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What are internet speeds? What do they mean? And, why are they important?

1:56PM January 30, 2018

By now, most, if not everyone is familiar with terms used to describe internet data packages.


Kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB) are forms of digital storage. The more we have, the more we can download. Downloads are important when surfing the web, playing games and watch videos. Devices need a place to store all of this information.

Similar terminology is used to describe the speed at which you can download and uploads these bytes of information.

The speed of data transferred is measured in “bits.” Your download and upload speeds are how fast you can receive and send information. Typically, the starting point for speed measurement is “megabit per second” (Mbps). The more bits you have, the speedier your online activity should be. A megabit is one-eighth of a megabyte.

Still with me?

Let’s get down to how these numbers affect your online experience.

Given that a megabit is one-eighth of a megabyte, it will take about eight seconds to transfer a 1 MB file, per Mbps of internet service you have.

Say I have a connection of 1.5 Mbps download speed, and I want to download a picture. Of course, the size of the file will make all of the difference, and my favorite photo is nearly 4 MB in size. That means, with the 1.5 Mbps connection it’s going to take me almost a minute to download that picture.

If I have a 50 Mbps connection, I can download about 50 photos in the same amount of time. Fifty pictures! I can also download a typical five-minute song in one second and instantly watch many of my favorite HD movies from my online streaming services.

Ok, ok, I’m sure there are a few of you thinking, “I don’t download much, I just surf the web.”

Well, I'm sure you’ve noticed every website is different; some are pretty much plain text, others have a lot of pictures, and increasingly many have videos. Your internet speed, along with a few other factors, also affect how fast a website’s pages download. And given that the average webpage is about 3 MB, it takes about 25 seconds for the average webpage to load on your screen with the 1.5-Mbps connection I mentioned earlier. A 50-Mbps connection loads that webpage instantly!

So, what else can you do with internet speed?

Assuming you have one device (TV, smartphone, tablet or computer) in the house, a 3-Mbps connection can allow you to watch standard definition (SD) videos with little buffering.

With a 5-Mbps connection, you can experience high definition (HD) videos, but with the same inconvenience of buffering.

To thoroughly enjoy uninterrupted HD and ultra HD videos on 4K television – the latest generation of tv – you need at least a 25-Mbps connection.

Connectivity through super-fast speeds also dramatically improves multi-device connections. For example, on any given night, the kids can play on their smart devices or do internet research for that big school project; your teens can play the latest-and-greatest online video game; all the while, you’re streaming your favorite movie and winding down from the long day.

Keep in mind that all of these devices simultaneously connected to your network ultimately slow down your connection.

Internet service of 50 Mbps is ideal for a home with what has become basic needs for multiple devices. You can download an entire HD movie in just under 15 minutes, or stream SD movies and TV programming and still have sufficient speed for the rest of your household’s educational and entertainment needs. 

A 100 Mbps service will enable you to do all of the above and more, but faster and on more devices. Download an entire HD movie in about 5 minutes. Have a gamer in your home? If so, the average video game is 20 GB, which will take just under 30 minutes to download with this connection.

One final, but very important thing to remember is that CDEC’s broadband service offers symmetrical speeds, meaning you can send info just as fast as you receive it. This is what makes our fiber-to-the-home unique because most upload speeds in our market are delivered through other technology and at a fraction of CDEC’s download speed. Upload speed is essential to uninterrupted Skype/FaceTime (video calls) and other interactions online that utilize video. You can also upload all of your pictures to a cloud backup and collaborate on school or work projects, in real time.

When thinking about internet speeds that will best fit your household, keep in mind what you’ll be using the internet for and how many devices you'll have connected at any given time.


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