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The internet is an indispensable entity in our lives today, with so much to offer. But sometimes, it is very easy to overlook some of the main things that make up an internet connection. Or fail to understand them. Although the upload speed and download speeds appear to be quite self-explanatory, there is a bit of depth to them. In this article, we discuss all about internet upload and download speeds in hopes of making the subject easier for you to understand.

So let us start at the beginning!

How Does Internet Speed Work?

The internet speed is a direct measure of how much data your connection can transfer in a unit of time. Usually, it is a measure of data in megabytes per second (Mbps). Although there are two speed types that make up an internet network -- the upload and download speeds -- it is usually the download speed that we talk about in general. It is the amount of data that is delivered to your home per second by your internet service provider.

Most internet providers like Xfinity, Spectrum, and AT&T offer multiple speed-tiers to users, so their services can fit most households. You can rely on high-speed internet services from these providers and more in the industry at pretty good price points.

What is Internet Bandwidth?

Although often confused with one another, internet bandwidth and speed are not really the same thing. While internet speed shows the data transfer per second, the bandwidth is the maximum amount of data your connection can actually handle at any given point in time. It is measured in Megabytes (or gigabytes) per second too. Your internet speed can never be more than the maximum your connection can handle, hence can never be more than your internet bandwidth.

What is the difference between Download and Upload Speed?

The download speed of an internet connection is the speed of data delivery from the source to your device. For instance, how long is it taking you to download a high resolution picture on your phone or buffer a 4K Netflix episode on your 65-inch TV? Download speed is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps) and indicates how quickly you are getting access to things on the internet. Or in simpler words, it measures how quickly you are able to download things over your internet connection. Download speeds are usually quite fast or at least meet the requirements of a high-speed internet connection.

Conversely, the upload speed on your network is quite the opposite. This speed measures how quickly you can send information over your internet connection. For instance, sending an email, video chatting, or even online gaming. Upload speeds are typically lower than download speeds for cable connections, although with pure fiber connections, you can rely on symmetrical speeds on both ends.

What is a Good Download Speed?

According to the FCC, a download speed of at least 25 Mbps is considered good, since it meets the requirement of a high-speed internet connection. However, a good download speed for your home would depend on quite a few factors such as the number of connected devices and users as well as the quality of online activities. Activities such as gaming and video conferencing end up needing a higher internet speed and there can be lag if the needs are not met.

For the most part, however, a download speed of 25 Mbps per user is usually good enough for most households. This way if someone is streaming videos and another person is video calling, they should both be able to do their work without any hiccups. Gaming typically needs around 3 Mbps of download speed whereas video calling can range between 1-6 Mbps depending upon the video quality of your call. If you want to stream Netflix or Hulu, your best bet would be getting a service with at least 25 Mbps of download speed for seamless HD streaming.

Hence, a good download speed usually depends upon your needs rather than a fixed number. Assessing your needs will help you get the best speed for your home.

What is a Good Upload Speed?

Upload speeds of 3 Mbps are considered good and meet the FCC requirement for high-speed internet. It usually does serve its function too. However, if you are working from home or are a regular gamer, this speed may not cut it for you. Under these circumstances, it is best to go for a plan with higher upload speeds, or perhaps choose a fiber internet service for it gets you high upload and download speeds.

Why Are the Upload and Download Speeds Different?

As a rule of thumb, cable internet services get you download speeds that are a lot faster than upload speeds. This is because most online activities require the use of fast download speeds. For instance, watching Netflix, using social media or YouTube, online shopping, and even using music streaming platforms heavily relies on a fast download speed.

Most applications are optimized to need minimal input from the user’s end. Most online services only need to authenticate subscription or account credentials to grant access to the full suite of services. This is why the data transfer requirements of networks in terms of upload speed are lower.

Of course, there are activities that use upload speed too like video conferencing, sending emails, gaming, and more. Upload  speeds are especially important for photographers, content creators, and artists, as they upload high quality videos and other media to online platforms. However, for the most part, downloads play a vital part in our lives and hence it is only fitting that the download speed should be higher than the upload speed.

Best Speeds From the Top Internet Providers in the U.S.

The top internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S. ensure that their internet is available in multiple speed-tiers so every home can find a fit for themselves. Here is a short rundown of the best internet service providers in the industry today and the top speeds that they offer to their users.

ISP

Download Speed Range

Upload Speed Range

Price

Xfinity

50 Mbps – 1200 Mbps

5 Mbps – 35 Mbps

$19.99/mo. - $80.00/mo.
Price subject to location

Spectrum

200 Mbps – 1000 Mbps

10 Mbps – 35 Mbps

$49.99/mo. - $89.99/mo.

AT&T

25 Mbps – 1000 Mbps

5 Mbps – 1000 Mbps

$55.00/mo. - $80.00/mo.

Cox

100 Mbps –1000 Mbps

5 Mbps – 940 Mbps

$49.99/mo. - $99.99/mo.

Xtream Powered by Mediacom

200 Mbps – 1000 Mbps

10 Mbps – 50 Mbps

$39.99/mo. - $59.99/mo.

CenturyLink

20 Mbps – 940 Mbps

1 Mbps – 940 Mbps

$50.00/mo. - $65.00/mo.

HughesNet

3 Mbps – 25 Mbps

1 Mbps – 3 Mbps

$44.99/mo. - $139.99/mo.

 

Use a Speed Test to Check Your Internet Speed

Your internet upload and download speed would really come down to what activities you want to perform online. If you are a standard internet user with average internet use and a few users in your family, an internet download speed of around 25 Mbps would work wonders for you. Similarly, if you don’t have a lot of active online activity, a standard upload speed of about 5- 10 Mbps would be more than enough.

Check your internet speed with us and estimate your needs. Choose plans from our top providers with fast internet speeds so you are never behind on your tasks!

Learn more about good internet speeds for your home and how to make it work!

FAQs

What is the difference between internet speed and internet bandwidth?

Internet speed is the amount of data transferred over the internet in a second. The bandwidth on the other hand is the maximum amount of data that can be transferred over the internet network in a second. An internet speed can never be more than the internet bandwidth.

What is the difference between upload speed and download speed?

Download speed is the speed that you use to download data over the internet. It is used while you stream movies or video calls over an internet connection. Upload speeds, on the other hand, help you upload content on the internet for instance pictures on social media, gaming, and more.

Is high-speed internet available in my area?

High-speed internet is now available in most areas in the U.S. To check what high-speed internet options are available in your area, call us at 1-855-349-9328, our professionals are ready to help you 24/7.