Internet speeds – truth and myths and overkill

Overkill Internet Speeds | Tech Tips Podcast by PcCG

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So very often I am at a client’s home, and I run a speedtest on their internet. The results I get back are outstanding; but perhaps a bit overkill.

ISP’s try to up-sell their service, offering the more expensive internet services at premium rates. But is it really making any difference? Most of the time the answer is sadly: no, you are just paying them more money.

While the speeds are indeed faster; unless you are hosting web servers, running an office of 10+ employees, or watching HD Netflix on 5 TV’s all at the same time that excess speed is doing nothing.

It won’t help you browse the web faster, and it won’t make your gaming any faster. It will help you download big files a bit more quickly… which the average person does very rarely.

An analogy I use is I have a mustang. Now my mustang can do 150MPH (and the tachometer only gets to about 4.5K while doing that!) but I don’t find myself driving those speeds on a daily basis. So using my Ford Edge as my daily car is not really causing me to get from point A to B any slower.

For the average home, it’s my opinion your speed should be between 6-12Mb/s. There may be situations where this number changes… but our 12Mb connection does everything we’d like it to do very nicely. I’d venture to say we probably use our internet much more heavily than the average Joe, so if it’s good for us, it’s likely good for you.

So if you find yourself paying more for your internet, see if you can cut back to the 6-12Mb range. The worst that will happen is you decide it really is slower and you call the company back and have them up the speed again. I’d bet however 90% of people find that there is no difference in daily use at the lower speeds.

If you are getting twice the speed for $5 more a month then I’d leave it. But if your 18Mb internet costs $20 more a month compared to 12Mb, try downgrading and seeing how that works.

Now if your speed is below 6Mb/s, it’s perhaps time to upgrade to Cable or U-verse. DSL typically cannot provide those faster speeds.

On a somewhat related note – ISP’s like to claim that more bandwidth means better online gaming. This is for the most part not true. Games don’t usually require more than 1-2Mb/s a MOST. So if you have even a 3Mb/s connection you can see you’d be fine. It’s only true if you are able to fully saturate (use up) the entire bandwidth; which again is rare if you are using 6+Mb/s internet. Ping is actually the critical thing for online gaming. Ping and bandwidth are 2 separate considerations. You cannot pay your ISP to provide better “ping”, it simply is what it is – and that’s the most important part of line gaming.