When ordering internet service from an internet service provider, you usually have a list of different internet speeds that you can choose from. Most people have no idea which speed they need and wind up dealing with internet that is too slow or paying too much for speeds they don't need. You should educate yourself on internet speeds and bandwidth so you can understand exactly what you are doing. Here is what you need to know.
Broadband speeds are measured as a number of megabits per second (Mbps). A megabit is a thousand bits of data. Therefore, if your internet can process 64 Mbps instead of 12 Mbps, everything you do on the internet is going to be much faster.
Most people don't understand what bandwidth is. Think of your bandwidth as a freeway and your data are the cars on the freeway. If you have an internet speed of 1Mbps, you have a one-lane freeway. If you are downloading something that has a size of 60Mb, it's like 60 cars going down a one-lane freeway. It would take a minute for them to reach their destination. At a speed of 30Mbps, you have 60 cars going down a 30-lane highway. It would only take two seconds for them to reach their destination.
Amount You Need
The amount of bandwidth you need depends on what you do. If all you do is check e-mail and surf the web, you can get by on 1Mbps. If you tend to get impatient when websites don't load immediately, you might want to choose 5 or 6Mbps. Your speed will depend on your internet service provider. Some have speeds in increments of 5, some have speeds in increments of 6, and some even do increments of 15. Streaming different services requires more bandwidth or the show will constantly pause and buffer. The bare minimum you need for Netflix is 5Mbps. HBO now needs 3Mbps, and Amazon Instant Video needs 3.5Mbps. It's better to get a little more than those numbers. If you have a phone on WiFi you are using or want to get on your computer while watching TV, you won't have enough bandwidth. If you have people watching shows simultaneously on multiple TVs, you'll probably want to get a minimum of 20Mbps. If you play online computer games, even more would be recommended.
If you love online gaming, you'll want a high bandwidth. Popular types of games include massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and first person shooters (FPS). These games don't tend to use as much bandwidth as people think. Depending on the game, you might use about 5 to 10Mb of data per hour. However, lower bandwidth would have lower pings, which can make gaming frustrating. A ping is how long it takes the data in your game to talk to the server and come back to your session. The server is like a brain and the game is the human body. When you move your arm, you are actually sending a signal to your brain to move your arm, and then the signal goes back to your arm to move it. It happens so quickly, there is no hesitation and you don't even realize this is going on. In a game, these pings are measured in milliseconds. If the pings take a long time, it's difficult to even move around in the game. Having more bandwidth gives you extra lanes on your freeway for that data to travel and reduces your pings.
As you can see, the amount of data you need for your internet depends on how much internet your household uses. Now you can figure out your bandwidth needs and choose your internet speed accordingly. For more information on your internet needs, check out a site like http://www.rtconline.com.