Recommended minimum speed by online activity1,2,3
Activity
Mininum recommended speed

Streaming SD video (480p)

3Mbps

Streaming HD video (1080p)

5Mbps

Streaming 4K video (2160p)

25Mbps

Streaming music

1–10Mbps

Gaming

3–4Mbps

Downloading large files (HD movies, PDFs, etc.)

10Mbps

Making video calls

0.5–1.5Mbps

Checking email and social media

1 Mbps

Note: The speeds above are the absolute minimum recommended speeds to stream various media. If you have multiple people/devices streaming at the same time, you will need to factor that in when calculating the best internet speed for you. 

What you're doing online (and how many people are doing it) dictates whether you'll experience a "good internet speed." For example, if you're making a simple video call to your extended family, a good speed is somewhere between 5-10Mbps (for a stable stream.) But, if you're trying to stream a 4K video, you're going to want at least 25Mbps. Rhese recommended speeds only work if it’s just you doing one of those online activities at a time. Who does that?

It’s more likely you’re a multitasking machine when it comes to doing things online. You’re streaming House of the Dragon on Binge while you check email, download an HD video to watch later tonight, and hop into an Overwatch 2 match. And your roommate, child, or partner is doing the same things at the same time that you are.

This is why most broadband providers don’t offer internet plans with just 5Mbps—they’re offering you 50, 100, or even 1,000Mbps plans, so you can keep doing what you do best online without any interruptions. 

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Upload speed vs. download speed

Things like live video calling a friend or sending a huge email with loads of memes attached require a good upload speed. Upload speed refers to how fast data can transfer from your computer to the internet.

Download speed is how fast data is being transferred from the internet to your device. A bulk of most people's internet usage relies on a fast download speed to load web pages, music, and streaming videos. 

4. Add up the Mbps you need per person and device

Okay, now that you’ve got a general idea of who and what uses your internet and how they use it, it’s time to do some math. (Don’t worry, it’s just some simple addition.)

We’ll start by going over our recommended baseline speed per person and device.

Recommended internet speed per person or device

We recommend giving each person who uses the internet in your home 25Mbps. And for every device, you can allot 10Mbps. (But if it’s a 4K device, bump that up to 25Mbps per device.)

  • People: 25Mbps per person
  • Devices (not 4K): 10Mbps per device
  • Devices (4K): 25Mbps per 4K device

Okay, now let’s see how those recommended speeds add up with an example.

Let’s say we have a home with two adults and two children who all use the internet. Here’s a list of the internet speeds each person gets, plus the internet speeds each of their devices gets.

  • People: 25Mbps x 4 = 100Mbps
  • Desktop computer: 10Mbps x 2 = 20Mbps
  • Laptop: 10Mbps
  • Tablet: 10Mbps
  • Mobile device: 10Mbps x 3 = 30Mbps
  • Smart TV (4K): 25Mbps x 2 = 50Mbps
  • Xbox gaming console: 10Mbps
  • Wi-Fi printer: 10Mbps
  • Home security system hub: 10Mbps
  • Home security camera: 10Mbps x 2 = 20Mbps
  • Total recommended speed: 270Mbps

The recommended internet speed for this family is 270Mbps. That may seem like a lot of speed, and you’re probably right. This recommendation assumes that every person and every wireless device is online at the same time.

That’s where online activities can factor in. If the family knows they usually stream 4K videos on one of their TVs about once a week and in the evening when no one’s on their computers, gaming on the Xbox, or using the printer, they can probably knock this speed down a bit to 200Mbps.

If the family knows no one uses the computers and tablet for working or studying from home, they might even be able to get away with 100 or 150Mbps.

Even though it’s not a definitive answer, adding up the speeds needed for the people and devices using your internet gives you a ballpark estimate of where your internet speeds need to be.

5. Find an internet plan that works for you

Next stop? Now that you have a good idea of what goes into choosing an internet provider and the things you need to consider, it's time to find an internet provider and plan that has good internet speed for your needs. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but we can help.

Enter your address, and we’ll pull up a full list of NBN plans available in your area. Then you can easily check what plans they have for you and how much each plan costs. Easy, peasy.

Sources

  1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “Broadband Speed Guide,” February 2020. Accessed April 25, 2022.
  2. Catherine McNally, Reviews.org, “Best Internet for Streaming,” August 2020. Accessed April 25, 2022.
  3. Tyler Abbott, Reviews.org, “What Internet Speed Do I Need for Zoom?,” May 2020. Accessed April 25, 2022.
Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally

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