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What Is a Good Internet Speed and What do These Terms Mean?


Finding Good Internet


To the surprise of no one, 92% of Canadians desire good internet speed. The real surprise is how far people will go to get it. A whopping 70% of Canadians say they don't want to live in an area without access to high-speed internet. In fact, people have been reaching out to their local MP's like this tweet found on Twitter.



But this begs the question: What is a good internet speed, anyway? Almost everyone interacts with the world-wide-web on a daily basis, but only a small minority understands all the terminology. This leaves you at a disadvantage the know what's next time you sign up for an internet service package.


Speed, bandwidth, megabits... who knew the internet could be so complicated? Let's demystify some common internet terms so you know what's in your service plan.



What Is a Good Internet Speed?


When it comes to choosing a great internet service, most customers know that faster is better. But internet speed alone doesn't tell the whole story. That's because there are two different types of internet speed.


Internet speed usually but not always... refers to your download speed. This is the metric that's relevant to most households. Anytime you stream a video, download a game, or load a video page, that's dependent on your download speed.


Upload speed is the other side of the coin. It determines how quickly you can upload files over the internet. This speed is important for people who regularly post videos or stream over the internet. Watch this short video on how much bandwidth is required for streaming at different TV quality levels.




Most internet providers only advertise their download speeds, so you'll have to do some research if uploading is crucial to your everyday routine. In general, Canada's upload speeds are below the global average.


We've covered the definition of internet speeds. But what's a good internet speed, and what isn't? Let's look at some practical examples.


With a download speed of 10 Mbps, it will take you almost 7 hours to download a 30GB video game. At 50 Mbps, you can complete the same download in a little over an hour.


But most people don't download massive files every day. Typical internet use requires lower speeds.


To stream video without stuttering, 8 Mbps is plenty. A good internet speed for gaming is about 3 Mbps. General use needs even less.


If you're still having trouble picking a service speed, read our helpful megabit guide.



What Does Megabits Per Second Mean?


Most internet speeds are measured in Mbps, also known as megabits per second. A megabit is a unit of information, a sort of digital measurement of data transfer.


Don't confuse megabits for megabytes. They're completely different entities. Usually, internet providers list internet speeds in megabits, while megabytes refer to file size.


Think of megabits as the digital speed, and megabytes as the size or volume of a file or hard drive. You should note that they are written differently, too. While megabits are stylized as Mbps, megabytes differ as MBs.


Older services like dial-up measure themselves by kilobits per second (Kbps). Newer broadband services such as fiber-optics may instead advertise gigabits per second (Gbps) as it is much faster.


These measurements, work off of groups and behave much like the metric system. But instead of base tens, these digital measurements are based on thousands.


1 Mbps is 1,000 times faster than 1 Kbps. And 1 Gbps is, in turn, 1,000 times faster than 1 Mbps.


Speed Test Gif

But all this technical jargon isn't necessary for the average consumer. Just know that the best internet speeds are Gbps, followed by Mbps and then Kbps. These terms do help you troubleshoot your internet connection, if let's say you are on the phone with tech support.



What Is Bandwidth?


Internet speeds don't tell the whole story. Even with a blazing fast 100 Mbps service plan, you can experience connectivity hiccups. What gives?


Assuming you have a hardwired connection, your bandwidth is probably to blame. Bandwidth is the maximum transfer rate of your network. If your household uses several internet devices at the same time, your internet speed can suffer.


Imagine a faucet is your bandwidth. A wider tap can put out more water at any one time. Under heavy loads, it cannot meet the demands of everyone determine when who wants to fill their cup.




When you're choosing a service plan, bandwidth matters. Determine when your network will be in high demand. Then purchase a plan with enough bandwidth to support all users during this period.


Otherwise, you'll have stuttering video and downloads, as well as other internet woes.



What Is Latency?


The reality is internet speeds are not constant and can experiences slowdowns known as latency. That's why most providers advertise their speeds as "up to" a certain amount. Usually, the changes are mild and do not directly influence your internet experience.


But some internet activities, such as online gaming, are vulnerable to even subtle network changes. In online games, there's a small delay when your computer sends data to the gaming server. This is known as the ping rate, measured in milliseconds.


Your ping rate, or ping for short, can have a massive impact. Regardless of fast internet speeds, you may encounter ping greater than 100 milliseconds (ms). That means a full tenth of a second passes before the game receives your keystrokes.


In some games, high ping isn't a big deal. But in others, it can make gaming frustrating or downright impossible.

Internet Hang Ups Gif


You can measure your network latency with ping tests to see if it's the experience high fault of your provider. But you should know you can also experience high ping based on the physical connection. For example, connect your computer with an internet cable and avoid your home wi-fi network.



Understand Your Internet Speed


In an internet-dominated world, it's important to understand some of the underlying systems. When you can tell what is a good internet speed and what isn't, you can also purchase the service package right for you.


If you live in a rural area such as southwestern Ontario, great internet speeds are hard to come by. Thankfully, you've got options. Our rural internet plans use wireless technology to keep you connected, wherever you are.

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