Offices aren’t the only places that rely on the internet anymore. Pretty much every household has an internet connection these days.
It has become an essential component of everyday life and enables people to work, have a social life online, and maintain long-distance relationships with ease.
When you compare internet plans, internet speed is often one of the first things you tend to look at. It is one of the key factors that determine how good a plan is.
But, how much do you know about internet speed? How does it work? How is it determined? What factors influence it? Go through this basic guide about internet speed and understand better.
Understanding internet speed will help you determine what kind of internet connection suits your family’s needs best.
The meaning of internet speed and why it matters
In simple terms, internet speed is the rate at which information or data travels from the World Wide Web to your personal device (computer, mobile phone, laptop, etc.). This speed is measured in terms of Megabits per second, or simply Mbps.
Internet speed matters because it determines what you can and cannot do on your computer and how many devices you can connect simultaneously. For example, if your speed is extremely slow, you may experience severe trouble attending virtual meetings, watching videos, uploading files, or playing games.
If you observe internet service providers’ advertisements, you will notice that they always display the various internet speed ranges their plans offer. It’s because they know internet speed is a key determinant for all kinds of consumers.
Glossary of internet speed-related terms
While most people may know internet history, not everyone understands the various concepts associated with internet speed.
- Byte – You already know that internet speed is measured in terms of “bits.” Bytes are terms used to understand how much memory is available or the amount of data being transferred. And, one “byte” measurement is equal to eight “bits.”
- Broadband – The overall measurement of speed is done in broadband terms. It signifies the rate of speed at which data can be transmitted, such as gaming or streaming movies.
- Bandwidth – Bandwidth determines the number of devices you can connect to the internet at one time. The higher the bandwidth, the more the amount of data that can be transferred through your network simultaneously.
- Latency – This term is used to refer to the delay in the transmission of data from the source to your computer or other devices.
- Download and upload – Download time is how fast information is received by your router from external sources. Conversely, upload time is how fast you can send information to external sources.
- Ping and ping time – Ping is a test used to determine how reachable a server is. It sends a package of data to the respective server and checks how long it takes to return. Ping time is the rate at which this data travels to the server and returns.
How do the various types of internet affect speed?
Speed depends quite a lot on the type of connection one has. Consider the following for better understanding.
This type of connection is almost obsolete now as it is the slowest of all. It does not support broadband and, therefore, comes with limited bandwidth.
Digital Subscriber Line
Often called DSL, this connection looks very much like a phone line. But it has different wiring inside and enables broadband transmission, making it much faster than a dial-up connection.
This type delivers internet wirelessly to the receivers. However, it still needs wires to transport the signals from the receiver to different parts of the building or area. And while it has considerable bandwidth, it can sometimes be slow because of latency issues.
With excellent broadband capabilities, this connection type uses cables to transfer the internet to receivers. It is a high-speed connection, greatly preferred by most internet consumers.
Widely available, this is the latest internet connection that uses fibre-optic cables to transmit vast amounts of data at incredible speeds. Perhaps the only limitation is that it is highly expensive. If you have the money to spare, fibre connections are perfect as they offer the highest speeds.
Choosing the right internet plan
Besides considering the factors above, you can also compare internet plans online before making your decision. Many reliable websites let you compare factors such as speed, price, discounts, etc., to help you decide.
Make sure to also account for the number of devices you will be connecting to the internet at once, how many people there are at home, etc., before making your decision.
When it comes to speed, consider what you will be using the internet for. Do you spend much time gaming and browsing eCommerce websites? Do you use online platforms to watch movies? The answer to vital questions like these and more will tell you what speed you should opt for.